A pair of Orange County law professors believe the timing of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage that coincided with the high court’s decision on Proposition 8 exactly two years ago to the day was no coincidence.
Chapman University law school professor John Eastman and UC Irvine political science professor Charles Anthony Smith told City News Service they think the court intended to put the ruling out on the anniversary of the Prop. 8 decision.
Eastman, a same-sex marriage opponent active with the National Organization for Marriage, noted Friday that copies of the ruling and dissents were not bound as usual, “so they rushed to get it out today.”
Eastman and Smith also noted that a ruling striking down Texas’ law against sodomy was issued on this date in 2003.
“For all three of these to come out on the same day — the odds are astronomical,” Smith said.
Smith also noted that it was rare for the high court to issue rulings on a Friday.
The timing of the ruling, however, was about all Smith and Eastman agreed on about the decision.
Eastman argued same-sex marriage will harm the country, saying families with biological parents have better results than adoptive parents. He said that harm will reverse the political tide, which has trended toward support for same-sex unions.
“When you remove the biological kinship from the family the rates of delinquency and developmental issues more than double,” Eastman said. “That’s no matter how caring and loving the non-biological parents are.”
And that is true for gay and straight couples, Eastman said.
Eastman also argued that conservatives could try to chip away at the law the same way they did regarding Roe v. Wade on abortion rights. Stacking the U.S. Supreme Court with opponents of gay marriage could work in time when public sentiment swings back toward opposition of same-sex unions, Eastman said.
Smith, who co-authored a study published in April measuring potential backlash from court rulings on gay rights issues, said the issue of same-sex marriage will quickly become as accepted as interracial marriage is today.
Instead of a backlash, Smith and his fellow researchers found that court rulings favoring gay rights issues actually build public support.
“You’re going to see over time an absence of acceptability of demonizing gay people in political discourse,” Smith said. “You’re going to see a drop in teen suicides, and stable families raising children (in a same-sex marriage) will be a sea change for the very young people and people not yet born in our culture … much the same way people wouldn’t even blink an eye at interracial marriage anymore.”
For Smith, Friday’s ruling takes away the fear of traveling he and his husband had when going to states that did not recognize same-sex marriage licenses.
“A nice thing this does it removes a barrier from going from one state to another for career or tourism purposes,” Smith said. “We haven’t been to Louisiana because of their onerous laws.”
If either he or his husband got hurt during a trip to a state that banned same-sex unions they might have hospital visits restricted, for example, Smith said.
Smith and his husband got married in 2003 because they feared voters would approve Proposition 8.
UC Irvine Law School Dean Erwin Chemerinsky said he thinks the timing of the ruling was happenstance, and not related to other Supreme Court decisions on same-sex issues.
“I suspect this is driven by the clerks and that the justices themselves are not cognizant of this sort of thing,” Smith said. “I suspect the law clerks were more aware of the importance of the date than the justices.”
Chemerinsky, a frequent foil for Eastman at public debates on various issues, disagreed with his assertion that children of same-sex couples are more likely to tend toward delinquency or developmental issues.
“There’s no evidence of that,” he said. “People who have adopted children take great offense at that argument. Why shouldn’t children of same-sex parents benefit from having their parents marry just as much as opposite-sex parents? … If you believe marriage creates stability, then why shouldn’t same-sex families have that same benefit?”
Chemerinsky and Smith doubted that the public sentiment would shift back toward opposition to same-sex marriage because it does not stoke the same passions as abortion rights does.
“The reality is nobody is getting hurt” by same-sex marriage, Chemerinsky said.
Smith had a quip for conservatives who claim they’re ready to leave the country over the issue.
“Some individuals are so upset about this ruling that they’re threatening they’re going to move to Canada, which has had same-sex marriage since 2005 and nothing bad has happened,” Smith said.
— City News Service