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The Warren vs Roberts Courts: Separate and Unequal Views on Marriage Equality


The Warren vs Roberts Courts: Separate and Unequal Views on Marriage Equality

Peter Dreier

The Supreme Court's ruling Friday to legalize same-sex marriage is a victory for human rights and an occasion to rejoice. The decision follows in the footsteps of the Supreme Court's 1967 decision in Loving v. Virginia that outlawed states' bans on interracial marriage, an earlier pathbreaking victory for marriage equality.


“O.K. It needs to be said”

Did it really?

“so I’ll say it: this marriage equality stuff is WEDGE only! Why all the focus on something that, in my opinion, ranks down near the bottom of the “focus chart”.”

Because other people have different opinions. And theirs matter too.

“LOVE doesn’t need to have a piece of paper to exist.”

The issue here is justice, and equality under the law. A society which unfairly diminishes any of us diminishes all of us.

“Gay couples, yes, deserve everything “bennies”-wise as do male/female couples”

Mighty white of you.

Does it rank in importance with a world nearing WWlll?”

The world has been nearing WWIII since WWII. We used to be right on the verge of an all-out atomic war, but that didn’t stop us from doing work to address unjust racial and gender discrimination. Even if there is a sense in which those issues were not as important as the possibility of nuclear annihilation, they still had importance in their own right. It has almost never been the case that we can solve issues in their exact order of importance. We make advances where we can.

“Is it as important as the HUGE wealth disparity in the U.S.?”

All that is required in order for something to be important is that somebody has to think it is important. And many people consider this important.

“Does it even come CLOSE to the possibility of a MAJOR upcoming (But well-hidden) approach of a HUGE market crash?”

Let’s grant that would be something serious. Would that recognition give us the power to prevent it? At best, we might be able to delay it a bit. But even if we could, would that be the best long term outcome? Maybe our best chance of real reform would be to let this corrupt system crash itself again–now, while people are still seething over the bailout the banksters got last time. (Which was yet another issue of unfairness and unequal treatment.)

“Certainly this must be more important than the destruction of the planet by: climate change; overpopulation; surging inflation; or war-addiction.”

Those are all issues of general importance, but there is also something to be said for taking a moment to reflect on those occasions when we do have our all-too-rare successes, particularly when they are remarkable and not long ago seemed unattainable. Those are times to examine what worked and why, to see what further gains are possible, to draw encouragement for the many fights ahead, and in this case, maybe to just feel satisfaction that an oppressed block of our population now has occasion to feel joy and celebrate the acquisition of rights which those of us in the privileged set have been enjoying all along. You can try to rain on their party because this doesn’t benefit you directly, but I think that would be small, and I don’t think it will do anything to help with the other issues you cited. Indeed, if you want to unite people on those issues, maybe alienating people is not the best way to go about that.


Excellent, thoughtful, and nuanced response/comment.

And thank you, Mr. Dreier, for this in-depth analysis of several historical decisions along with the Court’s human composition (given that this feature factored into those decisions ultimately put into legal place).


It’s a good thing same sex marriage is now allowed all over the nation. Same sex marriages should be recognized all over the nation even if they were performed abroad, just as opposite sex marriages are recognized even if they were performed abroad.


Mr/Dr(?) Dreier, thank you, thank you, thank you! Finally someone not only runs the Loving story, but also fleshes it out with the historical info about the justices! I’ve been jumping up and down and ranting at friends to SEE the parallels sociologically and legally with Loving v. Virginia. That case’s legal, political and actual antecedents are heartbreaking and shameful. It is shocking that four supposedly intelligent, thoughtful, and educated jurists are mired in bigotry, blindness about the separation of church and state, blindness about the boundary between personal views and constitutional protection of all individuals in the US, specious arguments about states’ rights and democracy and political grandstanding / pandering…like it would be just dandy for a married couple with spousal rights in one state to move to another state where their marriage (& rights) would not be recognized…like it would be just dandy for the whole country to democratically vote against mixed-race marriage or GLBTI marriage and their democratic will be done. (For the record, SC being on the right side of history holds no sway for me. Right is right, equality is equality, period.) (Ooops, also FTR, I agree there are more pressing problems for the country & the planet, but I’m glad the SC could throw out this crumb to fairness.)


“Loving” in this case is a lot more meaningful than the US NATO Commander having the name “Breedlove”!!!