The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing arguments for same-sex marriage now and Ruth Bader Ginsburg has long been a liberal champion for her dissent from the court’s increasingly conservative consensus. But what was striking yesterday was how her willingness to place it along the civil rights continuum allowed her to cut through the argument in a way even the court’s conservative firebrands struggled to do:
“Marriage today is not what it was under the common law tradition, under the civil law tradition. Marriage was a relationship of a dominant male to a subordinate female. That ended as a result of this court’s decision in 1982 when Louisiana’s Head and Master Rule was struck down … Would that be a choice that state should [still] be allowed to have? To cling to marriage the way it once was?”
John Bursch, the somewhat chastised lawyer for the states who are seeking to preserve their ban on gay marriage, replied:
Then the 82-year-old Ginsburg said, after a protracted debate over whether it was fair to ask couples if they wanted children before allowing them to wed…
“Suppose a couple, 70-year-old couple, comes in and they want to get married? You don’t have to ask them any questions. You know they are not going to have any children.
All of the incentives, all of the benefits that marriage affords would still be available. So you’re not taking away anything from heterosexual couples. They would have the very same incentive to marry, all the benefits that come with marriage that they do now.”
“The change in people’s attitudes on that issue has been enormous. In recent years, people have said, ‘This is the way I am.’ And others looked around, and we discovered it’s our next-door neighbor — we’re very fond of them. Or it’s our child’s best friend, or even our child. I think that as more and more people came out and said that ‘this is who I am,’ the rest of us recognized that they are one of us.”
We will have to wait until June to see if Ginsburg’s logic has swayed anyone else on the court. (via The Guardian)