The long wait is finally coming to an end. Within the next few months, the debate about the legality of same-sex marriage will be decided once and for all, and legal experts are convinced that the Supreme Court will come down in favor of gay marriage.
The case before the court involves plaintiffs from Ohio, Michigan, Tennessee, and Kentucky, four out of 13 states that still have a ban on same-sex marriage. Should the court decide that these bans are unconstitutional, it would serve as a legal precedent extending to the rest of the country. At issue is whether or not bans against gay marriage fall afoul of the 14th Amendment, which guarantees equal protection under the law. The judges must determine whether or not this means states have the obligation to recognize and allow gay marriage.
Despite the general assumption that the Supreme Court will indeed make gay marriage the law of the land, this fight is far from over. Reading the 14th Amendment in this way stretches the notion of judicial discretion. And even if you can make that stretch, a decision legalizing gay marriage at the federal level has inevitable consequences. The worst of which – as so clearly demonstrated over the last year – is the clash between gay marriage and religious freedom. We tend not to play favorites when it comes to the Constitution (this Amendment is more important than that one, and so forth), but when one Amendment specifically forbids the government from infringing on religious belief, we should err in favor of the printed text.
Ten years ago, ironically, this might have been a clearer case for homosexuals. Back then, we could still believe them when they said that their marriage rights wouldn’t affect us at all. We could still believe them when they promised that all of those slippery-slope arguments were just so much hogwash. But we know better now. We’ve seen that gay marriage is only the beginning. We must not only “tolerate” gay marriage but actively participate in it. Will we see exemption laws allowing churches and pastors and private business owners to “opt out” of gay marriage? Doubtful, if the fight over Indiana’s religious freedom law is any indication. The prevailing legal opinion seems to be that you can take any position on gay marriage you want, but you can’t do anything about it.
And since we’ve seen that slippery-slope arguments hold more water than the LGBT movement wanted us to think, then it is perfectly valid to speculate on which doors we’re opening with this ruling. What arguments are there against polygamy that stand when the arguments against gay marriage fall? What other words will we change the definition of in order to suit the liberal agenda? How broadly can we interpret the Constitution before the original document bears little resemblance to the active law of the land?
Before the nine justices rush to make history with a landmark ruling this summer, they should carefully consider these questions. The judicial branch doesn’t exist to slap a stamp of approval on every liberal trend that shrouds itself in the guise of “civil rights.” The court that shocked America with brave rulings on Hobby Lobby and Citizen’s United needs to prove once again that it won’t be swayed by protestors and social justice movements. Let’s leave this one to the states.