The New York Times looks at the likely aftermath of a June Supreme Court ruling that there is a constitutional right to same-sex marriage:
Still, once the Supreme Court speaks, in a decision widely expected to make same-sex marriage a national right, the opponents’ anger and energies are likely to focus on a more limited issue, what they call protections for conservative religious officials or vendors who want to avoid involvement in same-sex weddings.
Gerald N. Rosenberg, a political scientist and legal scholar at the University of Chicago, said his former predictions of a wider, lasting backlash to marriage rulings had been overtaken by the “sea change in public opinion.”
Such “opt out” proposals may produce political heat, as recently seen in Indiana and Arkansas, where the governors, under pressure from businesses, felt compelled to weaken so-called religious freedom bills. But they will not impede the ability of gay couples to marry, Mr. Rosenberg said.
Yet whatever resistance strategies are adopted, many legal and political experts who have studied the impact of divisive Supreme Court rulings in the past, and the trajectory of the same-sex marriage movement, say they do not expect a lasting, powerful backlash of the kind that followed decisions on school desegregation and abortion.
Instead, the experience in states where same-sex marriage has already been legalized suggests that public opposition is likely to wither over time.
“As more couples marry, more people will know people who are married,” said Michael J. Klarman, a legal historian at the Harvard Law School and author of a 2012 book on earlier same-sex marriage rulings. “And those who oppose it will find out that the sky doesn’t fall.”
Assuming that the Supreme Court rules the right way, I think that’s correct. Same-sex marriage is not abortion; it is not the taking of life. There will not be mass mobilizations to pass Ted Cruz’s constitutional amendment.
But the debate over whether independent vendors with religious views opposed to participating in same-sex weddings should be forced by the state to do so (at the behest of angry authoritarians) will continue, and it will be ugly. Think witch hunts.
Confusing the matter is a related but different issue: whether civil servants should be able to opt out, and here I think the answer has to be no. There is a key difference between private, self-employed citizens who don’t want to provide creative services to same-sex weddings, and servants of the state.
While some of my friends on the left seem to think everyone is essentially (or should be) treated as a servant of the state, that’s actually not the American way, and shouldn’t be.
But, on the other hand, if government officials can’t perform their duty to treat all citizens equally, citing their own religious convictions, then they should step aside. Separation of church and state is also the American way.