A Brief Look at the Pending Marriage Equality Decision

With This Ring . . . Photo by Callen Harty.

With This Ring . . . Photo by Callen Harty.

After months (actually years) of waiting it is finally here. Next week the United States Supreme Court will directly take on the issue of marriage equality in a way that should make same-sex marriage legal throughout the entire country (it is already legal in 37 states, the District of Columbia, and the territory of Guam, which legalized it last week). A new Washington Post/ABC poll released today showed a record high 61% of the population supporting marriage equality. Those still against it are aging fast for the most part, and the impending decision seems to be aging them even faster. It seems inevitable that after hearing arguments next week the Supreme Court will likely hand down a decision in June that will make same-sex marriage legal everywhere in the United States. Opponents are beside themselves with fear and hysteria over the possibility.

At this point the only surprise would be if the court ruled against it, as every other decision they have handed down leading up to this has indicated a movement toward marriage equality. In Lawrence vs. Texas they decided states couldn’t ban gay sex. Yay for gay sex. They decided the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional. Duh. They ruled against California’s Proposition 8. The Prop 8 case seemed like it might be the one that would decide the question once and for all, but it didn’t quite do that. While the Supreme Court’s decision overturned Prop 8 and made same-sex marriage legal in California, the court punted in the narrow way in which they ruled, which left the decision strictly about that one state.

Now, though, there is no way they can realistically limit the scope of their decision that way again. The decision this time is clearly about whether any state has the right to ban same-sex marriages. It will either be marriage equality everywhere or they will decide against it and then each state will have to decide on its own. However, the latter does not seem very likely given all the cases and events leading up to this moment. Either way we’re likely to see more pizza parlor owners and auto mechanics freaking out about having to provide services for queer weddings. Because, you know, all gays want extra sausage and cheese at the wedding and all lesbians want the Subaru tuned up before heading out on the honeymoon. And blessed be the cake makers, for they shall inherit a moral dilemma.

The only real surprises now may be which ridiculous arguments are forwarded against marriage equality. It is interesting how arguments that were accepted as rational years ago are now looked at as laughable today. Marriage is solely for procreation? Really? Then how are women allowed to marry after child-bearing age? Or those who can’t have children for whatever reason? Sanctity of marriage? That one is generally argued by the thrice-divorced Christian. Traditional marriage? Okay. What culture? What historical era? Like everything else in society marriage has continuously evolved since its inception. Every child deserves a mother and father? Then we should force a widow with children to remarry immediately? Or give up her children to a happy couple that has none of their own or wants more? If gay marriage is allowed then we’ll have to allow people to marry their . . . dogs, sisters, clocks, etc. Really!?! Just give it a break. Just . . . stop it. Seriously, there are no rational, logical arguments that can be made. They’ve all been tried and they’ve all failed. Unless the attorneys come up with a bombshell argument that not one person has thought of or brought to the forefront before now there simply are no valid arguments against same-sex marriage left. Every one of them has been refuted.

If that’s the case then new arguments need to be tried. Right? As a result what we are seeing now are even wilder stretches of the imagination, such as the recent brief that claims that if same-sex marriage becomes legal it will lead to 900,000 new abortions over the next thirty years. There is some convoluted logic (okay, maybe a lot) and a bit of unscientific statistical sampling (okay, maybe a lot here, too) to get to that conclusion, but it sure sounds horrifying, doesn’t it? Of course, the court has to decide on the constitutionality of banning a class of citizens from marrying, not on what dire results might occur if they are allowed to wed. Still, it doesn’t stop the fear mongers and haters from advancing their cases.

Here are just a few of the ones that have drawn attention so far:

Several ministers filed an amicus brief with the court stating that legalization of same-sex marriage will bring God’s wrath upon the nation. They said judgment, but wrath sounds so much better. God’s wrath destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah with fire and brimstone. So apparently sometime in June, which is the month the decision is expected and coincidentally also pride month, we can expect the entire country to catch fire and burn to ruins. If they’re right at least we won’t ever have to listen to more inane arguments like the rest of the briefs that have been filed.

One of the other groups who filed briefs claims that allowing same-sex marriage will lead to less heterosexual couples getting married. Just like those behind the 900,000 abortion argument the causes and effects get a little extra twist from the group, but who cares about math and science when you’re arguing religion? Even if they are right, one has to ask if that is such a bad thing in a nation where close to 50% of marriages end in divorce. Maybe less bad marriages wouldn’t be such a bad thing. Perhaps if people didn’t have such unrealistic expectations of marriage or feel that they aren’t complete without it we’d be better off. Really, less videos on America’s Funniest Videos that show women going gaga over marriage proposals and getting a ring might be okay. Maybe if we didn’t have such a ridiculous fairy tale idea of romance and happily ever after in the first place there would be less marriages that end in divorce in the long run.

Yet another band of like-minded individuals, Same-sex Attracted Men and Their Wives (yes, there is such a group), filed a brief arguing against gay marriage because they feel it would make gay marriage seem like the only viable option for same-sex attracted men like themselves. Um, okay, Orwellian citizens, thank you. It’s not as if society hasn’t presented heterosexual marriage as the only option for, like, say, forever, right? And despite that, gay people somehow still want to marry each other. Imagine that. Someone please tell these “same-sex attracted men” they can still deny their true nature and marry whomever they want even if other guys can marry guys. It’s totally up to them.

And finally–well, not finally, but this could go on for days–there is a group arguing that LGBT people are now such a political powerhouse that the LGBT community should no longer be considered a minority worthy of protection or special consideration. Never mind that these same folks claim that gays and lesbians are a small percentage of the population. Never mind that in more than half of the states LGBT folks can still be fired simply for being LGBT folks. Never mind that . . . oh, just never mind. It’s impossible to argue logic with irrational people.

There are quite a few other briefs filed that are just as ridiculous as these. The point is that the opponents of marriage equality are having to reach deep into already dry wells to try to come up with some kind of argument that hasn’t already been tried. They are doing their best to bend logic, statistics, reality, truth–they are truly bent–but are having a heck of a time coming up with anything that works. Let them keep trying. It’s getting pretty entertaining.

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About Callen Harty

Originally from Shullsburg, Wisconsin Callen Harty is the author of Empty Playground: A Survivor's Story, a memoir about surviving childhood sex abuse. His first book was My Queer Life, a compilation of over 30 years worth of writing on living life as a queer man. It includes essays, poems, speeches, monologues, and more. Both are available on Amazon.com, Kindle, or can be ordered through local bookstores, He has written almost two dozen plays and 50 monologues that have been produced. Most of them have been produced at Broom Street Theater in Madison, Wisconsin where he has been an actor, writer, and director since 1983. He served as the Artistic Director of the theater from 2005-2010. Monologues he wrote for the Wisconsin Veterans’ Museum won him awards from the Wisconsin Historical Society and the American Association of State and Local History. He has also had essays, poems, and articles published in newspapers and magazines around the country and has taken the top prize in several photo contests. His writing has appeared in Out!, James White Review, Scott Stamp Monthly, Wisconsin State Journal, and elsewhere. He has had several essays published online for Forward Seeking, Life After Hate, and The Progressive. Callen has also been a community activist for many years. He was the co-founder of Young People Caring, UW-Madison’s 10% Society, and Proud Theater. He served as the first President of Young People Caring and as the Artistic Director for Proud Theater for its first five years. He is still an adult mentor for the group. In 2003 he won OutReach’s Man of the Year award for his queer community activism. OutReach is Madison, Wisconsin’s lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender community center. He also won a Community Shares of Wisconsin Backyard Hero award for his sex abuse survivor activism work. He has been invited to speak before many community groups, at a roundtable on queer community theater in New York City, and has emceed several events.
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