August 20, 2014
Tennesse’s recent ruling against marriage equality leaned on several tired and irrational arguments. The judge, Russell Simmons, claimed that marriage is only for procreating, and that same-sex unions need not be included in a definition of “marriage.” There is nothing new here, but what makes Simmons’ decision more challenging is its reassessment of “animus,” an idea that has helped other judges rule in favor of marriage equality.
Selective interpretations of the term try to avoid connecting it with hatred, and instead make use of segregating tactics: we don’t hate you, we just want you to stay away from us and our definition of marriage. Who, exactly, is persuaded by this is unclear, but in today’s Link, Garrett Epps not only discusses the recent judicial landscape regarding marriage equality, but also the dangers of using hostile rhetoric on both sides of the issue.
“Gay marriage has been on a roll. That roll is likely to continue, Simmons’s decision notwithstanding. But hubris is a mortal danger to any movement, and gay-marriage activists must avoid premature triumphalism. Assaulting opponents as “bigots” is poor strategy. Many of them, like Simmons, are simply confused and a bit afraid. Asking the Supreme Court, and in particular Kennedy, to brand them all as evil may backfire.”
posted by Corbin Lambeth