The Supreme Court’s non-decision about marriage equality guarantees it’s a done deal. But it also means that we’re in a long round of federal and state court decisions about marriage.
Judging from the ruling striking down marriage bans in Nevada and Idaho, this will be a lot of fun.
We’ve now reached the point where federal judges not only discount the flimsy arguments against marriage equality, but openly make fun of them. In his ruling, Federal Judge Stephen Reinhardt can’t help but twist the knife a little as he basically tells Idaho Gov. Butch Otter (yes, that’s his name) that his defense of traditional marriage is laughable.
Otter and the Coalition for the Protection of Marriage, which compared marriage equality to white supremacy, were the only defenders of the law after Nevada officials refused to defend that state’s ban. The governor and the group advanced the usual arguments: save the children, it’s all about procreation, marriage has always been like this.
Reinhardt was, to put it bluntly, unimpressed. At various points, he describes Otter’s arguments as “crass and callous” and “off the rails.” But it’s in a footnote that he really unloads on Otter:
“[Gov. Otter] also states, in conclusory fashion, that allowing same-sex marriage will lead opposite-sex couples to abuse alcohol and drugs, engage in extra marital affairs, take on demanding work schedules, and participate in time-consuming hobbies. We seriously doubt that allowing committed same-sex couples to settle down in legally recognized marriages will drive opposite-sex couples to sex, drugs,and rock-and-roll.”
Reinhardt, a Carter appointee, is well known as one of the most liberal judges on the bench. He wrote the majority opinion upholding Judge Vaughn Walker’s dismissal of Proposition 8. Early in the year, he issued a groundbreaking ruling involving a gay juror being excused from a case involving an HIV drug. Reinhardt made it clear that he felt LGBT cases deserved “heightened scrutiny,” just one step below the highest the court could apply.
Not every judge is Reinhardt, but with cases now pending in all the remaining states where marriage is outlawed, there are bound to be some other fun rulings in the future. As for the anti-marriage forces–when you become a laughing stock in federal court, time to admit the jig is up.