Supreme Court’s Same-Sex Marriage Decision
Words And Meaning (I)
Elliot Resnick (“When Words Cease to Have Meaning,” op-ed, July 3) notes that Chief Justice John Roberts, in his dissent on same-sex marriage, emphasized the importance of the accepted definition of the word “marriage” which has survived throughout “all recorded history.”
How, then, can Roberts rationalize his argument in favor of Obamacare, which he rescued twice – in 2012 and 2015 – despite its constant reconfiguration by the administration?
The Supreme Court stands in danger of forfeiting any semblance of credibility and authority among those who declare fealty to the Constitution.
Words And Meaning (II)
Elliot Resnick says he is bothered by the distortion of language occasioned by the Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges decision, inasmuch as the ruling appears to make the term “marriage” mean something other than it did previously.
Mr. Resnick’s concern for the well being of language is charming but misplaced. Marriage has meant different things in different times and places. In biblical times marriage was often a union between one man and many women, with an allowance for concubines as well.
Clearly the term “marriage” in modern America no longer refers to such a social arrangement. Should we be outraged that the meaning of the term “marriage” has been altered from its biblical definition? Of course not. Language is always moving and changing and yet it survives and prospers.
The world will not end because a word’s meaning has changed. Indeed, most common dictionaries have for years included same-sex unions under the definition of marriage.
In any case, the Supreme Court’s obligation is to the Constitution, not the dictionary. The court was not called upon to decide the definition of “marriage” but rather to decide whether it is constitutional for a state to refuse certain services to same-sex couples that it provides to opposite-sex couples. If language has to suffer a little in order that decent American citizens should not, it seems a small price to pay.
The Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision represents yet another foray by the court into the realm of attempting to create social change.
This is the sort of thing that makes conservatives tear their hair out. The court operates under a glaring double-standard. When the Left gets its way at the ballot box, the result stands without question. When the Right does the same, or at least has a chance of victory, the court has a history of setting the democratic process aside altogether, and purportedly settling issues that are indeed political, and what’s more very controversial and hotly debated.
The Roe decision of 1973 and subsequent related cases turned abortion into a sacred cow that the legislative process could no longer touch. This case is similar in that sense, bringing about, as Justice Scalia put it, “social transformation without representation.”
The small consolation here for conservatives is that this case had coherent, well-articulated dissents in which four justices participated. In fact, the concise legal logic of those dissents stood in stark contrast to the court’s mushy majority opinion.
But whatever there is to say about the merits of this case, its political ramifications are more to the point here. There is a 2016 presidential race in full swing, and this decision will affect it dramatically.
For many conservative voters, the issue is not settled at all. Many oppose gay marriage, and even more oppose the sort of judicial interventionism that was used to impose it. They aren’t just going to go away, and of all people, the Republican candidates most certainly cannot ignore them.
Brian J. Goldenfeld
Woodland Hills, CA
Battle Lost Long Ago
The deplorable Supreme Court ruling endorsing same-sex marriage is a significant blow to those who treasure traditional morality. However, the court’s decision did not occur in a vacuum. It was preceded by a cascade of state legal decisions; with 37 states having legalized these immoral unions even before the Court spoke, it is accurate to say that the battle was lost long ago.
I find it particularly galling when national Orthodox organizations pay mere lip service to Torah values. The Orthodox Union and Agudath Israel were quick to denounce the Supreme Court decision. Yet where were these groups when the groundwork for gay marriage was being laid?
The Orthodox Union, in its statement disagreeing with the decision, nonetheless declared that “the process has spoken and we accord the process and its result the utmost respect.” How are we to understand this? Is the OU saying we should respect a decision that signals a monumental moral decline? Would the OU have reacted similarly to the Dred Scott decision, when the court upheld slavery as Constitutional? How about Plessy v. Ferguson, when the court defended segregation? Since when do we respect laws that undermine basic morality?
Several years ago, I fought to have yeshivas recuse themselves from the Celebrate Israel Parade because an openly gay group was marching. The yeshivas refused. Among the groups I contacted at the time was the Orthodox Union, but I received no response.
In truth, the core issue regarding same-sex marriage has been successfully obfuscated by the gay-rights lobby. While that lobby has pulled the wool over the public’s eyes by likening its struggle to that of the civil rights movement, the primary reason gay-rights activists have sought legal sanction for their “marriages” is that they want society to proclaim, through the law, that same-sex unions are as morally legitimate as heterosexual unions. This is but one further step in a long spiral down the moral staircase, a corrosive process that mocks the Judeo-Christian ethic upon which our country’s laws are based.
Our society’s moral compass is the Torah, a fact recognized within the Judeo-Christian ethic that has always guided the United States. The same Torah that perceives stealing as a moral wrong (a value ensconced in the law) also perceives homosexual conduct as a moral wrong. And while American law recognizes the right of citizens to practice any or no religion, the law simultaneously embraces, in large part, the Torah’s ethical guidance.
Today the Torah is under assault. We will soon reap the bitter harvest of the court’s decision. One can anticipate, in the near future, that anyone stating that homosexual conduct is wrong will be branded a hatemonger. In truth, this is already happening. As for marriage, what next? How about a marriage between siblings or between a mother and her son? And if not, why not?
The Talmud teaches that the Flood occurred because men began to contract marriages among themselves. In other words, the Flood did not occur because of homosexual activity; rather, it occurred because society put the imprimatur of legality, of approval, upon such activity.
I don’t know about others, but as for me, I am keeping my umbrella handy.
Far Rockaway, NY