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Bill Straub: After the deep-sixing of Roe v. Wade, are same-sex marriages next to go? Marching backwards

The sun has continued to rise in the east and set in the west since June 26, 2015. House sparrows still chirp away in the backyard. “The Simpsons” remains on television. God still makes little, green apples. The earth has maintained its orbit.

A lot has gone wrong in this nation of ours since June 26, 2015, but none of it can be attributed to the historic event of the day when the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, in a case styled Obergefell v Hodges, opened the door to same-sex marriage.

Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy, who has since left the high court, declared, “As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”

Opponents of the decision insisted the obviously controversial issue should be left to the nation’s elected representatives to decide, not the nine-member Supreme Court. They further predicted the most devastating of results, none of which have come to pass.

The NKyTribune’s Washington columnist Bill Straub served 11 years as the Frankfort Bureau chief for The Kentucky Post. He also is the former White House/political correspondent for Scripps Howard News Service. A member of the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame, he currently resides in Silver Spring, Maryland, and writes frequently about the federal government and politics. Email him at williamgstraub@gmail.com

Stated simply, Obergefell has proved beneficial to literally thousands of Americans and harmed no one. There isn’t a person alive who can honestly claim he or she has been negatively impacted by two guys getting hitched, with the exception, of course, where said marriage winds up in divorce court, another matter altogether.

Yet now those currently engaged in same-sex marriages, and those who hope to follow suit sometime in the future, feel threatened by a newly-empaneled Supreme Court that could care less about precedent and exhibited a knack for dismissing what once was considered a constitutional right. The court’s recent decision overturning Roe v. Wade, which for about 50 years had made abortion a constitutional right, has made LGBTQ folks understandably nervous about their status in America.

The court majority, in telling those seeking an abortion – like the 10-year-old rape victim forced to journey to Indiana from her native Ohio where the procedure would be illegal – to go pound sand. They insisted that other rights under the 14th Amendment remained secure. But Justice Clarence Thomas, in a separate, concurring opinion, suggested otherwise and it’s difficult to trust the word of three members of the majority who are on the court after lying about their fidelity to stare decisis.

The decision to deep-six Roe led to some criticism aimed at Congress for failing to codify the substance of the ruling. With that in mind, the House this week passed in a 267-157 vote the Respect for Marriage Act, which repealed the Defense of Marriage Act that defined wedded bliss as being only between a man and a woman.

It was bipartisan, with 47 of the chamber’s 204 voting Republicans showing their support. Of the 47, none came from Kentucky. The lone yes vote came from Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Louisville. Of course.

Now it’s fair to say that homophobia is not foreign to the commonwealth, or much of the country for that matter. The situation has improved, as shown by the House vote. But there’s obviously a strain that runs through the state’s GOP delegation, which, in the year if our lord 2022, is nothing less than disgusting.

These folks are elected to represent all of the residents in their districts, including the LGBTQ folks. Agreeing to legislation that offers assurance that they can tie the knot just like straight couples has no real impact on other members of the community.

It’s none of their business. And voting against the right of LBGTQ folks to marry openly displays an inclination to reduce them to second-class status, an effort to hide them somewhere behind a fig leaf, well below the standing accorded your average straight, Christian White guy. You know, a real American.

These lawmakers have made little effort to explain their irrationality to the public with one exception, Rep. Andy Barr, R-Lexington, whose explanation is, seriously, so unctuous it needs to be handled with a pair of radiation-proof gloves.

According to our boy Andy, quoted in the Lexington Herald-Leader, the Respect for Marriage Act is “a gratuitous and politically-motivated measure” that is “less about codifying same-sex marriage and more about expressing scorn and intolerance for people of faith who have a sincerely held religious belief in favor of traditional marriage.”

Barr, as usual, is so full of horse manure it’s coming out his ears. The measure is about human rights and has nothing to do with religion. Bringing religion into the discussion, where it doesn’t belong, is cheap hokum of the sort our boy Andy is becoming increasingly familiar with.

The text of the bill, it’s only a single page, makes no mention of religious beliefs. It scorns and expresses intolerance toward no one. Just the opposite. It simply states no person acting under color of state law may deny “full faith and credit to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other State pertaining to a marriage between 2 individuals, on the basis of the sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin of those

Marriage is not just a religious act. It’s open to all faiths and creeds, including non believers and those who worship the man in the moon. Any couple, not just the religiously inclined, can venture over to the county courthouse, get the paperwork in order, promise to love and honor one another, and be declared husband and wife, or husband and husband, or wife and wife, or partners or spouses or whatever is called for.

Support for same-sex marriage is overwhelmingly popular. A 2021 survey by the Public Relations Research Institute found that 68 percent of those questioned support the right. Still, if Obergefell is ever overturned, same-sex marriage would be prohibited in at least 25 states, according to the Poynter Institute.

The marriage can be conducted in a church by a priest or a minister, in a temple by a rabbi, a mosque by an imam, It can be done sans religion in a courtroom, a backyard, a strip club or just about any place of the couple’s choosing.

Suggesting same-sex marriage is an afront to “people of faith who have a sincerely held religious belief in favor of traditional marriage” is, well, stupid. First of all, many members of the faithful aren’t necessarily ill-disposed to same-sex marriage.

No one is requiring a member of a Pentecostal church to get married to a person of the same sex. Churches that don’t consider it a good idea aren’t required to perform a wedding ceremony for same sex couples. You could even continue if so inclined to hate gay people. You would be a revolting bigot but there’s nothing in the Respect for Marriage Act to stop you.

Barr can be credited, to a limited degree, for letting his ignorance show. The others, Rep. James Comer, R-Tompkinsville, or Frankfort, or DC, or somewhere, Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Somerset, Rep. Brett Guthrie, R-Bowling Green, and Rep.Thomas Massie, R SomewhereorotherLewisCounty, have kept their lights under a blanket. None have been a terrific advocate for human rights. Why should they start now? Massie, the celebrated Libertarian, is, as usual the biggest hypocrite of them all.

Don’t be surprised, by the way, if Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, of Louisville, winds up supporting the bill when it comes to the upper chamber. His close confidant, the late U.S. District Judge John Heyburn, found in favor of same-sex marriage in a Kentucky case before the Supreme Court ruled. A vote for would show support for an old friend who he helped get on the bench.

And in a coda, this same bunch joined just about every Republican in opposing a bill on Thursday that would codify the Griswold v. Connecticut decision, rendered 57 years ago, which assured the right to contraceptives. All GOP members of the Kentucky delegation voted against it.

Marching backwards, folks. Marching Backwards.

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