Antonin Scalia spent the last twenty years working to prevent LGBTs from achieving equal protection under the law. And now, well, he isn’t.
Reaction to his death has ranged from outright glee to muted relief (and, of course, in conservative circles, immense sorrow). There’s a lengthy discussion of Scalia’s impact on this week’s Defining Marriage podcast, ending in a comparison to clowns.
It’s tempting to dance for joy — not at the death of a man and at the loved ones who will truly miss him, but at the thought that we are now less likely to have a Supreme Court majority take away our our hard earned equality or blocking further efforts to that affect.
There are those calling for respectful remembrance. That’s nice, but if we’re talking about memory, let’s just remember that this was a guy who treated with contempt the notion that we are protected by the constitution as everyone else takes for granted.
Yes, there are Five Reasons We Will Miss Antonin Scalia (Really).
But take a look at some of his worst quotes, and then just try to muster up any feelings of fondness.
1. “Homosexual sodomy? Come on. For 200 years, it was criminal in every state.”
Come on indeed. Scalia was a champion of “well, it’s always been this way, so I guess it must be a good idea.” Lucky thing he wasn’t on the court when it struck down bans on interracial marriage in Loving v. Virginia.
2. Homosexuality is comparable to “murder, for example, or polygamy, or cruelty to animals.”
Scalia was responding to a mid-90s case in which Colorado voters enacted a law to make it easier to discriminate. Defending the move, Scalia said that the law isn’t different from laws against murder and animal cruelty, since they all involve moral disapproval. Sometimes it’s hard to understand how this guy even wound up on the bench — surely Scalia didn’t really believe that moral disapproval is the sole basis for banning murder, did he? Did he really not see that animal cruelty is a crime with victims, unlike, you know, being gay?
3. “If we cannot have moral feelings against homosexuality, can we have it against murder? Can we have it against other things?”
Okay, well, apparently he really did believe that morality was the only reason to object to murder, and that homosexuality belonged in the same category. Good lord. To make matters worse, Scalia said this to a gay kid who was asking him questions about how laws work.
4. the ‘life partner’ of a homosexual” is equivalent to “the long time roommate of a non-homosexual.”
First of all, why the scare quotes around “life partner”? Scalia really couldn’t stomach the idea that we might want to spend our lives together. He saw us as nothing more than roommates, cohabitators, in no way capable of loving each other as nobly as those heterosexuals with their perfect marriages and zero divorce rate.
5. Being gay is like “prostitution, recreational use of heroin, and, for that matter, working more than 60 hours per week in a bakery.”
Scalia failed to see the distinction between falling in love and injecting drugs. What a romantic. This quote came from Lawrence v. Texas, the case that stopped states from arresting gays simply for having sex in private. We can debate the social consequences of criminalizing sex work, but it’s hard to make a case that recreational heroin or sweatshops are anything but bad for society.
6. “Many Americans do not want persons who openly engage in homosexual conduct as partners in their business, as scoutmasters for their children, as teachers in their children’s schools, or as boarders in their home.”
He really laid his bigotry out on the table here. Replace “homosexual” with “Jewish” or “African American” and the quote becomes even more horrifying. It’s hard to believe we’re talking about someone who lived in this century.
7. If we legalize homosexuality, we’ll have to legalize “bigamy, same-sex marriage, adult incest, prostitution, masturbation, adultery, fornication, bestiality, and obscenity.”
Uhhhh this is a weird one. It comes from the Lawrence decision and is kind of correct, although he probably didn’t mean for us to read it and say “hooray.” Scalia accurately predicted that if “morality” isn’t sufficient justification for laws, we’ll have to overturn all kinds of discriminatory, unfair prohibitions. Of course masturbation is–should be–legal. Of course “fornication” should be legal. Some of those other crimes — bestiality, for example — fall into a different category, since there are victims and consent is impossible. And then sex work falls into a grey area where we all know it should be legal but the country’s still grappling with the remnants of its puritan past.
8. “What minorities deserve protection? What? It’s up to me to identify deserving minorities? What about pederasts? What about child abusers? This is a deserving minority. Nobody loves them.”
A few months before he left this world, Scalia gave a burbling speech at Georgetown in which he attacked the very idea of protecting disenfranchised minorities. He died believing that American is and always has been an infinitely fair country, where everyone gets an even chance, and if someone is downtrodden it must be their fault.
9. Paul Scalia: “At some point adults have to admit that a fifteen-year-old who claims to be ‘a questioning transgendered bisexual’ is really just confused.”
This one’s a bonus: Antonin’s son, Paul, is heavily involved with a group called Courage that inflicts sexual orientation abuse on kids. Just areminder that even though the father may be gone, the son carries on the toxic tradition.