Let's Be Honest

Did The Supreme Court Arguments On DOMA Finally Make It Okay To Call Opponents Of Same-Sex Marriage Bigots?

Up to now, in the more civilized circles of debate, folks have carefully avoided calling opponents of same-sex marriage bigots. (The other side hasn’t been quite so circumspect.)

But after the arguments at the Supreme Court yesterday, it’s hard to imagine how else to characterize opposition to marriage equality. It’s pretty clear that this has been a fig leaf all along, and now that momentum is on the side of equality, the leaf is about to fall.

The killer moment came when Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan (you know, the one that’s not a lesbian) nailed Paul Clement, who argued on behalf of House Republicans to uphold the law. Clement was droning on about the wondrous merits of DOMA to make sure we kept our laws all neat and tidy when Kagan issued a harsh reality check.

“Well, is what happened in 1996—and I’m going to quote from the House Report here—is that ‘Congress decided … to express moral disapproval of homosexuality,’” Kagan asked.  Clement was at a loss for words for a moment, and then came out with this defense: “Look, we are not going to strike down a statute just because a couple of legislators may have had an improper motive.”

And there you have it. Opponents of marriage equality have run out of excuses. DOMA was conceived in homophobia, which even by its defender’s admission, is wrong. So what’s left? Do people really oppose marriage equality because they are concerned about 1,100 federal statutes being out of whack with what states want to do?  Or is it because marriage equality means expressing moral approval and they can’t bring themselves to do that?

True, a lot of folks may just react reflexively to marriage equality. But that doesn’t make their opposition any less prejudiced. At some point, it’s fair to call it as we see it. That doesn’t mean branding people, but educating them.

But if you can’t point out their bigotry to them, can you ever educate them in how to get rid of it?


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  • Alex

    You forgot to mention that at one point during the argument, Chief Justice Roberts actually asked if it was safe to say that everybody who signed DOMA should be considered a BIGOT, he actually used that same word lol this is astounding

  • Derek Williams

    My prediction:
    1. DOMA repealed
    2. Prop 8 proponents sent packing back to CA, thus reinstating SSM there and leaving it up to the other states to follow suit in their own sweet time

    Reason: the justices’ line of questioning leads to the conclusion they believe marriage is the prerogative of the states, and DOMA interferes with that right, whereas Prop 8 has nothing to do with SCOTUS.

  • Taliaferro

    A bigot is a bigot and hiding behind some outdated version of “morality” does not change the fact. “Look, we are not going to strike down a statute just because a couple of legislators may have had an improper motive.” It was not a couple of people, it was the United States Congress and those who voted for DOMA must stand by their decision or recant – and repent. This was an incredibly ill-conceived act and now, finally, it may be repealed. By all means, let’s call its supporters what they are – bigots!

  • dkmagby

    @Derek Williams:

    I agree with your prediction. There isn’t enough support on the bench of SCOTUS to try to argue it as a violation of civil rights and the 14th amendment.

    Perhaps one day.

  • kurt_t

    Here’s a little gem from the comments section at Town Hall…

    The only hate is coming from you, sodomite.

    God said nothing about loving perversion.

    Yeah, I think I would call that bigotry.

    With perhaps some overtones of full on poo flinging crazy.

  • kurt_t

    Oh crap. The part that I’m quoting is

    “The only hate is coming from you, sodomite.
    God said nothing about loving perversion.”

    The Almighty apparently also has a problem with block quotes.

    The quotation is from user TeaParty, who was commenting on the Michael Reagan column “Churches: Time to Fight Back!”

  • Cam

    It’s been ok to call them that for years. It was only the folks at HRC and others inside the beltway that seem to shiver with fear that pointing out that these folks were bigots might upset them.

  • Dresden

    I must not have ever been included in whatever civilized circle of which this article references… I’ve always called them what they are. Those leaves have rotted off the stems of civil discourse long ago.

  • MickeyP.

    A bigot by any other name..is still a bigot!

  • Elloreigh

    @Alex: Roberts question was rhetorical though.

    My prediction:

    – Prop 8 upheld
    – DOMA Section 3 struck as unconstitutional
    – No sweeping decisions that give us marriage equality nationwide

    There was a LOT of discusson of federalism during the DOMA oral arguments. The court is looking for a way to avoid having to qualify gay people as a suspect class. To do so would have implications for the 30 state voter-enacted, marriage-banning amendments. The court looks at that legal situation as the concrete manifestation of public opinion on the issue; they aren’t going to rely on more recent polls for guidance. That being the case, they will refrain from sticking their necks in the noose through any kind of sweeping ruling.

    And, if they use federalism as the means to strike DOMA, they aren’t going to turn around and apply a different standard to the Prop 8 case. So predict Prop 8 will be upheld, but it will probably be a 5-4 vote.

    Kennedy, while he acknowledged the harm to children of same-sex couples denied marriage equality, didn’t seem persuaded that enough time had passed for sociologist to collect a body of persuasive data on what the long-term effects on society from recognizing same-sex couples might be. So he will be the 5th vote to uphold Prop 8, siding with Thomas, Scalia, Alito, and Roberts.

    There is the possibility that they could dismiss the Prop 8 case for proponents’ lack of standing, which means it would revert to the District Court ruling; that would restore same-sex marriage to California. I’m just not convinced that they will want to be seen as overuling the voters by using a technicality as the means.

    Predicting what the court will do is never a sure thing. They could surprise us all. I just don’t think people should get their hopes up. It’s more likely that we’re in for a long battle of trying to repeal state amenmdents one-by-one.

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