NEW YORK -- The US Supreme Court delivered a tacit victory for advocates of gay marriage on Monday, refusing to hear appeals on whether individual states can ban marriage between same-sex couples.
As a result, 11 more states are likely to join the 19 already permitting gay marriage, leaving only 20 to go before the entire nation is draped in rainbow equality. That means roughly 60% of Americans now live in states where equal marriage is legal.
However, as campaigners pointed out the fight isn’t over until the Supreme Court provides a ruling covering all 50 states, bringing the country to what Evan Wolfson of the group Freedom to Marry called a “nationwide resolution”.
Still, the court’s sidestepping of the issue is a huge blow to America’s Christian right and advocates for the "sanctity" of traditional marriage - many of who reacted to the decision like this…
Public opinion in the US has so overwhelmingly moved in favour of gay marriage in recent years that even the Republican Party - nothing more than a vassal for well-financed bigotry of late - was reluctant to speak out against the court’s rejection.
Apart, of course, from Texas Senator Ted Cruz and his Utah factotum Mike Lee, with the latter echoing the former in condemning the court for “abdicating its duty to uphold the Constitution” and allow individual states to define marriage.
This would be the same sacred constitution Cruz now wants to amend to reverse the “tragic and indefensible” decision. Yet that was nothing compared to the collective stamping of feet across America's heartland, as the Godly voiced their disapproval.
Take Peter LaBarbera, a social conservative activist and president of the pithily named Americans For Truth About Homosexuality, who concluded that as a result of the court’s decision Americans “live not in freedom but under tyranny”.
Allowing same-sex couple to marry was so egregious that LaBarbera even called for “civil disobedience on a massive scale”.
“God is not mocked: the Scriptures are clear that homosexual practice is an offense against both God and the very bodies of those who practice it (as is all sexual immorality),” he trumpeted.
Then there was Gordon Klingenschmitt, a former Navy chaplain who was once court-martialed for turning up to an anti-Obama rally in uniform, and who now makes a living on Christian TV.
He reacted with bluster, reminding his followers that “sodomy is still banned by God in all 50 states” and “God will have the last word”. He added: “Every child has a right to a mom and dad. Cruel judges now deny kids' rights in 30 states.”
The Family Research Council was equally vexed, releasing a statement saying the court had “undermine[d] natural marriage and the rule of law”.
“As more and more people lose their livelihoods because they refuse to not just tolerate but celebrate same-sex marriage, Americans will see the true goal, which is for activists to use the Court to impose a redefinition of natural marriage on the entire nation,” the council squawked.
Focus on the Family similarly bellowed, “marriage has always been – and will always be – between a man and a woman... Ultimately, no court can change that truth”. More ominously the Faith and Freedom Coalition promised the Supreme Court that it would "reap a political whirlwind" for their inaction.
Troublingly for the GOP, the court's decision has placed equal marriage back at the forefront of the national debate, and with a presidential election in 2016, it is not an issue prospective candidates can hope to duck - no matter how many times they deflect to "jobs" and "the economy".
During the presidential primaries, the Christian right will expect Republican candidates to come out forcefully in favour of "traditional marriage" - anyone that doesn't is unlikely to get nominated by the party.
Yet - and here's the real quandary - any candidate that opposes equal marriage has almost zero chance of winning a national election. Short of praying for the Rapture, it's a conundrum the Republican Party and its overly influential Christian base has yet to solve.
GIF created by Jan Diehm for the Huffington Post.
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