Once upon a time and not so very long ago, there was a Supreme Court decision that was very important among the people. The case was duly reported by the drive-by media, but some simple people like myself only caught part of the title and almost none of the content of the decision.
The case in question called forth the court’s final answer on same sex marriages. The decision overturned parts of laws passed by some states to limit the right of same-sex couple to marry. The headline as my puny mind absorbed it read like this:
Supreme court overrules (all) state laws regulating marriage.
The headline should have read:
Supreme court overrules state laws restricting the rights of same sex couples to marry.
You can see there is a major difference between what my mind remembered from the news and what the court issued in its decision. I kept watching the news waiting to see the fall out of all the state practices pertaining to marriage.
What if the first headline as I remembered it had become the real case? What are the domains included in state marriage laws? As you begin with the truncated headline, you realize that state marriage laws include issuance and registration of licenses, performance of wedding ceremonies and registration of officials licensed to perform the ceremonies. Divorce and property settlement are part of marriage law. State classification as common-law or community-property law states is part of marriage law. Intestate succession makes Probate a part of the body of marriage law.
Some state laws pertaining to marriage were acquired by treaty. Treaty law is outside the jurisdiction of the court, so the states that got community-property by treaty would remain community property states. These states have no common law marriage, so they would have then had no way to offer marriages. Want equal protection? Zap, now nobody can get married.
OK, you could have still gotten married. In D.C.! or by contract of marriage and using a Federal Official like a military chaplain.
Now. aren’t you really glad that the news was better than the headline? We still have all our former state laws, AND more citizens have equal protection under the 14th Amendment of the Constitution. I take back everything I said about the Supreme Court based on that puny truncated headline. It was a good decision, public complaints not withstanding.
This is where we should be able to end the story by saying the same-sex couples all got married and everyone lived happily ever-after (or at least until they died).
The truth is something went very, very wrong. Same sex couples needed wedding services. Persons to officiate a ceremony, people to make dresses and cakes. This is were things began to go South. Some people in the service industries believed that there services were part of their religious practice. They thought they should be able to perform or not perform based on freedom of religion. Seems reasonable. But people blazing new social trails are seldom reasonable.
Ordinary people like me and you were taken to court for expressing their religious faith. They were marked as criminals, much as Jews in Germany were forced to wear yellow stars. Much as Hitler rounded up Jehovah’s Witnesses before his war. Forcing people to do a service that goes beyond their personal religious faith has the smell of the establishment of religion. It is a lot like the Spanish Inquisition. If you can accept with me that forcing people to perform religious acts against their own belief system, you have to accept that these court cases in effect were a violation of civil rights and an unlawful establishment of religion.
Inasmuch as the courts and some of the prosecutors were paid out of funds appropriated by Congress, the cost of these trials was unlawful. The Congressional Office of Management and Budget should make a survey and see who and where Justice funds were unlawfully used. Further, 1) the prosecuting attorneys should repay to the treasury their salaries for the cases, and the costs of the court; 2) the defendants should receive their reasonable defense cost plus fifty percent for loss of normal income while defending themselves.
The congress should act quickly to right this great wrong. The President should consider setting up a special prosecutor. If he fails to do so, this may become an issue for the coming presidential elections. They great wrong done by these unlawful prosecutions has done more harm to the faith of the people in government and more damage to their civil rights that the September 11 hijackings. But in this case our ship of state has been hijacked by attorneys in our federal courts.
Can we get past this and live happily ever after? Please reach out and share your own need for freedom. Can you perhaps set another human being free?