SCOTUS Hears Marriage Arguments

By Richard Nelson

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April 30, 2015

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On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on whether the U.S. Constitution requires states to recognize homosexual marriage. Here are a few poignant questions:

"[Thinking marriage is the union of a man and a woman] has been with us for millennia. And it—it’s very difficult for the Court to say, oh, well, we—we know better.” –Justice Anthony Kennedy

“Every definition that I looked up, prior to about a dozen years ago, defined marriage as unity between a man and a woman as husband and wife…. you’re not seeking to join the institution, you’re seeking to change what the institution is. The fundamental core of the institution is the opposite-sex relationship and you want to introduce into it a same-sex relationship.” –Chief Justice John Roberts

"How do you account for the fact that, as far as I’m aware, until the end of the 20th century, there never was a nation or a culture that recognized marriage between two people of the same sex? Now, can we infer from that that those nations and those cultures all thought that there was some rational, practical purpose for defining marriage in that way or is it your argument that they were all operating independently based solely on irrational stereotypes and prejudice? –Justice Samuel Alito

[Marriage understood as between one man and one woman] “has been the law everywhere for thousands of years among people who were not discriminating even against gay people, and suddenly you want nine people outside the ballot box to require states that don’t want to do it to change … what marriage is…. Why cannot those states at least wait and see whether in fact doing so in the other states is or is not harmful to marriage?  –Justice Stephen Breyer

Justice Alito, questioned Solicitor General Donald Verrilli about religious freedom. Verrilli admitted that religious schools that teach marriage to be between one man and one woman may forfiet their non-profit tax-exempt status. Verrilli said “It’s certainly going to be an issue. I don’t deny that. I don’t deny that." Justice Alito. It is—it is going to be an issue.”


Justice Alito questioned why stop at same-sex partners? “A group consisting of two men and two women apply for a marriage license. Would there be any ground for denying them a license? Why not include the foursome?… What would be the ground under the logic of the decision you would like us to hand down in this case? What would be the logic of denying them the same right?… .   How about siblings?  They’ve lived together for 25 years. Their financial relationship is the same as the same-sex couple. They share household expenses and household chores in the same way. They care for each other in the same way. Is there any reason why the law should treat the two groups differently?"


 

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