Well, the inevitable has happened; the Supreme Court of the United States in a sharply divided decision ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that same sex couples have an intrinsic right to marry, bringing an end to a decades-old debate. On one side of the debate sat gay and lesbian couples and they who supported their relationships. On the other side sat they who opposed same sex marriage along sectarian lines. This letter is addressed to the latter group from a straight ungodly heathen.
I feel for you. I really do. Losing a battle you feel so passionately about is frustrating, to say the least. I’ve been there. SCOTUS tends to make some decisions I agree with and many that I don’t. I take the good with the bad because—although this system isn’t perfect—it’s the best system we have. I tend to avoid—as best I can—throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
If it makes you feel any better, try looking at it as a glass-is-half-full kind of thing. Remember last year when explicitly religious speech defeated secularism at 1 First St NE? Greece v. Galloway was a major victory for Jesus, solidifying your right to invoke Christ in public prayer at town hall meetings. Thirty years ago the Court also decided in Marsh v. Chambers (1983) that the state can hire a chaplain to lead religious prayer at state meetings. Although Greece partially overruled Marsh, the Marsh decision is still in effect as long as the town hall does not discriminate against non-Christian clergy or speech.
The majority opinion in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby—too—upheld religious exemptions under the Affordable Care Act, meaning private, for profit organizations are not required to provide contraceptives to their employees if doing so would violate the owners’ religious beliefs.
And Muslims out there can rejoice too. This term’s EEOC v. Abercrombie and Fitch dismantled some of the systemic discrimination Muslim women face when applying for a job while wearing a hijab or some other head covering. Similarly this year in Holt v. Hobbs, the court ruled that prisons cannot prevent a Muslim inmate from growing a beard according to his faith.
The Court consistently upholds religious freedom. Whenever your rights to religious liberty are threatened, the Court will be on your side, practically 100% of the time. Of course, I hope you’re aware that today’s decision had nothing to do with religious liberty. You didn’t lose today. Instead, the outcome merely challenges your beliefs.
If I can accept when the Court challenges my beliefs, then I hope you can accept this decision as well. Who knows? This time next year you might be celebrating another religious freedom victory while I’m over here huffing and puffing because I vehemently disagree with the Court’s decision in this future case.
Take the bad with the good and the good with the bad. Like I said, it might not be a perfect system, but it’s the only system we have.