Saturday, June 26, 1993: My wedding day. Probably the only one I’ll ever have. If the right man comes along, maybe, but I’m not holding my breath. He was a good guy, truly, kind, a bit laid back, not one to party, not so good with money but no one’s perfect; just not the right one for me. It didn’t last, but it was legal. Before 1967, in several states, it wouldn’t have been. Nor would my parents’ marriage. Thanks to Richard and Mildred Loving, and a bunch of other people who helped, we could marry, and it would be recognized in all 50 states.
Friday, June 26, 2015, 10:00 am EDT: The Supreme Court of the United States is wrapping up their 2014-2015 term, with just a few days left. There are some high-profile cases on the docket that require a decision before the term ends, one they’ve already decided. On this Friday, when they share their decisions, they begin with Obergfell v. Hodges. Less than ten minutes in, it’s clear what the decision will be.
Pretty sure you know where I stand on this one.
It DOES NOT mean that places of worship will suddenly have to accept same-sex couples, that they will have to allow weddings in their buildings officiated by their leaders, any more than they are required to perform marriages between persons of different faiths or different races.
It DOES mean those places of worship that do accept same-sex couples, that want to officiate over such a wedding, are free to do so. It means the state, and the states (not the same thing) must recognize those marriages as legal, in the same way as marriages between persons of different faiths, different races, different genders are recognized.
It DOES NOT mean people will be allowed to marry their children or dogs. That’s just idiotic.
It DOES mean two consenting adults, regardless of gender, will be allowed to enter into a legal contract of marriage, and partake of all the legal benefits therein.
It DOES NOT mean marriage as an institution is under attack.
It DOES mean the institution of marriage is considered important enough that two adults who’ve dedicated their lives to one another would like it to recognized.
If your relationship is threatened by same-sex marriage, then, to put it bluntly, at least one of you is gay.
The comparison between Loving v Virginia and Obergfell v Hodges is not random, nor is it inappropriate. I remind you, Mildred Loving had a statement prepared for the 40th anniversary of the Loving v Virginia decision:
“When my late husband*, Richard, and I got married in Washington, DC in 1958, it wasn’t to make a political statement or start a fight. We were in love, and we wanted to be married. …
“When Richard and I came back to our home in Virginia, happily married, we had no intention of battling over the law. We made a commitment to each other in our love and lives, and now had the legal commitment, called marriage, to match. Isn’t that what marriage is? …
“I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard’s and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That’s what Loving, and loving, are all about.”
Coretta Scott King, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s widow, felt pretty similarly. Her husband may have disagreed, but we’ll never know for sure. People do grow, and opinions can change.
It’s about time.
No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right. The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is reversed.
It is so ordered. – Justice Anthony Kennedy, SCOTUS
*In case the other link is broken.