On Friday, the Supreme Court ruled on Obergefell v. Hodges and wiped the traditional meaning of marriage out of the laws of the United States.
Words of the dissenting opinion by Chief Justice Roberts will resonate in legal history: “If you are among the many Americans—of whatever sexual orientation—who favor expanding same-sex marriage, by all means celebrate today’s decision. Celebrate the achievement of a desired goal. Celebrate the opportunity for a new expression of commitment to a partner. Celebrate the availability of new benefits. But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it.”
One critic called the decision “nine parts romantic poetry and one part legal analysis (if that).” The decision, a paean to libertinism, only confirms what we as a nation have been living for decades.
In 1965, with Griswold v. Connecticut, the high court of the land invented a “right” of personal privacy that separated sexual activity from its role in the social order. The cultural revolution underway at the time had already demoted sex to nothing more than a tool for the pursuit of pleasure.
In 1973, with Roe v. Wade, the high court of the land invented a further “right” of privacy that focused on a woman’s sexual freedom to the exclusion of the rights of her unborn child.
Last week, the Court invented a further “right” of liberty that focuses on sexual freedom to the exclusion of any interest on the part of society in the ordering of this strongest of primal urges.
Interesting, isn’t it, that these newly discovered liberties all seem to support childlessness? Is parenthood somehow a denial of personal liberty?
It is, of course, when its responsibilities are accepted and discharged.
And therein lies the importance and the power of parenthood.
It is precisely the acceptance and discharge of parental responsibility that anchors hormone-driven youngsters to a reality beyond themselves, as they assume the role of adults in society.
It is accepting and discharging the responsibilities that flow from sexual activity that link individuals to one another, and generations to each other and to their larger community, in a permanent bond to the past and to the future. The ordering of sexuality is the basis of society.
But in 1965, Griswold called the ordering of sexuality “governmental intrusion” and initiated the breakdown of the social order.
“Great Society” programs undertaken around the same time enabled women to relieve men of responsibility for the consequences of their sexual activity. The Pill came on the scene and enabled women to relieve themselves of that responsibility on a massive scale.
Enacted in 1971, and swiftly and permanently funded with billions of dollars to Planned Parenthood, Title X ensured that young women would never know a connection between sexual activity and responsibility—unless they learned it from their parents or their church.
And in 1973 came Roe v. Wade.
In his dissent, Justice Byron White called Roe “an exercise of raw judicial power . . . an improvident and extravagant exercise of the power of judicial review that the Constitution extends to this Court.”
Within days of that decision, Congressman Larry Hogan (R-MD), father of the current governor of that state, introduced the first of many constitutional amendments to overturn Roe. Back in April, presidential candidate and senator Ted Cruz anticipated Obergefell and introduced a constitutional amendment to define marriage as a heterosexual union. Since the decision, other presidential candidates have talked constitutional amendment.
Will a marriage amendment have a smoother path than a human life amendment?
The day after the decision was handed down, the New York Times ran a story with the headline: “Next Fight for Gay Rights: Bias in Jobs and Housing.” Many believe that a free translation of that might be: Next LGBT Target: Freedom of Religion.
At least there are words about the free exercise of religion in the Constitution—if it matters to the Supreme Court what’s in the Constitution.
* * * * *
Connie Marshner organized her first pro-life meeting in 1971, among Capitol Hill staffers who sensed a drift toward legalizing abortion. She’s worked in the movement in one capacity or another ever since.