WASHINGTON -- In his dissent in the Supreme Court's decision to legalize gay marriage throughout the country, Justice Antonin Scalia rested part of his case on the notion that marriage was inherently a self-limiting proposition. Rather than expanding intimacy, as the majority of justices concluded, marriage restricted it. And if you thought he was just being acerbic, well, Scalia added, "Ask the nearest hippie."
The Huffington Post decided to take him up on that offer. Shortly after the opinion was made public, we went to the White House in search of the nearest drum circle. We didn't find any.
But we did find some hippies -- old and young, current and former -- willing to discuss whether they felt restrained by the institution of marriage. By and large, they don't.
Paige Carambio of Salem, Massachusetts, said she was a hippie in her youth. As evidence, she noted that she attended a Grateful Dead concert at either the age of 11 or 12, "before Jerry died." Her mom was a hippie, and so was her brother, who followed Phish around for a while. And while she skipped the last year of her high school to attend college early (decidedly un-hippie), she ended up at Bard College at Simon's Rock (holy hippie!). Carambio, 33, is married and traveling with her husband to see her brother in Washington, D.C. She put Scalia on the proverbial couch.
"If his dissent is about him being bummed that monogamy is boring, then he is not doing something right," she said. "This says way more about himself. He and his wife might want to consider couples' counseling or spicing things up a little."
"Marriage hugely expands intimacy," she added. "I think that connecting with another human being and feeling safe alongside someone is truly intimate. The quickest, easiest way to expand intimacy is in a partnership."
Wendy Zhuleku, 34, had come to D.C. from Toronto in order to see the sights. As she walked toward the White House, she conceded that she was once a bit crunchier, more bohemian. She insisted she had discovered the secret to withstanding the natural aging process, at one point declaring that she was really 75. (Hippie credentials firmly established.) Scalia, she said, got it wrong.
"As a married former hippie, I have to say that it expands intimacy," she told The Huffington Post. Still, she conceded there was a point behind Scalia's writing: If you define intimacy squarely as a sexual act, then you do limit it if you enter into a monogamous marriage.
"I think I understand what he is getting at in his legal decision," she said. "But that's because I'm a lawyer."
Farrah Pruskauer, 19, disagreed. Marching toward the White House carrying a sign reading "No More Drug War" (hippie!), she made the fairly logical point that if you want multiple partners, you probably won't end up getting married in the first place. At least you don't have to. So in that way, marriage is a choice for those who believe intimacy is more than just a sexual act.
"I think it depends on the person you are," she said, when asked if Scalia's logic of self-limiting intimacy was right. "But these are decisions you should make before you marry. ... No matter what, when you decide to marry someone you decide you are going to be by that person's side. And that is very intimate."
Neil Cousins, 61, said he doesn't consider himself a hippie, but he did attend marijuana smoke-ins outside the White House in the 1970s. He was volunteering Friday morning at the White House Peace Vigil and lives in Alexandria.
"I've known it to have both reactions," Cousins said of whether marriage limits or expands freedom of intimacy. He said he hasn't been married, but Scalia's quote made him think of his parents and Archie Bunker. "Scalia is a big knucklehead."
Not every hippie we talked to thought Scalia was in the wrong.
One self-proclaimed former hippie said he thought he understood what the justice was trying to say, although he disagreed with Scalia's stance on same-sex marriage. Jim Leytus, 68, lives in the District and was standing outside the White House with his wife, 57-year-old interior designer Troy Leytus. They said he was a hippie but she wasn't -- she's too young -- but they agreed that if Scalia meant marriage in terms of number of partners, that wasn't necessarily wrong (less so if Scalia meant frequency of said intimacy, they said).
"If you're talking about intimacy that's sexual, yes, marriage is limiting," Jim Leytus said. "I mean, that's what it's supposed to be, in theory."