According to Me: Welcome to the new America

Welcome to the new America. Most of what you thought you knew about its construction was wrong. Sure. You needed to know that the first president was George Washington and then there was all that information about the Articles of Confederation and the Revolutionary War and the creation of three distinct branches of government employed for the specific purpose of protecting our Constitution. That stuff got you through school. Yet, in the end, none of that really matters. At least, that’s the message being conveyed.

You see: Friday’s “monumental” Supreme Court ruling simply underscores the uncomfortable truth that the very fabric that holds our country together – the Constitution – is no longer of any real import.

Justice Anthony Kennedy waxed poetic page after page about his understanding of the history and virtue of marriage before asserting that the forefathers’ ideology of freedom as expressed in the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment left future generations the opportunity to redefine the ideal insomuch as the culture of the day would dictate.

That is to say that the culture of yesteryear was against gay marriage, so a ban on it under the guise of Constitutional rule would have been just fine. However, the culture of today says that freedom is withheld if a man cannot marry a man, therefore the Constitution says that such can occur.

No wonder Justice Antonin Scalia called the ruling a “threat to American democracy” and said, “The substance of today’s decree is not of immense personal importance to me. But what really astounds is the hubris reflected in today’s judicial Putsch.”

Chief Justice John Roberts exclaimed that the decision had “nothing to do with the Constitution” – a position confirmed by a thorough reading of Kennedy’s assent.

As Roberts told those excited by the decision to celebrate, he offered a chilling caveat: “But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it.”

Ignorant of the circumstances argued within the case, Friday’s Supreme Court ruling is a loss for the United States of America in that Kennedy’s thought process – along with those of his four assenting compatriots – has entered into precedent the notion that the Constitution is malleable. The Constitution has, effectively, lost is constitution.

Kennedy has also entered into precedent that prohibiting someone to marry the chosen object of their love is demeaning to personal freedom. The logical end of that proposition is nothing short of disturbing, the hypothetical outcomes of which evoke images running the gamut from Lars and the Real Girl to animal affection to incestuous unions and so on.

And if those notions are offensive to you, just consider what Kennedy actually implied – A) To inhibit marriage is to inhibit freedom. B) Culture defines what marriage should be. C) The Constitution upholds the cultural definition of marriage.

Therein lies the great failing of the Supreme Court. The question at the core of Obergefell v. Hodges was whether states had the right to define marriage. The answer from the Supreme Court, in a manner of speaking, is that culture has the right to define marriage.

Setting aside the notion of where that could lead in future generations, we would be remiss not to consider the asininity of the notion. Culture is a construct, by its very nature an indefinable entity. Culture is much different for a 33-year-old, white, male, Christian reporter in a rural southern town than it is for the 15-year-old black girl two neighborhoods over or the 70-something Jewish woman or 50-something atheist man who may happen to live in the same zip code. Culture is so fluid that it cannot even be defined clearly within a singular ethnic group. So, “culture dictates definition” is a mantra that cannot be applied in sweeping strokes across both rural Nebraska and metropolitan Massachusetts or White America and Black America or religious America and non-religious America or young America and old America; as it now has been following Friday’s decision.

Then again, none of this should come as a genuine surprise. Foreshadowing of this phenomenon came in May 2008 when the California Supreme Court overturned Proposition 22, a March 2000 referendum that declared only marriages between a man and a woman are legally binding. Despite the fact that 61 percent of Californians voted against gay marriage in 2000, the California Supreme Court dashed the decision because it understood that of which you and I are only now becoming aware: democracy is unConstitutional.

In a vacuum, the gay marriage decision probably is not inherently an issue for the 33-year-old, white, male Christian from our previous example who also happens to be a preacher. The decision – in a vacuum – does not prohibit him from preaching the text to which he adheres (the Bible) that defines marriage in no uncertain terms (Matthew 19) as a covenantal union between one man and one woman for one lifetime with only one caveat.

But, therein lies the problem: the 33-year-old, white, male, Christian reporter/preacher doesn’t live in a vacuum. And the argument that has turned the gay marriage question into a Civil Rights question means that Friday’s Supreme Court ruling is not an exit but merely a mile marker. The road that lies ahead is long and arduous for those who thought the First Amendment protected the free exercise of religion.

As Kennedy has so plainly pointed out, culture dictates freedom. And, last I checked, the same culture that defines marriage as a union between two people of the same sex is a culture that is not altogether interested in a religion that is inherently prohibitive of, well, anything. Welcome to the new America.

Jeremy D. Smith is managing partner of The West Alabama Watchman. He has covered news and sports in Demopolis since 2008. His column, According to Me, appears weekly on