I spent all morning reading the decision, which has incited all sorts of furor from social conservatives.
I will have more on the decision and its implications later, but wanted to take the opportunity to highlight Matthew Franck’s take-down of the ruling at Public Discourse. This part is especially good:
Judge Walker seems to have committed the fallacy of composition—taking something true of a part and concluding that it is also true of the whole of which it is a part. If it is true that “gender” no longer matters as it once did in the relation of husband and wife, he reasons, therefore it no longer matters whether the relation is one of husband and wife; it may as well be a relation of husband and husband or of wife and wife, since we now know that marriage is not, at its “core,” a “gendered institution.” But restated in this way, it is quite plain that the judge’s conclusion doesn’t follow from his premises. To say that the status of men and women in marriage is one of equal partners is not to say that men and women are the same, such that it does not matter what sex their partners are. The equalization of status is not the obliteration of difference, as much as Judge Walker would like to pretend it is.
The most stunning part of the decision is this particular “finding of fact”: “Religious beliefs that gay and lesbian relationships are sinful or inferior to heterosexual relationships harm gays and lesbians.” (Bold is, of course, mine).
Contrary to David Sessions, I think that the line was delivered from the court as a finding of “fact” is sufficient to call the upon an “attack on religious beliefs.” It’s hard to interpret it any other way.
But that’s not the most damning or relevant aspect of that “fact.” The reasons that the court gives for it are (a) expert testimony, and (b) a list of statements from conservatives and religious organizations saying that they think that homosexuality is sinful.
David Blankenhorn, the lead expert witness for the traditional marriage side was excoriated in the ruling for not sufficiently establishing according to accepted social science standards that gay marriage either harms the state, children, or anyone else. But the expert testimony in this case cites 0 studies to establish that religious beliefs harm gay people. There seem to be two standards at work for what counts as “fact” and what doesn’t.
There’s a lot more ink to be spilled, especially about the social conservatives’ misguided reaction. Check back on Monday if you’re interested in more, and feel free to have a respectful conversation here about the ruling.
Addendum: John Yoo is also worth reading on this.