The Supreme Court will have the final say on marriage equality, probably in the upcoming term. So it’s not the end of the world that a judge in Louisiana has issued the first federal court ruling upholding a state ban on marriage. What is noteworthy about Judge Martin Leach-Cross Feldman’s decision is just how baldly homophobic it is. Not as perversely eloquent as Antonin Scalia, Feldman nonetheless uses his opinion to parade a series of outdated and offensive arguments to justify what looks a lot like a pre-ordained decision.
Feldman basically says that the plaintiffs in the case have no case, have no legitimate argument and haven’t had any rights violated. As for all of the other federal courts that have ruled otherwise, Feldman essentially says that he doesn’t care. The rulings that he cites to justify his decision are not the pro-marriage rulings but the dissents, most notably in the Virginia marriage ruling.
Feldman relies upon the rhetoric sneer to diminish the argument for gay marriage. Here are five worst examples from his opinion.
Marriage equality paves the way for incest. “And so, inconvenient questions persist. For example, must states permit or recognize a marriage between an aunt and niece? Aunt and nephew? Brother/brother? Father and child? May minors marry? Must marriage be limited to only two people? What about a transgender spouse? Is such a union same-gender or male-female?”
It’s all about the babies. “This Court is persuaded that Louisiana has a legitimate interest…whether obsolete in the opinion of some, or not, in the opinion of others…in linking children to an intact family formed by their two biological parents.”
Unspecified bad things may happen. “This Court is powerless to be indifferent to the unknown and possibly imprudent consequences of such a decision.”
Voters should have the say on your rights. “It is not for this Court to resolve the wisdom of same-sex marriage. The nation is witness to a strong conversation about what is marriage. The central question that must first be asked, is what is the fairest forum for the answer? A new right may or may not be affirmed by the democratic process.”
I’m the last bulwark against the end of civilization. “Perhaps, in the wake of today’s blurry notion of evolving understanding, the result is ordained. Perhaps in a new established point of view, marriage will be reduced to contract law, and, by contract, anyone will be able to claim marrige. Perhaps that is the next frontier, the next phase of some “evolving understanding of equality,” what what is marriage will be explored.”
Perhaps none of this language is surprising when you consider that Feldman, a Reagan appointee, is 80 years old and began his law career in 1957. Too bad his thinking hasn’t advanced much since then.
Photo credit: Office of Judge Feldman