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The Story of Same-Sex Marriage, as Told by the Victors

Discussion in 'One Bread, One Body - Catholic' started by Michie, Jun 25, 2021.

  1. Michie

    Michie Human rights begin in the womb. Supporter

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    Two new books approvingly chart the legal and cultural path to Obergefell v. Hodges. What can the losing side learn about battles lost, and battles still to come?


    I was sitting in an airport when the United States Supreme Court announced its decision, six years ago, in Obergefell v. Hodges.

    As I watched on an elevated television screen and obsessively refreshed various websites, the court legalized same-sex marriage across the country. In a lengthy majority opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy stressed that states denying marriage licenses to same-sex couples violated the 14th Amendment. “The Court now holds that same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry,” Kennedy wrote. “No longer may this liberty be denied to them.”

    Each dissenting justice wrote a separate opinion, emphasizing the pitfalls of judicial activism, the importance of legislative democracy, and the danger of the decision to religious freedom. Justice Antonin Scalia even compared the majority’s arguments and conclusions to “the mystical aphorisms of the fortune cookie.” Still, by a 5–4 vote the court held state prohibitions on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. Same-sex couples were free to marry throughout the United States.

    It was a remarkable moment, one that was, according to the authors of two new books, decades in the making. In Marriage Equality: From Outlaws to In-Laws, legal scholars William Eskridge and Christopher Riano trace the history of the same-sex marriage movement in the United States, beginning in the 1970s and culminating with Obergefell some 40 years later. And in The Engagement: America’s Quarter-Century Struggle Over Same-Sex Marriage, journalist Sasha Issenberg covers the strategies and tensions motivating rival groups of political, legal, and social activists.

    These are thorough, all-encompassing books, a combined 1,800 pages of history, footnotes, and additional sources on the development of same-sex marriage in American society. But in addition to providing rich legal and political history, both books offer an important record of the ways in which pro-LGBT activists and social conservatives—particularly conservative Christians—approached this battlefield. Readers catch a glimpse of the then-developing Christian legal movement (CLM) in these accounts, seeing how actors in this movement opposed same-sex marriage as a threat to the traditional family and, importantly, religious freedom.

    Continued below.
    The Story of Same-Sex Marriage, as Told by the Victors
     
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