Saturday, February 13, 2016

Justice Antonin Scalia: No Friend to Gay and Lesbian Parents

Associate Justice Antonin Scalia of the Supreme Court died today. He was no friend to gay and lesbian parents.

During 2013 oral arguments in Hollingsworth v. Perry, Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia raised the question of harm to children as part of his skepticism about same-sex marriage.

He said: “If you redefine marriage to include same-sex couples, you must – you must permit adoption by same-sex couples, and there’s – there’s considerable disagreement among – among sociologists as to what the consequences of – what the consequences [are] of raising a child in a – in a single-sex family: whether that is harmful to the child or not. Some States do not permit adoption by same-sex couples for that reason. . . . That’s a possible deleterious effect, isn’t it? (See: Dennis Hollingsworth et al., v. Kristin M. Perry et al. No. 12-144. Oral Hearings, page 17, lines 6-13. At:

This Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court felt free to raise the specter of harm to children as the basis for throwing same-sex marriage into doubt, or at least he invited defenders of the ban against same-sex marriage to do so. 

In fact, one of the attorneys hoping to uphold the ban on same-sex marriage in California explicitly said that same-sex and opposite-sex couples are not similarly situated with respect to “responsible procreation.”

In response to this challenge to same-sex marriage, Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy also raised the question of harm to children, but in an entirely different light. He asked how the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage should not itself be understood as an injury to their children. 

Justice Kennedy knew better than to rise to Justice Scalia’s bait.  The welfare of children depends far more on the social status of their parents than on their sexual orientation. When it comes to understanding the meaning of the law for families, Mr. Associate Justice Scalia was on the wrong side of history.

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