THE BLOG
03/28/2013 10:31 am ET Updated Feb 02, 2016

Excuse Me, Justice Alito, But We've Been Around Since Long Before Cellphones, Thank You

One of the most idiotic and offensive statements to come out of the Supreme Court marriage equality arguments -- and there were a few -- was when Justice Alito claimed during the Prop 8 arguments that the Internet and cellphones are older than same-sex marriage:

Traditional marriage has been around for thousands of years. Same-sex marriage is very new. There isn't a lot of data about its effect. And it may turn out to be a good thing; it may turn out not to be a good thing, as the supporters of Proposition 8 apparently believe. But you want us to step in and render a decision based on an assessment of the effects of this institution which is newer than cellphones or the Internet? I mean we... we are not... we do not have the ability to see the future.

I'm not sure what Alito means by "traditional marriage," because what was going on, and considered totally acceptable, "thousands of years" ago, even according to the very Bible that Alito-cons often cite, was polygamy, concubines and ownership of wives, as well as selling children into slavery and men marrying their sisters and their daughters. Thankfully, we have transformed marriage over the centuries, and certainly in this country over the past hundred years or so, much for the better for all those involved. Nonetheless, if the standard for giving gays the right to marry is, according to Alito, whether it will "turn out to be a good thing" or a "not a good thing," well, then, we had better ban heterosexual marriage now, because, considering the high divorce rate, many would say it's turned out not only to be a "not a good thing," but actually an unmitigated disaster.

Of course, it's not the Supreme Court justices' job to be Sociologist in Chief and decide whether there's enough "data" about the "effect" of giving a group civil rights. If Alito said that about any other group, it would be uniformly condemned as blatant bigotry.

And the claim that same-sex marriage is newer than cellphones is perhaps one of the most ignorant things we've heard from this Supreme Court, even including Justice Scalia's most slanderous rants. Any reading of the history shows that same-sex unions, many officially sanctioned, go back "thousands of years" to the earliest civilizations in China and Africa, and up through ancient Greece and Roman cultures, and Europe in the Middle Ages. It may be new in this country to actually give gay couples a license and a certificate, and have the state confer rights, but there's been "data" of the "effect" of gay relationships for as long as there have been gay people, and that data says that gays and their relationships hurt no one. It is actually the children of gay couples who are harmed, as Justice Kennedy rightly noted during the Prop 8 arguments, when their parents are not able to get married, something that the American Pediatrics Association recently offered as the reason that it now backs marriage equality.

Whatever the outcome of the Prop 8 and DOMA cases, the arguments have shed light on the fact that not only are some of the justices still living in a world before cellphones existed; they're from an era in which cave drawings were the preferred mode of communication.

Subscribe to the Queer Voices email.
Get all of the queer news that matters to you.