Chief Justice John Roberts does not “begrudge” people for celebrating Friday’s Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. But, he warned, the decision was also actually a loss for gay rights advocates.
“Indeed, however heartened the proponents of same-sex marriage might be on this day, it is worth acknowledging what they have lost, and lost forever: the opportunity to win the true acceptance that comes from persuading their fellow citizens of the justice of their cause,” Roberts wrote in his dissent. “And they lose this just when the winds of change were freshening at their backs.”
Roberts argued in his dissent that it was not the Supreme Court’s place to grant gay couples the right to marry, and that same-sex marriage should have been left to the political process in the states to decide.
“Supporters of same-sex marriage have achieved considerable success persuading their fellow citizens—through the democratic process—to adopt their view,” Roberts wrote. “That ends today. Five lawyers have closed the debate and enacted their own vision of marriage as a matter of constitutional law. Stealing this issue from the people will for many cast a cloud over same-sex marriage, making a dramatic social change that much more difficult to accept.”
He also cited an essay written by “thoughtful commentator” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 1985, where Ginsburg argued that the Supreme Court had moved too quickly in its Roe v. Wade decision.
“Closing debate tends to close minds,” Roberts wrote. “People denied a voice are less likely to accept the ruling of a court on an issue that does not seem to be the sort of thing courts usually decide.”
Roberts said that those in favor of gay marriage could “by all means celebrate today’s decision.”
“But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it,” he said.