During this week’s Senate confirmation hearings for Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, The Log Cabin Republicans (LCR) shared a meme quoting Barrett’s “support” for same-sex marriage.
But the LCR failed to mention that her quote came just before she refused to say whether she herself agreed with the landmark 2015 Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage or whether she would defend it against future attacks on the rights of same-sex couples.
After Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont pointed out that Barrett had received payments from Alliance Defending Freedom, ADF, an anti-LGBTQ legal group that seeks to re-criminalize gay sex, Leahy then asked Barrett if she thought same-sex marriage should be a crime.
“Obergefell clearly says that there is a constitutional right to same-sex marriage,” Barrett stated, referring to Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage.
This is her quote that the LCR touted in its meme, along with the message, “Don’t listen to the scaremongers.”
Leahy then immediately asked Barrett if she agreed with the legal precedent established by the 2015 decision.
Barrett responded, “Well, Senator, for the reasons that I’ve already said, I’m not going to … give a thumbs up or thumbs down to any particular precedent. It’s precedent of the Supreme Court that gives same-sex couples the right to marry.”
In short, she merely stated that the Supreme Court’s decision exists. She neither stated whether she agrees with it nor whether she thinks same-sex marriage should be illegal.
Barrett said twice in her confirmation hearings that her rulings as a Supreme Court Justice would be bound by the legal precedent established by the Obergefell decision. She also said, when questioned by South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, that she doubted any case trying to outlaw same-sex marriage would ever make it to the Supreme Court because lower courts would be bound by the same legal precedent.
But what she didn’t mention was that the Supreme Court is still receiving cases seeking to chip away at same-sex marriage rights. In 2018, the Supreme Court heard a case involving a Colorado baker who refused to sell a wedding cake to a same-sex couple based on his religious beliefs.
The Supreme Court didn’t definitely rule in that case whether people can discriminate against same-sex couples on the basis of sincerely held religious beliefs. It remains an unresolved matter that the court will have to address during Barrett’s tenure.
The court already has another case about same-sex marriage rights facing it: Fulton v. Philadelphia, a case that asks whether tax-payer funded religious adoption agencies should be allowed to refuse same-sex couples.
While the LCR would like to act as if Barrett is settled on the issue of same-sex marriage, her possible openness to letting others undermine its legal power remains unsettling, to say the least.