While the United States Supreme Court may have ruled in favor of marriage equality, Louisiana Supreme Court Justice Jefferson Hughes, along with a few of his colleagues, isn’t too happy about it. Yesterday, the Louisiana Supreme Court finally conceded that in the case of Costanza v. Caldwell, “the State of Louisiana may not bar same-sex couples from the civil effects of marriage on the same terms accorded to opposite-sex couples.”
Even though the Louisiana Supreme Court grudgingly found in favor of the plaintiffs, Angela Costanza and Chastity Brewer who sought the ability for one of them to legally adopt their son, they weren’t exactly thrilled about it. Justice Jeannette Theriot Knoll wrote that she was basically forced to vote the way she did by the Supreme Court, and ironically complained about activist judges. Oh, and she also pulled the “I have gay friends but…” argument, because what prejudiced statement would be complete without claiming you have friends who are of a minority, so that completely absolves you of being the bigot you really are?
“While I have many friends in same-sex relationships, I respectfully would not bestow upon them legal rights of marriage as having a child of their physical union is literally impossible. Having children may be accomplished through legal adoption or artificial means of reproduction but neither avenue requires marriage.
It is a sad day in America when five lawyers beholden to none and appointed for life can rob the people of their democratic process, forcing so-called civil liberties regarding who can marry on all Americans when the issue was decided by the states as solemn expressions of the will of the people. I wholeheartedly disagree and find that, rather than a triumph of constitutionalism, the opinion of these five lawyers is an utter travesty as is my constrained adherence to their “law of the land” enacted not by the will of the American people but by five judicial activists.” (Source)
The complaint about “judicial activists” is nothing new. Every time a court rules against a pet conservative belief like opposing marriage equality and upholds the Constitution, you’ll hear right-wingers cry about how judges are reinterpreting it to fit their agenda. Associate Justice Jefferson D. Hughes, along with other Louisiana Supreme Court justices, were a prime example of that, even as they attempted to defy the United States Supreme Court and deny rights based on their own religious agendas.
While Justice Jeannette Theriot Knoll’s little hissy fit over having to rule in favor of giving a same-sex couple the same rights as everyone else was petty and juvenile, the dissent by Justice Jefferson D. Hughes was bizarre as he cited no precedents or any other legal reasons for his decision. He also implied with his comments that same-sex couples could not provide a “safe and stable environment” for the children they adopt, despite the fact that one of the plaintiffs was the child’s biological mother, and that couples like them were possibly adopting children in order to prey on them. The following is his two paragraph dissent, bold emphasis is mine.
Judges instruct jurors every week not to surrender their honest convictions merely to reach agreement. I cannot do so now, and respectfully dissent. Marriage is not only for the parties. Its purpose is to provide children with a safe and stable environment in which to grow. It is the epitome of civilization. Its definition cannot be changed by legalisms.
This case involves an adoption. The most troubling prospect of same sex marriage is the adoption by same sex partners of a young child of the same sex. Does the 5-4 decision of the United States Supreme Court automatically legalize this type of adoption? While the majority opinion of Justice Kennedy leaves it to the various courts and agencies to hash out these issues, I do not concede the reinterpretation of every statute premised upon traditional marriage. (Source)
What Justice Jefferson D. Hughes is suggesting is one of the old slanderous stories opponents of gay rights have told for many years – that gay people seek to recruit young children to “their lifestyle” and that they wish to adopt children in order to prey on them. It’s no surprise that Justice Hughes is also a member of Shady Bower Pentecostal Church, a Christian denomination which has made opposition to homosexuality an important part of their doctrinal statement. His dissent wasn’t based on law or facts, but purely on falsehoods fabricated by religious bigots, a group it would be safe to guess he belongs to.
It’s a good thing that the United States Supreme Court ruled the way it did on June 26th, because if it was left up to state judges like Justice Jeannette Theriot Knoll or Justice Jefferson D. Hughes, same-sex couples would still be waiting for equal rights in Louisiana one hundred years from now. Their attitude reminds us that while marriage equality is now the law of the land, the justice system still has many members who give precedence to outdated beliefs over the Constitution.
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