How Obergefell is Roe v. Wade redux
July 17, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- When considering the U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision (Obergefell v. Hodges, 2015) legitimizing gay marriage, one is struck by its many parallels with its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. Some of these are given below.
In both cases, the Court appeared to ignore the central issue which should have been before it. In Roe v. Wade, it was: when does the life of an individual human life begin, and should it be protected? Avoiding the scientific evidence, the Court dismissed this issue, saying, “We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins.” Instead, it focused on the woman’s “right to privacy” which it could not explicitly find in the Constitution, but which it declared to be “broad enough to cover the abortion decision.”1 As a result, the lives of over 58 million human beings have been ended by abortion since January 1973.
In Obergefell v. Hodges, the central issue should have been: what is the essential nature of marriage, and what consequences result if we redefine it? Instead, the Court focused on a “right to personal choice” flowing from “individual autonomy” and “the right to privacy,” and concluded that two persons of the same sex have a Constitutional right to marry.2 It declared the right to marry “a fundamental right inherent in the liberty of the person” and noted that our marriage laws are evolving.
Furthermore, the Court ignored the negative health consequences of gay lifestyles and quoted an earlier decision regarding gays which declared that the State “cannot demean their existence or control their destiny by making their private sexual conduct a crime.”3 Having done so, the Court may soon see claims of discrimination and demands for “marriage equality” from persons whose sexual preferences include multiple partners or close relatives.
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In Roe v. Wade the Supreme Court declared abortion, a fatal (the unborn) and unsafe (the mother) practice long considered a crime, a fundamental right. In its gay marriage ruling it gave its legal blessing to another unsafe practice long considered a crime (sodomy). In the latter ruling the Court ignored the fact that different persons may legitimately be treated differently by the law. Although blind persons are full citizens, we do not issue them drivers’ licenses, since this would be dangerous for themselves and others. Two men or two women together are different from a man and a woman together, and thus may also be treated differently. The Court ignored the vast amount of scientific data that show that gay lifestyles are personally unhealthy and a threat to public safety. Similarly, although the Court said it was “protecting” the right of gays to marry because it “safeguards children and families,” two comprehensive studies show children raised by gay parents do least well when compared to other family types.4
Finally, in the two cases, just 7 and 5 Justices, respectively, usurped the legislative power of the states by striking down all (abortion) or many (traditional marriage) laws dealing with these issues, imposing their own version of what the laws should be. In doing so, they also shut down the national debate, making it very difficult, if not impossible, for the people’s considered judgements to be heard, while threatening the religious liberty of millions of Americans. Just as Roe v. Wade failed to settle the abortion issue, we may expect that Obergefell v. Hodges failed to settle the issue of legitimate marriage.
Raymond J. Adamek is a retired Professor of Sociology. He has been active in the pro-life movement since 1972.
- Roe v. Wade, U.S. Supreme Court Reports, 35 L Ed 2d, 1973, pp. 181 and 176-177.
- Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S. 2015, pp. 12-13, online.
- Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S. 2015, p. 22, online.
- Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S. 2015, p. 14, online. The two studies are: Mark Regnerus, “How different are the adult children of parents who have same-sex relationships? Findings from the New Family Structures Study.” Social Science Research, 41 (2012) pp. 752-770, and D. Paul Sullins, “Emotional problems among children with same-sex parents: difference by definition,” British Journal of Education, Society & Behavioural Science, 7 (2) February, 2015 pp. 99-120.
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