Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

Commentary

July 9, 2013

Justice Anthony Kennedy’s contempt

Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy has contempt for a swath of his fellow citizens.

If you disagree with him about gay marriage, indeed, if you merely think the federal government should continue to define marriage the traditional way while the states define it however they want, then you are a bigot. Your views deserve no political representation.

They should be ground underfoot by the five mightiest and most broad-minded people in the land, presiding from their temple of rationality and tolerance at the United States Supreme Court.

Kennedy wrote the majority decision striking down the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman for purposes of federal law. The decision declared a position that had been held by President Barack Obama until the day before as being a relic of barbarism, and set the predicate for the court — in its wisdom, nay, in its heightened state of enlightenment — to enshrine its view of marriage as the law from sea to shining sea.

The majority held that DOMA inflicts an “injury and indignity” on gay couples so severe that it denies “an essential part of the liberty protected by the Fifth Amendment.” It is motivated by a “bare congressional desire to harm a politically unpopular group.” There is, in short, nothing to be said for it or the point of view of its supporters. Period. Full stop.

Kennedy mumbles about federalism concerns, but it’s hard to argue that the federal government can’t work from its own definition of marriage. As Ed Whelan of the Ethics and Public Policy Center points out, it has myriad programs that require such a definition.

“Under provisions of the Internal Revenue Code,” Whelan writes, “a person who is legally separated from his spouse, but not yet divorced, is treated as unmarried, as is a person whose spouse is a nonresident alien. Likewise, under the immigration laws, a marriage entered into for the purpose of gaining an immigrant’s admission will be disregarded even though that marriage remains valid under state law.”

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