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Justice Ginsburg Proves Opponents of Gay Marriage Really Have No Argument

Created: 29 April, 2015
Updated: 15 October, 2022
2 min read

If Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wasn't a favorite among gay rights activists and supporters of marriage equality, she certainly is now. As The Guardian reported Tuesday, her stance on the issue is not surprising as she is commonly perceived as one of the court's more liberal justices. Yet what she had to say silenced even her conservative colleagues on the bench and may have a profound impact on how the court ultimately rules:

"“Marriage today is not what it was under the common law tradition, under the civil law tradition,” said Ginsburg when Justices Roberts and Kennedy began to fret about whether the court had a right to challenge centuries of tradition. “Marriage was a relationship of a dominant male to a subordinate female,” she explained. “That ended as a result of this court’s decision in 1982 when Louisiana’s Head and Master Rule was struck down … Would that be a choice that state should be allowed to have? To cling to marriage the way it once was?” “No,” replied John Bursch, the somewhat chastised lawyer for the states who are seeking to preserve their ban on gay marriage." - The Guardian, April 28, 2015

When Burch tried to argue that the sole purpose of marriage was procreation, Ginsburg again came back with a response that stumped the lawyer:

“Suppose a couple, 70-year-old couple, comes in and they want to get married?” remarked the 82-year-old Ginsburg, to laughter, after a protracted debate over whether it was fair to ask couples if they wanted children before allowing them to wed. “You don’t have to ask them any questions. You know they are not going to have any children.”

The fundamental legal argument from those who oppose extending marriage rights to gay and lesbian couples is that it will  weaken the institution. Yet, as Ginsburg pointed out several times during oral argument, there are several flaws to this approach. According to the Guardian, "her bottom line [...] was persuasive enough that even Chief Justice Roberts was sympathetic."

“All of the incentives, all of the benefits that marriage affords would still be available. So you’re not taking away anything from heterosexual couples. They would have the very same incentive to marry, all the benefits that come with marriage that they do now.” - Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Read the full article here.

Image: Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

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