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So Much For Federalism & Gay Marriage

A federal judge in Virginia has struck down that state’s ban on same-sex marriages. Earlier this week, a federal judge in Kentucky ruled that the state had to recognize same-sex marriages contracted in other states. This effectively overturns Kentucky’s ban, given that all gay Kentucky couples have to do is fly to a gay marriage state for the ceremony, and they’re in. The L.A. Times, reporting on the Kentucky case, writes:

No federal judge has ruled in favor of such bans since a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision on the issue last summer. Recent judicial decisions have overturned or chipped away at state laws banning gay marriage that once passed with the great popular support of voters and state legislatures.

It wasn’t immediately clear how Heyburn’s ruling will be received in deeply conservative Kentucky, whose voters approved a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in 2004 with 74% of the vote.

A spokeswoman for Atty. Gen. Jack Conway told the Los Angeles Times that his office was still reviewing Heyburn’s decision.

The judge, an appointee of President George H.W. Bush, perhaps aware of the outrage his ruling might raise, connected his arguments against the state’s ban with allusions to the country’s past civil rights struggles against sexism and racism.

Protecting tradition, Heyburn wrote, no matter how ancient or deeply held, was not good enough of defense for laws that create different rules for different groups of people.

“For years, many states had a tradition of segregation and even articulated reasons why it created a better, more stable society,” Heyburn wrote, in what may likely become one of the most frequently-quoted passages of his decision. “Similarly, many states deprived women of their equal rights under the law, believing this to properly preserve our traditions.

“In time, even the most strident supporters of these views understood that they could not enforce their particular moral views to the detriment of another’s constitutional rights. Here as well, sometime in the not too distant future, the same understanding will come to pass.”

Traditional Christians are all segregationists now. The federal judiciary is making that clear. The rout that many of us have seen coming is upon us.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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