Tag Archives: SCOTUS

Life After Obergefell: Survival Tips for the Dismayed

Same Sex Marriage
Same Sex Marriage (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


So: A major battle in America’s culture war has ended. Sort of. But not quite.

In Obergefell v. Hodges, the US Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples are constitutionally entitled to state marriage licenses under the 14th Amendment’s equal protection and due process clauses. Opponents of marriage apartheid celebrate; opponents of same-sex marriage mourn. I fall into the former camp, but I understand the concerns of those who find the ruling devastating. Here are a few tips on how to deal with it:

First, if you oppose same-sex marriage, don’t marry someone of the same sex. Pretty easy, right? This isn’t as bad as you’re trying to make it out to be. You’re still perfectly free to be heterosexual and to marry someone of the opposite sex.

Secondly, if you are a government employee involved in the issuance of marriage licenses and your religious beliefs keep you from issuing those licenses to same-sex couples, quit and go find work in the private sector. You’re entitled to your religious beliefs. You’re not entitled to a government paycheck for refusing to do your job.

Thirdly, if you are a private sector worker  whose job involves weddings — clergy, caterer, baker, florist, photographer, what have you — and your beliefs forbid you to participate in same-sex weddings, by all means stand your ground. Yes, there will be malicious, vexatious and frivolous litigation for awhile as activists try to legally enslave you. But those of us who really support marriage freedom support your freedom too. We’ll stand with you and defend your rights. You will win out.

Finally, understand that very little has actually changed.

Marriage has existed for about as long as people have — probably before religion and certainly before the state and its licensing schemes. Same-sex marriage has been around for approximately as long.

The only differences post-Obergefell are that same-sex couples now fill out the same paperwork and pay the same fees as heterosexual couples, and for their trouble are now entitled to the same state recognitions (benefits AND penalties).

Personally, I celebrate the Obergefell ruling for two reasons:

First, because I don’t think members of the LGBTQ community can conscionably be treated as second-class citizens.

Secondly, because reducing the state’s discretion and ability to discriminate in turn reduces its power over all of us. That’s something we should all want.

The next logical step is to end state licensing of marriage altogether. Neither same-sex nor opposite sex couples (nor, for that matter, groups larger than couples) should have to seek the state’s permission to marry, nor should anyone be privileged or penalized by the state for marrying.

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.




SCOTUS Saves ObamaCare — and the GOP’s 2016 Prospects

English: Depiction of the Senate vote on H.R. ...
Depiction of the Senate vote on H.R. 3590 (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) on December 24, 2009, by state. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The US Supreme Court handed down its ruling in King v. Burwell on Thursday (June 25), putting to rest the question of whether or not certain subsidies created by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“ObamaCare”) would remain available.

The Court ruled against the clear language and intent of the law. In so doing, it greatly improved the Republican Party’s slim chances of maintaining its Senate majority, and possibly even winning the White House, in 2016.

Yes, really. Here’s why:

The first thing to understand is that the subsidies language in the ACA was a standard “spoils” move, made with an eye toward helping Democrats win elections.

In states which established insurance exchanges under the law (in other words, states run by Democrats), low-income voters would receive federal subsidies to purchase health coverage. In states which didn’t do so (in other words, states run by Republicans), they wouldn’t. This would shore up support for the Democrats in their own states. If it hurt them at all, it would only hurt them in states that were already Republican anyway. And maybe not even there (Republicans would get some blame for denying the subsidies to their constituents).

Crass vote-buying? Yes. The executive branch took the edge off any potential red-state damage to Democrats by going ahead and delivering the subsidies even though the law didn’t allow them, knowing that Republicans would complain and make themselves the bad guys in the eyes of low-income voters in their own states. Which they promptly proceeded to do.

At the Supreme Court level, the Democrats won coming and going. A ruling against the subsidies would be blamed on the Republicans; a ruling for the subsidies was an affirmation for a Democratic president.

The second thing to understand is that the Republicans don’t make political hay on ObamaCare by actually repealing it or even significantly damaging it, but by COMPLAINING about it. They dodged a bullet with King v. Burwell. The court’s ruling allows them to keep complaining about it for political benefit in 2016, instead of facing down mobs of pitchfork-carrying, formerly Republican low-income voters in their own states who lost subsidies.

The third and final thing to understand is that the Republicans will never repeal the ACA. Heck, it was their idea in the first place! Republican president Richard Nixon suggested its core principal, the “individual mandate,” in 1973. A Republican congressman (Newt Gingrich) and a Republican think tank (the Heritage Foundation) suggested it again in 1993. Republican governor Mitt Romney implemented it in Massachusetts in 2007.

The only thing Republican politicians don’t like about ObamaCare is that it has a Democrat’s name on it. Which makes sense, since it’s a giant corporate welfare program of the kind politicians of both major parties love, thinly and unconvincingly disguised as “health care reform.”

It is, in other words, the practical application of HL Mencken’s dictum: “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.”

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.