The Supremes Decision Enshrines Cultural Nihilism in the Constitution.

The Supremes Decision Enshrines Cultural Nihilism in the Constitution. June 26, 2015

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Tori Rector
Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Tori Rector

Today, the United States Supreme Court ended marriage as a stable legal institution in the United States of America.

In flowery language that often sounds like it came from a Harlequin Romance, the decision quotes everybody from Confucius, to Cicero to Alexis de Tocqueville, to the American Association of Psychiatry.

Here’s a sample:

The centrality of marriage to the human condition makes it unsurprising that the institution has existed for millennia and across civilizations. Since the dawn of history, marriage has transformed strangers into rela- tives, binding families and societies together. Confucius taught that marriage lies at the foundation of government. 2 Li Chi: Book of Rites 266 (C. Chai & W. Chai eds., J. Legge transl. 1967). This wisdom was echoed centuries later and half a world away by Cicero, who wrote, “The first bond of society is marriage; next, children; and then the family.” See De Officiis

The Court attempts to justify what is in fact the creation of new law. It also overturns its own ruling of a couple of years ago that marriage should be left to the states. Needless to say, a bit of reaching is involved in this legal sophistry.

The decision actually goes past new law creation and claims an almost seer-like knowledge of the minds of the plaintiffs. It then bases this huge decision of the United States Supreme Court at least in part on what it believes it sees in the plaintiff’s hearts.

I want to be clear. The Decision actually uses the Justices personal impressions that the petitioner’s motives are pure as a reason for the findings of the decision itself.

Were their intent to demean the revered idea and reality of marriage, the petitioners’ claims would be of a different order. But that is neither their purpose nor their submission. To the contrary, it is the enduring importance of marriage that underlies the petitioners’ contentions. This, they say, is their whole point. Far from seeking to devalue marriage, the petitioners seek it for themselves because of their respect—and need—for its privileges and responsibilities.

We are treated to a spot of history about women’s rights, which is irrelevant since the situation Justice Kennedy describes was remedied at the state level. Then, we are reminded that marriages were once arranged, even though the Decision concedes that this has never been a legal construct of marriage in America. It doesn’t state, as it should, that this makes the consideration bogus.

When Justice Kennedy finally starts to reference the law, he goes immediately to the right of privacy that the Court created in Roe v Wade. In a deep irony, the findings of Roe concerning the then newly-created right of privacy are used to destroy marriage in America.

The decision spends quite a bit of time explaining that the Constitution is an elastic document and that finding new “rights” in it is within the purview of the Court. That is where it places most of its legal arguments.

The actual arguments it articulates for “finding” a right to gay marriage in the 14th Amendment are all touchy-feely, emotional stuff. They also reference hardships and problems which are easily solvable without this draconian decision.

The decision wastes a bit of gas emphasizing the “two people” construct of marriage. But it does not define marriage as such. In fact, it does not define marriage as anything other than an emotional bonding between undefined persons who are empowered to legal rights concerning this bonding by a new right to “individual autonomy” and a previously court-created right to privacy.

And even that is not a definition. It’s just the way the Court talks about marriage.

Under this ruling. marriage is whatever an individual or group of individuals, exercising their right to “individual autonomy” and their right to privacy say that it is. The ruling specifically addresses gay marriage, but the way it does it opens the door to anything and everything at all.

Since the Court appears to “find” rights in the Constitution independent of the document itself, we won’t have long to wait before the complete destruction of marriage becomes a fact. Any attempts to impose definitions and limitations on marriage, to create a legal entity called marriage that is recognizably something real, is going to run smack into the arguments created in this Decision.

Marriage has become a private, rather than a legal matter. At the same time, it has also become a supremely legal matter. Marriage is now a 14th Amendment dueling point which will be pitted against every other right given to Americans in the Constitution. The First Amendment freedom of religion is, of course, the most endangered. But once it is vanquished, others will follow.

The Court has done it again.

It has set this nation on a course of decades-long culture war. This vague and destructive decision does more than create a new kind of marriage. It recreates marriage entirely by making it subject to a “right to individual autonomy” and a “right to privacy.” This newly-created type of “marriage” is not marriage at all. It is an elastic construct with no boundaries, fixed definitions or even an actual predictable existence.

It’s a lengthy decision. I can’t critique it in full in a blog post. You can read it for yourself here.

Suffice it to say that marriage is now meaningless under the law.

The Supreme Court has done more than create a new kind of marriage. It has enshrined cultural nihilism in the Constitution.

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39 responses to “The Supremes Decision Enshrines Cultural Nihilism in the Constitution.”

  1. As I read Kennedy’s praise for the truths and fruits of traditional marriage and watched as he turned those truths and fruits into the ‘good’ sterile lie of ssm, I had the distinct impression he was channeling Screwtape.

  2. “Suffice it to say that marriage is now meaningless under the law.”

    Do you say this to long-time gay couples you know who finally are able to marry? Even elderly ones who had to hide their identity during the long years when being “outed” was dangerous? Do you tell them that the marriage they enter into tomorrow in Oklahoma City is “meaningless”?

  3. I have been sick to my stomach since I learned of the decision on Friday morning. Thank you for your words.

  4. Perhaps you saw the story on a gay couple who had been together for 55 years and were finally able to marry yesterday. Don’t remember the state, but one in which it was previously not allowed. I’m happy for them.

  5. We’ve seen a lot of stories like that in the past 10 years. The photos of tearful couples finally able to get married, I am sure, moved many people into the pro-marriage equality camp.

  6. The good news is that we now have a living laboratory to see if those goodies are the fruit of civil marriage, i.e. can we partner up any twosome, declare them married, and get the same results.

    The bad news is that no one will know, because it won’t make the news and the books won’t be published.

  7. This ruling may not personally affect my marriage but it will affect everyone’s children and thus ultimately society. How so? This will lead the state (via public schools and *corporate propaganda) to indoctrinate children that it’s perfectly normal for them to marry Tommy or Tammy, and if your parents don’t agree with this “right,” they might be bigots.

    *(Just google “esurance” for its “equal dreams” commercials featuring very young kids who are fantasizing about their dream weddings, and how this seques into gay marriage.)

    Future children will be deprived of at least one biological parent in same-sex marriages which will cause psychological and emotional damage. We already know how a generation of kids have suffered under no-fault divorce (I and my sisters can testify to that), but this will lead to even more suffering. All the love in the world won’t take away the sadness children feel when they lose part of their biological family connection. (And this doesn’t even take into account the increased health risks — cancers, STD’s, HIV, etc. — that go along with the “gay” lifestyle.)

    I cannot stop thinking about Matthew 18:6 after this decision.

  8. Rebecca, I made an edit to my comment below, clarifying the Esurance “equal dreams” commercial. In the commercial, innocent kids are fantasizing about their weddings which then seques into gay marriage. Sentimental music and children are used to bolster the emotional argument that everyone needs happiness (except ultimately the children who in the long run who will be the ones who suffer the most).

    Do I think that having the Supreme Court declare same-sex marriage as a “right” will make gay people happier? No, because as you said in an earlier post, this is really about the feeling of acceptance. Maybe public shaming via the stocks and pillories will be brought back from Puritan days of old for those who don’t affirm their acceptance or cannot be educated in the proper way.

    Many Americans and Christians do love and accept gay people but the Supreme Court decision may undermine their acceptance due to the damage inflicted on children and society.

  9. I have been in a delightful heterosexual marriage for 28 years with a lovely Christian woman and yesterday changed nothing. I’m pretty sure the law doesn’t ask me to dissolve my current union and go gay. I think you should send your unhinged article to the folks in Canada, who have had gay marriage for 10 years; it will probably come as news to them that they are less married than they thought.

  10. Something occurred to me at Mass today. A family member of the Charleston 9 made the comment that God allows what he hates, to accomplish what he loves.

    Now, Americans have mocked marriage for 60 years or more, since the advent of no-fault divorce. The Bachelor/Bachelorette are a mockery of marriage. The list could be extended.

    Into this societal swamp comes gay marriage. Perhaps it’s a sign of the already accomplished social failure. Maybe it’s simply another foundation block being knocked out, or maybe it’s the beginning of of a societal re-model. In either case, ssm doesn’t stand independent of prior faults in our society.

  11. Indoctrinate? More like they can now teach the truth; that same-sex attraction is normal, and OK. What is indoctrination are the laws requiring teaching Christian Creationism in schools.

  12. Thank you, Rebecca. You succinctly explain a wordy, sometimes frothy, document. The bottom line is that the Supreme Court of the former United States of America has declared that marriage is whatever some emotionally needy person says it is. Thank you for making it so clear. (I say “former” because the union that has been called the United States of America was defined by the Constitution of that union. As near as I can tell, the union so defined no longer exists, because nobody cares what the Constitution says anymore.)

  13. No, it teaches a lie. Same-sex sexual attraction is not normal, and you yourself know that.

  14. AnneG., I read that article. I don’t understand how the article is evidence of the SCOTUS decision will lead to polygamy, incest and worse. Can you clarify?

  15. On the secular side the I think the argument is simple.

    1) America is a country of many religious and non-religious beliefs. Religious beliefs should not be encoded into law.
    2) People are attracted to people of the opposite sex and to the people of the same sex; and both are normal.
    3) Marriage is a human right; a right inherent to everyone without discrimination.
    4) The 14th Amendment is pretty broad, and when it says, “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States”, it means exactly that; restricting it to only opposite-sex couples abridges the rights of same-sex couples (just as it abridged the rights of mixed-race couples).
    5) The 14th Amendment continues, “nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” As long as marriage is one of the freedoms we enjoy as American citizens restricting it to only opposite-sex couples limits the freedoms and liberties of same-sex couples; just as it abridged the rights of mixed-race couples.

    However, on the religious side I think that the argument is also simple.

    1) God’s law is the one true law.
    2) Marriage is a privilege bestowed by God. Same-sex marriage goes against our teachings.
    3) Homosexuality is immoral and goes against centuries of tradition.
    4) The 14th Amendment is pretty narrow, and when it says, “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States”, it means exactly that; Marriage is a privilege afforded only to opposite-sex couples.
    5) The 14th Amendment continues, “nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” Marriage is one of the freedoms opposite-sex couples enjoy as American citizens.

    While there are many more arguments on each side — some less tenuous than others — both sides are feeling attacked. And emotions are making these arguments more complicated. Points 1-3 on each side are not mutually exclusive. Gays can marry and the straight can marry. These can co-exist and we will be OK. And if there is a God, then maybe the believers will be OK, and the rest of us… not so much. Points 4 and 5, this is more complicated. I happen to think that SCOTUS clarified things, they didn’t legislate anything. We’ll debate this for a while. To think that SSM is the end of the United States is insane. We have endured and overcome actual threats.

    The United States is a multi-cultural society that enjoys a citizenry of many cultural backgrounds and of many beliefs, living in relative peace. As the country grows and more people are assimilated, the more complicated and diverse it grows, and we still manage to keep the peace. This is just another growing pain that we will work through.

  16. Sorry, but I do not know that same-sex attraction is not normal. Quite the opposite. Just as I know that my attraction to the opposite sex is normal, I know that same-sex attraction is normal. How do I know? I know from the many, many lesbian and gay people that have come in and out of my life, that what they feel is normal. Just as I know from the many bi-sexual people that have come in and out of my life, that what they feel is normal. You may disagree and think it is sinful or disgusting, but they have real, and meaningful, feelings, just like you. And it’s not because they are products of dysfunctional upbringing or single mother/father households “turning” them gay. From a sexual/romantic perspective, it’s just the way they are just as you are the way are. It’s just that we live in a time where the shaming is no longer going to be tolerated and accepted.

  17. No one is shaming them. It’s calling it like it is, I have known many gay people and same-sex attraction is intrinsically disordered, just as the church says. You can put lipstick on it, but it’s still a pig.

  18. I disagree. We in the United States are still one country. Nothing former about it. Daily life will continue for everyone, those who are married to the opposite gender, those who are marred to a same gender person, those who are single and may or may not marry in the future. The only difference, which again will probably not have any effect on you, is that SS couples now have the legal right to marry and enjoy the perks that gives them legally. Everyone will still get up in the AM, go to work (if they have a job), come home, etc. Life will go on with all its ups and downs. Some babies will be born, some folks will die—life continues. Our country is just fine, just now more equal.

  19. I totally agree that The Bachelor/Bachelorette is a mockery of marriage. I have never watched it, don’t intend to start, as just the commercials are enough to make one wonder WHY it was ever produced!

  20. I hate to tell you this, but that is the argument made for man-boy love.

    Right and wronh are not determined by feelings, that are subject to change. Feelings are good advertising ploys to self product. A stable life, much less marriage, can’t be based on feelings.

    Anyway, I’ll match your claims about your gay friends with the wreckage I’ve seen among my gay friends, and even the times they have told me they knew their behavior was wrong.

  21. Wow.. just wow. Their behavior is wrong because of generations of shaming and religious indoctrination.

    For those of you arguing that marriage isn’t about feelings… are you robots? There is no love in your relationship? Your “Marriage is a contract” excuse is tenuous, at best.

  22. “Wow…just wow” is not a response. No more then the rest of your comment.

    Their behavior is wrong because of generations of shaming and religious indoctrination.

    Is that your compassionate response to the suffering of gay people I’ve cared about?

    But to clarify, I didn’t make a “marriage is a contract” argument. Nor did I say that feelings are not involved in romantic relationships. I said that feelings are not a basis for making decisions. If you think differently, good luck with that. But at least don’t misstate my comments.

  23. Sorry.. the “feeling” part was addressing a bunch of other ones. Just happened to be in the reply to you.

    The suffering of gay people has a root cause, and that suffering is put on them by our society. The same society that makes that forces them to “stay in the closet,” and date and marry people they don’t love. Or be alone for their whole lives.

  24. Difference is they have never been sanctioned as marriage. They are sometimes criminal offenses. They will be legalized, which seems to be what you want.