So: A major battle in America's culture war has ended. Sort of. But not quite.
In Obergefell v. Hodges, the US Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples are constitutionally entitled to state marriage licenses under the 14th Amendment's equal protection and due process clauses. Opponents of marriage apartheid celebrate; opponents of same-sex marriage mourn. I fall into the former camp, but I understand the concerns of those who find the ruling devastating. Here are a few tips on how to deal with it:
- If you oppose same-sex marriage, don't marry someone of the same sex. Pretty easy, right? This isn't as bad as you're trying to make it out to be. You're still perfectly free to be heterosexual and to marry someone of the opposite sex.
- If you are a government employee involved in the issuance of marriage licenses and your religious beliefs keep you from issuing those licenses to same-sex couples, quit and go find work in the private sector. You're entitled to your religious beliefs. You're not entitled to a government paycheck for refusing to do your job.
- If you are a private sector worker whose job involves weddings — clergy, caterer, baker, florist, photographer, what have you — and your beliefs forbid you to participate in same-sex weddings, by all means stand your ground. Yes, there will be malicious, vexatious and frivolous litigation for awhile as activists try to legally enslave you. But those of us who really support marriage freedom support your freedom too. We'll stand with you and defend your rights. You will win out.
- Finally, understand that very little has actually changed.
Marriage has existed for about as long as people have — probably before religion and certainly before the state and its licensing schemes. Marriage has been around for as long as people have been around. Same-sex marriage has been around for approximately as long.
The only differences post-Obergefell are that same-sex couples now fill out the same paperwork and pay the same fees as heterosexual couples, and for their trouble are now entitled to the same state recognitions (benefits AND penalties).
Personally, I celebrate the Obergefell ruling for two reasons:
First, because I don't think members of the LGBTQ community can conscionably be treated as second-class citizens.
Secondly, because reducing the state's discretion and ability to discriminate in turn reduces its power over all of us. That's something we should all want.
The next logical step is to end state licensing of marriage altogether. Neither same-sex nor opposite sex couples (nor, for that matter, groups larger than couples) should have to seek the state's permission to marry, nor should anyone be privileged or penalized by the state for marrying.
Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org).