On his popular and whimsical Facebook page, George Takei offers these admonitions to Judge Sutton, who is currently considering the constitutionality of bans on same-sex marriage in Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee.
One federal judge on the 6th Circuit may hold the key to the first loss of a marriage equality case since the Supreme Court’s Windsor case.
Remember this name: Jeffrey Stewart Sutton. The eyes of the world and history are upon you, Judge Sutton.
If Sutton (the swing vote on the three-judge panel) decides to uphold same-sex marriage bans in Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee, he will go against EVERY other court decision rendered since Windsor and set-up a show down in the U.S. Supreme Court, where 9 people (really, 5) will decide the rights of millions. During oral argument, Sutton seemed to indicate that one basis for upholding the bans in his belief that, in a democracy, the majority should be allowed to decide who is permitted to marry.
That was the law when I was young, when the “majority” decided racial minorities could not marry whites. It took a Supreme Court decision to overturn those laws–in Loving v. Virginia (1967). But this is about rights–guarantees of equality of treatment that cannot simply be voted away through plebiscite. Our courts, after all, are the last bastion of protection against a tyranny of the majority. That is one the very reasons why we have them.
So keep a close watch on the 6th Circuit, friends, and on the reasoning of one judge, who may believe he knows better than the dozens of fair minded jurists from across the political spectrum who have already examined and weighed in on this matter.