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Religious Tolerance logo

The Obergefell v. Hodges case before the U.S. Supreme Court
involving appeals of 4 same-sex marriage cases, from Kentucky,
Michigan, Ohio, & Tennessee.

Part 29: 2015-MAY:
How the public may react if the Court rules
for marriage equality in Obergefell (Cont'd):
Webmaster's expects nation will accept change;
Franklin Graham expects persecution;
James Dobson predicts civil war possible.
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We use the acronym "SSM" to represent "same-sex marriage."
"LGBT" refers to lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender persons
and transsexuals. "LGB" refers to lesbians, gays, and bisexuals.

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This topic is continued from the previous essay

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thumbs up imageThis webmaster's predictions about the high Court's decision and how people might react to it (Cont'd):

The main reason for the deep split in opinions among the Justices on the U.S. Supreme Court over marriage equality is that:

  • The conservative Justices generally believe that the original federal Constitution and its subsequent amendments are static documents that must be interpreted in terms of the beliefs of the authors and the culture at the time the documents were written. Back in the late 18th century, slavery was legal, women could not vote, same-gender sexual behavior was considered a criminal offense, the concept of homosexual orientation was unknown, and same-sex marriage was out of the question.

  • The liberal Justices generally believe that the federal Constitution and amendments are living documents whose meaning must be interpreted in terms of present-day cultural values and scientific knowledge. Since the Constitution was written, slavery has been abolished, women have generally received equal treatment to men, same-gender sexual behavior in private by adults has been decriminalized, women can vote, human sexuality researchers have learned a great deal about the nature of sexual orientation & gender identity, and most adults now favor allowing same-sex couples to marry.

As Harvard Professor Michael Klarman wrote:

"Same-sex marriage has advanced from an absurd constitutional argument to a compelling one -- at least in the mind of five Justices -- because public attitudes regarding sexual orientation have been transformed over the last half-century." 1

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When the Justices of the High Court issue their ruling in mid-2015, I expect that they will legalize same-sex marriage across the entire country -- in the District of Columbia, 50 states, and 5 territories. In response:

  • About two in three American adults will be pleased with the ruling.

  • A strong minority who remain opposed to SSM will complain, but will eventually learn to accept it, as they accepted interracial marriage after the same court's ruling in the Loving v. Virginia case in in 1967. (That was the most recent previous time that the Supreme Court changed the definition of marriage.)

  • The remaining minority will not care because the Justices' ruling will not negatively impact their lives or marriages to any significant degree.

As one Republican state representative said recently: the sun will rise the next morning at its usual time, and life will go on.

I mainly base these predictions on three factors:

  • The change to the institution of marriage will be minimal. There would be an initial flood of new marriages solemnized by same-sex couples. However, that surge will be temporary and the rate of future marriages by same-sex couples will probably stabilize at level less than 5% of the total number of marriages.

  • To date, there have been few negative effects during the adoption of marriage equality by 37 states and the District of Columbia. People may suspect that a same-sex couple who live a few blocks away may be getting married. However, that event will not have any significant impact on anyone other than the same sex couple involved.

  • Older teens and young adults form the first generation in the history of the United States where the majority of the cohort knowingly have a gay or lesbian person as a friend or family member. This generation has largely accepted the LGBT community and consider discrimination against them to be a form of bigotry similar to sexism, racism, religism, and xenophobia. The furor over same-sex marriage will die down. What many in that generation regard is religiously-based bigotry will fade. The exodus of many young people from the faith group in which they were raised will slow down somewhat. because they will no longer feel uncomfortable with what they consider to be bigotry by the church in which they were raised.

The number of states that attained marriage equality increased greatly between mid-2013 and early 2015 from 10 to 37. This happened in a few states by action of their legislature or by a plebiscite by the voters. However, it happened in most states by a state or federal court ruling. With the exception of Alabama, this increase happened relatively uneventfully. Some voters in each state were upset, but the transition occurred without riots or violence. Only in Alabama, so far, has there been open defiance to a court decision. In Alabama's case, that was mainly due to the actions of one person: Chief Justice Roy Moore of the Alabama Supreme Court.

If the high court approves same-sex marriage across the country, then the number of states with marriage equality will increase from 37 to 50 and all five U.S. territories will follow suit. The percentage of people who live in a location where same-sex couples can marry will increase from 72% to 100%. I expect many angry comments, scary predictions, and a few demonstrations, but little active resistance to the change. Hopefully, there will be no violence. But, to be realistic, a temporary surge in gay bashing and attacks on transgender individuals is likely.

About a half century ago, the U.S. Supreme Court legalized interracial marriage. This was a serious violation of the cultural beliefs of many Americans at the time. However, interracial marriage is now widely accepted. The same process will occur with same-sex marriage. By the middle of this century, people will generally accept marriage equality and wonder what the fuss was all about. Most children will grow up expecting to eventually find a person that they love and to whom they will want to make a lifetime commitment and perhaps raise a family -- no matter what they discover their sexual orientation to be.

But, ultimately, only time will tell whether these predictions are accurate.

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Rev Franklin Graham predicts a "storm of persecution" if, as most expect, the Supreme Court rules in favor of marriage equality:

Rev. Graham posted a message on his Facebook page saying:

"Pray for our Supreme Court justices as they consider the issue of same sex marriage for our nation — today pray especially for Justice Clarence Thomas who has served on the court for over 23 years. I assure you this [decision] affects each and every one of us.

There will be a storm of persecution against all people who follow God and His standards if this passes." 2

His comment concerning Justice Thomas seem strange. There is a general agreement among commentators that Justices Thomas and Scalia -- the two most conservative Justices on he U.S. Supreme Court -- are certain to vote to uphold the four states' discriminatory bans against marriages by same-sex couples when they vote on the Obergefell v. Hodges case in mid-2015. Many commentators regard Justices Kennedy and Alito as potential swing voters on marriage equality.

Rev. Graham's "storm of persecution" appears to be referring to the impacts of human rights laws in various states -- and ordinances in some municipalities -- that cover "public accommodations." These are retail companies that are in business to supply goods and services to the general public. They are required to not discriminate against their customers on the basis of the latter's skin color, religion, race, gender, religion, etc. Some such laws and ordinances include sexual orientation and gender identity as additional groups to be protected against discrimination.

There have probably been many dozens instances of discrimination by public accommodations against same-sex couples who seek goods and/or services for their weddings. Examples are orders for wedding cakes, hiring of a wedding photographer, renting of wedding venues, etc. Most of these have probably gone unreported. Perhaps a dozen or so have resulted in complaints filed with human rights tribunals. Most such cases have resulted in the store owner(s) being found guilty of violating the laws or ordinances, and often fined. In some cases, these fines have been severe.

Some store owners have found that many members of the public who oppose equal rights for the LGBT community subsequently flock to their stores in large numbers. This often results in a massive increase in store profits that greatly outweighs the amount of the fine.

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Rev James Dobson predicts a civil war if, as most expect, the Supreme Court rules in favor of marriage equality:

A group of anti-LGBT activists jointed in a conference call to discuss marriage equality.

  • Janet Porter, who has created a documentary film about how the drive for equal rights in marriage will cause Christianity to be outlawed in the U.S., talked about her campaign for Congress to pass a restraining order that would prevent the High Court from legalizing same-sex marriage

  • Rev. Dobson is the founder of Focus on the Family, a fundamentalist Christian ministry to families led by opposite-sex spouses and single parents. He discussed the unprecedented "level of intensity" over marriage equality which has brought the country to the brink of conflct. He said:

    "Talk about a Civil War, we could have another one over this. ... The country can be no stronger than its families. I really believe if what the Supreme Court is about to do is carried through with, and it looks like it will be, then we’re going to see a general collapse in the next decade or two. I just am convinced of that. So we need to do everything we can to try to hold ... [marriage equality] back and to preserve the institution of marriage. ... [Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R) said that Congress is] scared to death. ... We don't have support really anywhere in Government."

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This topic continues in the next essay.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Michael Klarman, "Commentary: The Supreme Court and marriage for same-sex couples — Part II," SCOTUSblog, 2015-APR-16, at: http://www.scotusblog.com/"
  2. Franklin Graham, "I commend Barronelle Stutzman..." Facebook, 2012-MAY-12, at: https://www.facebook.com/

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How you may have arrived here:

Copyright © 2015 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.
First posted: 2015-MAY-15
Latest update: 2015-MAY-15
Author: B.A. Robinson
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