The Supreme Court Is Not Going To Legalize Same-Sex Marriage — So Lay Off The Doomsday Predictions
There’s a constant stream of dire predictions from conservative commentators and religious leaders about what will happen if the Supreme Court legalizes same-sex marriage. People will marry their dogs, God will destroy the country, people will be afraid to admit they’re Christians, pastors will go into hiding, the entire human population will die off. All of this is ridiculous for numerous reasons — but we’ll focus on one of the chief reasons, central to all of these fear: the Supreme Court will not legalize same-sex marriage.
The Supreme Court cannot legalize same-sex marriage — it’s already legal.
Okay, let me explain that. It may seem like splitting hairs, but in truth, the difference between ‘legalizing same-sex marriage’ and what the court will actually do is very relevant and important.
If the Supreme Court decides that, yes, the right to marry a same-sex partner is guaranteed by the constitution, then it’s true that marriage equality will become the law of the land. Same-sex marriages will begin in states that have resisted (though some *cough*Alabama*cough* will probably fight for more delays), and the right will be affirmed in all states.
In terms of protecting the rights of same-sex couples, this is a very big deal. In terms of the doomsday predictions our beloved conservative leaders have been tirelessly braying about, though, it’s a pretty small deal.
You see, same-sex marriages are already happening. In the 37 states where same-sex marriage is already legal, pastors are not hiding in storm cellars.No pastors have been ordered to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies (and there are legal protections in place preventing any pastor from ever performing a marriage he doesn’t choose to perform). Christians (and Muslims) in these states haven’t been forced to quit going to church or lose their jobs. No lightning strikes have destroyed entire states. (There have been some natural disasters of course — just like before marriage equality began. Nothing that looks, to any rational person, like a broad judgement on the nation or state by any deity, though.) All the straight couples have not gotten divorces and sought out same-sex spouses.
The Supreme Court will not be legalizing same-sex relationships. Same-sex relationships are legal in every U.S. state. So far, no fire has rained down from the sky.
The Supreme Court will not be legalizing adoption by same-sex couples. That’s already legal in several states, and the sexual abuse that the right-wing claims will happen isn’t happening.
The Supreme Court will not be making discrimination against same-sex couples illegal, or ruling on whether you can say hateful things about gay people, or deciding whether being anti-gay is a part of Christianity. Anti-discrimination laws vary by locale, and where they don’t yet exist, they are likely on the way, regardless of this ruling. As for saying hateful things, or believing that homosexuality is a sin, those are your protected rights, no matter what the court rules — just like you can still say racist things without going to jail, and can still have religious beliefs declaring women as inferior humans, despite ostensible racial and gender equality in America.
Let me say that again, clearly: a group being granted equal rights does not take away your right to hate them, speak ill of them, or have religious beliefs about them. It only takes away your right to deny them equal rights.
In short, same-sex marriage is legal in America. It’s not yet a protected right in all states, but it is happening across the country. Same-sex couples are marrying.
If marriage equality was going to destroy Christianity, break up opposite-sex marriages, decrease the birth rate, lead to rampant anti-Christian discrimination, or cause God to destroy the nation by a rain of fire, we’d already be seeing signs, because marriage equality is here, for most of the nation.
The Supreme Court will, in just a few short weeks, either declare that same-sex couples must be given marriage rights in all states, or allow that states have the right to deny this basic equality. Whatever the court decides, same-sex marriage will continue in most of the nation. Whatever the court decides, people will go on with their lives. For some, that will mean spreading hate. For some, it will mean sharing love.
Whatever the Justices decide, the Supreme Court will not ‘legalize’ same-sex marriage in America. If you’re really afraid of that, you’re more than a little bit late.