The story of why the resignation is one that is full of love and commitment and should be an inspiration for any of us. Ms Marshall is married to Reporter and Columnist Anthony Lewis (Two Pulitzer Prizes). Now 83, Mr Lewis has Parkinson's Disease. It is a terrible disease and the victim has to fight, fight, fight. And, he or she needs the loving support of family and friends. Ms Marshall's decision is an inspiration.
Regarding the career of Chief Justice Marshall there is much focus on the Goodridge v Department of Public Health decision. This was the decision that brought same-sex marriage to Massachusetts.
The Goodridge decision surprised me on two counts. The first was that the Supreme Judicial Court did not just invoke the First Amendment of the US Constitution and say that "marriage" is a religious issue and that the interest of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts was in recording contracts. Given that the Chief Justice had some reputation for looking to legal decisions overseas to influence her, I thought the German example would have been excellent. When I was stationed in Germany in the late 1960s, if one wished to marry, one went to the local City Hall and pulled a license and got married. If one wished to be married in a religious ceremony, one went to the local City Hall and pulled a license and got married at the local City Hall and then went to a Church for a Church wedding. However, the local "Civil" wedding was what was needed by the Government.
Thus, it seemed to me that Ms Marshall should have said, we are talking about registering contracts and the state has no interest in the sex of the contractees. Thus, all couples, to have a contract, must go down to their local City Hall and raise their hands and have their contract authenticated. And, the reason is, at some point the State might have to dissolve the partnership. And there are tax issues and in some cases responsibilities for raising minors.
The Opinion says:
Here, no one argues that striking down the marriage laws is an appropriate form of relief. Eliminating civil marriage would be wholly inconsistent with the Legislature's deep commitment to fostering stable families and would dismantle a vital organizing principle of our society.But, making marriage strictly a civil affair would be consistent with this move. Perhaps people are put off by the idea of not using the word marriage in the legislation, but the point is that marriage seems to drag religion into the discussion. This, in turn, violates the First Amendment of the US Constitution.
The second thing that puzzled me is the Supreme Judicial Court saying it is OK for the Legislature to prohibit certain forms of marriage, as long as it does not mess with same-sex marriages. It does this at Footnote 34:
Similarly, no one argues that the restrictions on incestuous or polygamous marriages are so dependent on the marriage restriction that they too should fall if the marriage restriction falls. Nothing in our opinion today should be construed as relaxing or abrogating the consanguinity or polygamous prohibitions of our marriage laws.Frankly, given the multicultural nature of our society, this footnote seems to make the whole decision either thoughtless or corrupt.
That said, I still have the right to write this blog post, so the fundamental freedom of speech appears to remain intact, as does my freedom of religion and freedom of assembly and freedom to petition the Government.
Regards — Cliff