POLITICS

Clarence Thomas Cites Slavery In His Dissent Against Marriage Equality, For Some Reason

06/26/2015 12:58 pm ET | Updated Jun 26, 2015

WASHINGTON -- Justice Clarence Thomas has lost his damn mind.

In Thomas' dissent in Obergefell v. Hodges, the case that officially made marriage equality the law of the land on Friday, the Supreme Court justice claimed that enslaved Africans weren’t deprived of their “dignity” simply because they were enslaved. Therefore, Thomas argued, same-sex couples weren't actually being deprived of anything -- at least not anything, you know, important -- when they couldn't get married.

Seriously. That's what he said. Don't take our word for it -- see for yourself:

Human dignity has long been understood in this country to be innate. When the Framers proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal” and “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,” they referred to a vision of mankind in which all humans are created in the image of God and therefore of inherent worth. That vision is the foundation upon which this Nation was built.

The corollary of that principle is that human dignity cannot be taken away by the government. Slaves did not lose their dignity (any more than they lost their humanity) because the government allowed them to be enslaved. Those held in internment camps did not lose their dignity because the government confined them. And those denied governmental benefits certainly do not lose their dignity because the government denies them those benefits. The government cannot bestow dignity, and it cannot take it away.

Just... what? We'd like to suggest an alternative argument, which is that slavery did eliminate the dignity of the slaves because it was a brutal and racist system of state-sanctioned bondage. Thomas is really reaching here. Yes, human dignity is innate, but of course it can be undermined by discriminatory government policies. Just because the government didn't bestow something doesn't mean it can't take it away.

Chief Justice John Roberts, another objector in Friday's ruling, mentioned interracial marriage bans in his own dissent. He said that laws against interracial marriage “‘arose as an incident to slavery’ to promote ‘White Supremacy’” and argued that eliminating those bans caused “deep transformations” in the structure of marriage -- but he said that it didn't alter the core principle of marriage being between a man and a woman.

“If you had asked a person on the street how marriage was defined, no one would ever have said, ‘Marriage is the union of a man and a woman, where the woman is subject to coverture,’" Roberts wrote, referring to the outdated convention in which "a married man and woman became a single legal entity." "The majority may be right that the ‘history of marriage is one of both continuity and change,’ but the core meaning of marriage has endured."

The amount of false equivalence floating around today is too damn high. It’s pretty insulting to invoke the history of legal racism to explain why states should be allowed to discriminate against same-sex couples (many of which include people of color, incidentally).

Oh well. The bottom line is that the U.S. has finally joined the list of countries that allow same-sex marriage. It's done, it happened, it's on the books. Love prevailed -- the haters can get over it.

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