Last weekend sexual minorities celebrated the legalising of gay marriage in the US after the Supreme Court ruled that the right was enshrined under the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment. But not everyone has welcomed the news.
The judgement came in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges in which a same-sex couple succesfully argued that the 14th amendment of the US Constitution required their home state of Ohio to recognise that their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state.
Unsurprisingly, much of the outrage at the decision has been centred around religion. In Western nations many Christian leaders have claimed that same-sex marriage is abhorrent to God, despite liberal Christians asserting that Jesus made no statements on homosexuality in the New Testament.
Mike Huckabee, former Republican governor of Arkansas and US presidential candidate, even predicted civil disobedience, telling the US broadcaster ABC: “I don’t think a lot of pastors and Christian schools are going to have a choice. They either are going to follow God, their conscience and what they truly believe is what the scripture teaches them, or they will follow civil law.”
Others have focused on the legal side. Ken Paxton, attorney general of Texas, damned the move as a “lawless ruling” and vowed that state workers who refuse to marry couples on religious grounds will be defended in court free of charge. Likewise in Louisiana the Clerks Association said it was advising clerks of the court to postpone issuing same-sex marriage licences until the end of the three-week period the Supreme Court has to consider a rehearing of the case.
But disgust was not confined to American legislators. A rainbow filter tool for profile pictures on Facebook introduced in celebration of the decision was parodied in Russia, where government laws ban providing information about homosexuality to people under age 18. As such several filters were created to splash the colours of national flags in protest.
In the Middle East many social media users also came out strongly against gay marriage. “Damn you and your marriage. You have distorted our innocent childhood [symbol], we used to like the rainbow,” declared one Twitter user. In Egypt around 2,000 tweets mentioned the rainbow motif, most of them critical. Some users even went so far as to blame a weekend storm on users who turned their profile pics multi-coloured.
Yet even if those hostile are numerous, many backed the move. Barack Obama, mere president of the US, welcomed the decision, saying it “affirms what millions of Americans already believe in their hearts. Today, we can say in no uncertain terms, that we have made our union a little more perfect.”
Neil Patrick Harris, an actor in How I Met Your Mother and married gay American, said: “It’s a new day. Thank you Supreme Court. Thank you Justice Kennedy. Your opinion is profound, in more ways than you may know.” George Takei, former Star Trek actor and gay rights activists, concurred: “My eyes shine with tears as marriage equality is ruled the law of the land.”
For the 39% of Americans that polls suggest oppose same-sex marriage, perhaps the words of comedian Daniel Tosh will be some comfort:
‘This is what I say to the most conservative person that’s so terrified of gay marriage becoming legal. Just because the state says it’s legal, it’s not like God’s going to let them into Heaven. So you can still sleep sound every night knowing that goal line defence is up at the pearly gates.”
Header Image – Rainbow White House, June 2015 by The White House