Scalia’s dissent saves most of his ire for his fellow justices, but it’s also pretty clear he’s not a fan of same-sex marriage personally. Here are the most memorable comments he’s made about gays, including one from his recent dissent.
1. “[T]he Constitution does not forbid the government to enforce traditional moral and sexual norms … It is enough to say that the Constitution neither requires nor forbids our society to approve of same-sex marriage, much as it neither requires nor forbids us to approve of no-fault divorce, polygamy, or the consumption of alcohol.”
Scalia’s official line is that the court shouldn’t make any decisions on gay marriage. But he gives us an idea of his opinions on the issue by mentioning it in the same breath as polygamy and booze.
2. “Many Americans do not want persons who openly engage in homosexual conduct as partners in their business, as scoutmasters for their children, as teachers in their children’s schools, or as boarders in their home. They view this as protecting themselves and their families from a lifestyle that they believe to be immoral and destructive.”
Scalia made this observation when writing a dissent in Lawrence v. Texas, a case that struck down state laws that criminalise homosexuality. Scalia wanted to let states criminialize sodomy. His dissent suggests he thinks it’s legitimate for Americans to want to keep gays out of their schools and businesses.
2. “Of course it is our moral heritage that one should not hate any human being or class of human beings. But I had thought that one could consider certain conduct reprehensible — murder, for example, or polygamy, or cruelty to animals — and could exhibit even ‘animus’ toward such conduct. Surely that is the only sort of ‘animus’ at issue here: moral disapproval of homosexual conduct …”
This statement came in another dissent: Romer v. Evans, in which the majority found cities were allowed to pass laws that bar discrimination against gay people. Yes, Scalia grouped murder and polygamy along with “homosexual conduct” as the kinds of behaviour that people should be allowed to find “reprehensible.”
4. “This Court has no business imposing upon all Americans the resolution favoured by the elite class from which the Members of this institution are selected, pronouncing that ‘animosity’ toward homosexuality … is evil.”
This assertion also comes from Romer v. Evans and appears to suggest that only upper-class people are concerned about gay rights.
5. [Defending laws that would ban benefits for same-sex partners.] “[I]t would prevent the State or any municipality from making death benefit payments to the ‘life partner’ of a homosexual when it does not make such payments to the long time roommate of a nonhomosexual employee.”
This statement also came from Romer v. Evans and shows that Scalia thinks gay couples who live together are just like roommates.
6.”The death penalty? Give me a break. It’s easy … Homosexual sodomy? Come on. For 200 years, it was criminal in every state.”
Scalia made this remark at the American Enterprise Institute back in October, calling “homosexual sodomy” an “easy” case to decide because the Constitution doesn’t explicitly protect people’s right to engage in it. His stated views on homosexuality made it pretty easy to guess how he’d rule on marriage.
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