Obergefell--heal and celebrate the achievement of a goal.
The day is here. At 10 AM EST, on July 26, 2015, the United States Supreme Court issued the decision in Obergefell v. Hodges. This is a day that history had been waiting on--whether the Supremes would find it necessary to allow same sex marriage in the United States.
The decision was one waited on by many, and was predicted by those who follow the High Court to be a 5-4 with some very sharp dissents. The ever present SCOTUSBlog said this case had "bitterly divided" the Justices, and the dissents--four separate--were extremely harsh. It could have gone either way, and the world waited.
Then the decision came today, and I went from shock to disbelief to sheer unbridled happiness.
5-4. "Held: The Fourteenth Amendment requires a State to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-State."
Expressions of joy erupted from couples everywhere who are now free to marry, free to enjoy the benefits of marriage, and free to finally be who they were without another social stigma attached to them. I did not understand this until a friend posted a video on Facebook, and one line of his tear filled monologue made me truly understand how monumentous this opinion was.
"I feel like a person now."
What a terrible thing, that--to not feel like you were a person for so long in your life because of who you loved, and to not feel like a person because you couldn't have that love formally recognized in every state. All at once I felt a pain that I hadn't previously recognized, because I couldn't wrap my head around the enormity of marriage as a whole as it had just unfolded. I also felt an unbridled happiness, because now this wonderful man has the chance to marry the man of his dreams--and no one can do a thing about it except give him dirty looks at the reception.
I honestly am happy for every person who gained the right to marry today. Having been through one previously, and working on keeping the second one going for the rest of my life, I can say that it's the most irrational thing that a person can ever do. It goes against all common sense, and it's not something that I would ever think a sensible person would do. Being a divorce attorney, I see this. You get caught up in a web of transactional craziness that no person ever needs to handle, you spend a ton of money on a wedding, and you spend the next few years arguing over procedural matters like who cleans the toilets and does the dishes. If you don't have that work out, you lose half your stuff and go into debt further.
But the neat thing about marriage is that it's not rational. It's not logical, and not a damn bit of it reeks of common sense. And all of that is what's beautiful about love. It's irrational, it's nonsensical, and it's a crazy thing worthy of a nuthouse when two people decide they love each other so much they want to spend their entire lives together--forsaking all but that person for the rest of their days. This is so extremely crazy and insane that we immediately demand a lavish party to celebrate it, because we recognize that it's AWESOME people are that much in love. And there's no reason that anyone should be denied the right to love who they want.
The dissents were predictable, and I think they are worth mentioning here. All four Justices said it was a complete and gross extension of the Supreme Court's power to re-write the Fourteenth Amendment to find a fundamental right for anyone to marry who they want. I found this funny from CJ Roberts, who has been rewriting laws since he took the bench. I don't think a level of intellectual dishonesty like this allows him to speak on such matters--but I will respect his opinion, and I will return to mention a salient point about his dissent later. Alito said the decision to sweepingly reinterpret something that had been out of the hands of the Courts since before the existence of this country was a little presumptuous of us. Scalia--the hardest hitting of the bunch--eviscerated the Court's decision to make the Fourteenth Amendment something that has a "fundamental right to marry" and said that today the "rulers" of our land are not the elected officials, but five unelected lawyers on the bench. Thomas took a bit of a different tack, saying that this should not be an occasion where the Court finds a right--better to allow the marriages that exist the right to be recognized everywhere.
Still, we're all excited about this because we realize that today love triumphed over the law, precedent, and everything else that is normally a huge barrier to the things we think are really awesome in life. We see now--as Disney has told us for years--that love is indeed the "most powerful magic," and we should be grateful such things are true. However--in this time, there are going to be those who disagree with today's opinion, and I want to take a moment to address that through the Chief Justice's words:
"Perhaps the most discouraging aspect of today’s decision is the extent to which the majority feels compelled to sully those on the other side of the debate. The majority offers a cursory assurance that it does not intend to disparage people who, as a matter of conscience, cannot accept same- sex marriage. Ante, at 19. That disclaimer is hard to square with the very next sentence, in which the majority explains that “the necessary consequence” of laws codify- ing the traditional definition of marriage is to “demea[n] or stigmatiz[e]” same-sex couples. Ante, at 19. The majority reiterates such characterizations over and over. By the majority’s account, Americans who did nothing more than follow the understanding of marriage that has existed for our entire history—in particular, the tens of millions of people who voted to reaffirm their States’ enduring definition of marriage—have acted to “lock . . . out,” “disparage,” “disrespect and subordinate,” and inflict “[d]ignitary wounds” upon their gay and lesbian neighbors. Ante, at 17, 19, 22, 25. These apparent assaults on the character of fairminded people will have an effect, in society and in court. See post, at 6–7 (ALITO, J., dissenting). Moreover, they are entirely gratuitous. It is one thing for the majority to conclude that the Constitution protects a right to same-sex marriage; it is something else to portray everyone who does not share the majority’s “better informed understanding” as bigoted. Ante, at 19...If you are among the many Americans—of whatever sexual orientation—who favor expanding same-sex mar- riage, by all means celebrate today’s decision. Celebrate the achievement of a desired goal. Celebrate the oppor- tunity for a new expression of commitment to a partner. Celebrate the availability of new benefits."
And in this case, I agree with the Chief Justice, something that is a rare occasion in this world. If you are one of the people who believes this decision came out in the right today--a great day indeed--celebrate. Celebrate love. Don't apply hate towards those who because of their religion or personal preference don't agree with same sex marriage, because we are a society who thinks such opinions--however misguided--are OK and that's part of what makes us great.
Let's have today be about love.