Opinion

Same-sex decision must stand

There’s a campaign to overturn the legality of same-sex marriage. It’s not run by a political or religious group with objections to the law.

Two justices of the United States Supreme Court recently issued a statement attacking the ruling in Obergefell vs. Hodges, made in 2015, by the court of which they are members.

The behavior of justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito is unseemly, given that cases stemming from the ruling will come before them again. Justices shouldn’t be commenting publicly on cases they might be called upon to decide.

What’s more, the ruling legalizing same-sex marriage was the correct decision. That ruling must stand. Same-sex couples have a right to pursue their happiness and have legal protections for their relationships. And rulings that followed, outlawing job discrimination based on sexual orientation, must also stand.

Reversing Obergefell within just a few years would go against the very conservative principles of jurisprudence the two justices avow.

Gutting that decision would cause chaos and heartbreak for millions of people — same-sex married couples and their families and friends. Chaos in the legal system would follow.

The Census Bureau in 2019 estimated more than a half million same-sex marriages have occurred in the United States. There’s strong support for the right to same-sex marriage in the American population as well. A June Gallup poll found 67 percent of respondents favored the legality of same-sex marriage.

Following precedent is important in judicial decisions — rulings are made in accord with previous decisions. The finality of court rulings provides stability in the legal system and society.

That’s not to say there are not moments when the law should change. Those changes almost exclusively have expanded and protected the rights of Americans, not constricted those rights. And that is as it should be — society changes and momentous reversals are sometimes called for in the law. Such changes were the rulings in Brown vs. Board of Education, which outlawed racial segregation in public schools and the Gideon decision, which established a right to counsel in criminal cases.

Those decisions were correct, and Obergefell is correct.

The campaign of sorts by the two justices needs to stop. Their statement brings dishonor to the court and tarnishes the reputation of the judicial system.

The right to same-sex marriage is now established law. Established laws must not be suddenly changed. Obergefell was the right call in 2015 and should remain the law of the land.

– THE TOLEDO BLADE

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