The Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage is being painted as a loss for those who believe in traditional marriage. However, for those who believe in the Rule of Law it is a loss for the American people and our Republic.
Whether or not you believe in traditional marriage is now beside the point. Simply put, your voice no longer matters since five unelected judges did what they felt the American people were too inept to decide democratically for themselves.
In its decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court created a new right in same-sex marriage and in the process denied the American people the ability of self-governance. The freedom of the People to govern themselves is a principle this country was founded upon; a principle eloquently stated in many of our founding documents like the Declaration of Independence. But now, freedom is no longer guaranteed and our system of government as intended by the Founding Fathers has been fundamentally damaged.
When the topic of same-sex marriage became part of the national debate, the people of thirty states voted, through legislation and elections, to keep marriage between a man and a woman.
Over the ensuing years various federal courts chipped away at that democratic process and silenced those voices. As a last resort, Americans looked to the Supreme Court this year to validate them in their Constitutional belief that they can decide for themselves if marriage stays between a man and a woman. Instead they were served up a ruling that subverted the democratic process and marginalized anyone who is an advocate for traditional marriage.
The Court’s opinion compares those who hold traditional marriage views with those who denied African-Americans and women equal treatment. So it should come as no surprise when the people who hold traditional beliefs are eventually vilified.
Justice Alito speaks to this in his dissent where he states, “those who cling to old beliefs will be able to whisper their thoughts in the recesses of their homes, but if they repeat those views in public, they will risk being labeled as bigots and treated as such by governments, employers, and schools.”
By circumventing Democracy, the Supreme Court has divided this country and charted a course that will inevitably bring its newly created “right” into conflict with another founding principle: the freedom to exercise your religious beliefs.
When the Supreme Court invalidated state laws that maintained the legal recognition of traditional marriage, it did so with flowery language that was almost thirty pages in length. But when it came time to reassure those tens of millions of Americans concerned about being able to exercise their religious beliefs on marriage, the Justices included a tiny paragraph at the end in what amounts to a judicial pat on the head. Writing for the majority, Justice Kennedy states that religious believers may continue to “advocate” and “teach” their views of marriage.
But as Justice Roberts points out, “[t]he First Amendment guarantees, however, the freedom to “exercise” religion. Ominously, that is not a word the majority uses.
Religious Americans who practice their faith are now in a position of great uncertainty. If their religious practice runs counter to recognizing same-sex marriage as legitimate, are they now subject to prosecution as well as litigation? We need only look to what has happened to small business owners in the past couple of years to find the answer to that question.
Whether you are a florist, baker or any other occupation, refusing to provide your services to a same-sex wedding based on your sincerely held religious beliefs is not enough to save you from persecution according to judges across the country. With this decision it will only get worse, and we will see more lawsuits spring up that challenge the faith of everyday Americans trying to earn a living while holding to their beliefs.
Many are celebrating the Supreme Court’s ruling as the culmination of a march for equality. But if you look at the precedent this decision sets, it is the beginning of a march of tyranny. If the highest court in the land sees its role as one that can remove from public discourse issues it thinks American’s are not able to decide, then what kind of Republic do we have?
The Founding Fathers’ emphasis on self-governance recognized that the People are best suited to decide issues not specifically enumerated in the Constitution. To have a court rule otherwise is to violate the basic principles we as a nation hold dear.
The House Conservative Opportunity Society is Chaired by Rep. Steve King (R-IA). It is a group of House conservatives organizing efforts to push the Republican conference, and leadership, in a more conservative direction. The full membership of the organization–several House members, a list that is publicly unknown at this time–endorsed the content of this op-ed.