Tom Clyde: Shrugging off the end of the world
July 3, 2015
How time flies. It was only a week ago that the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples must be afforded the same legal status as everybody else when it comes to marriage. The states had not shown any compelling interest in making the distinction that would justify it. Finding the idea "icky" was apparently not an adequate reason to discriminate. It was a big deal, and there was a lot of news coverage of the decision and how it affects real people.
Several Republican presidential candidates denounced it in the strongest terms. So in addition to repealing Obamacare (and replacing it with the still top-secret Republican alternative we’ve been hearing about for six years without ever seeing it), they are now pounding the desk demanding a constitutional amendment on marriage. The decision was the end of the world. For about 48 hours.
So here we are a week later. The sun still rises on schedule. We have not been beset by unusual earthquakes, floods or pestilence. Same-sex couples are now getting married in all 50 states and the planets have not careened out of alignment. They did have to add a "leap second" to some official clock to adjust for the earth being a little slow in its orbit, but that had been planned for years. It wasn’t related to the Supreme Court decision. The nation has given the issue a collective shrug and moved on.
Religious groups still have their vestments in a bunch because they don’t want to be forced to perform marriages that violate their beliefs. They don’t have to, and shouldn’t have to. The Catholics still have all kinds of rules about divorced people getting re-married in the church. Nobody is demanding that get changed. If they think it is a sin for a same-sex couple to marry, they shouldn’t have to perform the ceremony or host the reception in the church. Chances are the same-sex couple isn’t planning their wedding around finding a minister who disapproves of them. The Westboro Baptist Church is probably on red alert, but I can’t imagine a gay couple wanting to be married there. I mean it’s just so tacky. It will work itself out.
That’s the funny thing about so many of these social issues. If you don’t want to marry another dude, don’t. It’s entirely optional. Only now those who want to actually do have the option. And it didn’t take anything away from those who don’t want to. There has not been a surge in divorces among heterosexual couples who suddenly discover that they can’t stand the idea of being married now that the two women in the house across the street are married to each other.
A year from now this will be so ordinary that nobody will remember that it was once controversial. There will be the occasional spasm of angst when a cake decorator is forced to decide between turning business away or making a wedding cake for a gay couple. But we also kind of got past that one a generation ago when restaurants and other public services were forced to integrate racially. It’s not that hard, and if the pastry chef can’t stand the heat, he or she should get out of the kitchen.
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The only surprise in this is how quickly the nation changed from not even comprehending the idea to same-sex couples being featured in advertising for banks, cars, and insurance. Once there’s a gay couple holding an Asian baby in the Wells Fargo ad, it’s all over.
Summer is racing by. I finally rode my bike up Wolf Creek pass for the first time of the season. The wildflowers are in full bloom and with the wet weather early on, they are thick and just spectacular. In the relative cool of the morning, the ride was just perfect. For the first time of the season, the pace was OK but it apparently got steeper over the winter. I used to do the climb from my house to the summit, 10 miles and 2,500 feet of vertical, in just under an hour. That was on a different bike with a triple chain ring on front. But not anymore. I’m blaming it all on the different gearing. The passage of 20 years has no part in it. I can’t complain about the slower pace. Not when the scenery was that pretty.
It was midweek and there was no traffic. On the way back home, there were several other cyclists grinding their way to the top, and a few more cars. I stopped to check the raspberry patch, and they are still weeks away. If you go too fast, you miss them. Don’t want to do that.
Tom Clyde practiced law in Park City for many years. He lives on a working ranch in Woodland and has been writing this column since 1986.