I happened to be be in Ireland just after the Constitutional Referendum on Same-Sex Marriage. So it has been interesting to be in America when the Supreme Court delivered its ruling on the same issue. This was particularly important – in effect, it forces the hand of the minority of States which have not already made provision for Same-Sex Marriage.
The rulings are interesting. The majority view was expressed by Justice Anthony M Kennedy:
“Under the Constitution, same-sex couples seek in marriage the same legal treatment as opposite-sex couples, and it would disparage their choices and diminish their personhood to deny them this right,” Kennedy wrote. He was joined in the ruling by the court’s liberal justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.
The judges who dissented from the majority view each wrote a separate opinion. The common theme in their dissents was that judicial activism on the part of five members of the court had usurped a power that belongs to the people.
Justice Roberts wrote:
“If you are among the many Americans — of whatever sexual orientation — who favor expanding same-sex marriage, by all means celebrate today’s decision. Celebrate the achievement of a desired goal. Celebrate the opportunity for a new expression of commitment to a partner. Celebrate the availability of new benefits. But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it.’
It seems to me that this fits into the pattern of profound and very rapid change which we have seen in Scotland, England and Wales and in Ireland. Northern Ireland is the only part of the British Isles which has not made this change. It seems to me entirely reasonable that, in a secular society, government should make these changes. It is almost inevitable that this affects the thinking of churches and other faith communities.
But in our General Synod I said, ‘Because society changes, we don’t have to’
General Convention will address these issues next week. The mood is calmer than it has been – partly because of the departure of many who disagree. They are the poorer for that. Legislative processes in the Episcopal Church don’t necessarily move all that quickly. We’ll wait to see what happens next week