SCOTUS gay marriage repeal? The public chimes in

By Lee Cleveland, Polls and Trends - October 30, 2020

The rushed appointment of Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court this week has some asking about the future of gay rights.

Conservatives now have a 6-3 advantage and LGBTQ advocates worry they will start chipping away at gay rights, specifically same-sex marriage.

Why?

Amy Coney Barrett.

While conservatives had long held a 5-4 advantage, Chief Justice John Roberts, a moderate conservative appointed by President George W. Bush who is often considered the fairest, sometimes sides with the liberal wing of the Court and hasn’t been the most reliable conservative. But, with Barrett’s recent appointment, Roberts’ vote would not be enough to successfully fend off the wishes of his five right wing colleagues.

Barrett — a staunch conservative Roman Catholic — is believed to be adamantly against same-sex marriage, which was legalized nationwide by the Supreme Court’s landmark Obergefell v. Hodges ruling in 2015.

Those who oppose gay marriage follow the perceived biblical view of matrimony – one man with one woman. Of course, critics of that notion site Separation of Church and State, insisting determining what is right and wrong should be philosophical and based on consensus ethics instead of perceived concepts offered by a religious faith.

Rachel Laser, CEO of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, insists the new justice’s record on church-state separation “deeply problematic.”

“She has shown that she would allow claims of religious freedom to be misused to harm women, LGBTQ people, religious minorities and the nonreligious, among many others,” Laser said in a statement via NBC News.

So, what does the American public think about gay rights and same-sex marriage?

Americans support gay rights

Unlike politicians’ decisions, the Supreme Court’s verdicts aren’t tied to the collective will of the people.  Hence, justices are in their positions for life and aren’t concerned with winning popularity contests.

… But, most have a set pattern of partisan beliefs and will try to use the Constitution and previous rulings to support their views when and if possible. Therefore, it’s important to recognize the American public supports equal rights for the LGBTQ community even if SCOTUS tries to turn back the clock.

According to new data from a Public Religion Research Institute national poll, 70 percent of Americans favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally, compared to only 28 percent who oppose it.

And to no surprise, 80 and 76 percent of Democrats and independents, respectively, support same-sex marriage while just half (50%) of Republicans approve.

White evangelical Protestants are the only major religious group in which a majority opposes allowing same-sex marriage (34% favor, 63% oppose).

Majorities in every other major religious group support marriage equality, including 90% of religiously unaffiliated Americans, 79% of white mainline Protestants, 78% of Hispanic Catholics, 72% of members of non-Christian religious groups, 68% of Hispanic Protestants, 67% of white Catholics, 57% of Black Protestants, and 56% of members of other Christian religious groups.

So, will Americans’ views on gay rights fall completely on deaf ears?

Not totally.

Thus, at least one justice, perhaps acknowledging public sentiment, seems to want to give each state the right to decide its own same-sex marriage laws. And while such a move wouldn’t mark the end of gay marriage in the U.S., it would certainly be a big step backward for the LGBTQ community.

“It would be one thing if recognition for same-sex marriage had been debated and adopted through the democratic process, with the people deciding not to provide statutory protections for religious liberty under state law, “ said Justice Clarence Thomas on October 6.

“But it is quite another when the court forces that choice upon society through its creation of atextual constitutional rights and its ungenerous interpretation of the Free Exercise Clause, leaving those with religious objections in the lurch.”

And even if the Court left Obergefell in tact, they could still rule that the decision does not necessarily require equal treatment for same-sex couples.

With the recent addition of Justice Barrett, will the Supreme Court seek to reduce gay rights?

Tags: Amy Coney Barrett, gay rights, same-sex marriage, U.S. Supreme Court

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