National Review has posted a symposium contemplating what the Supreme Court has wrought in its gay marriage decision of this past Friday. The decision represents itself as the culmination of a long line of cases and related social developments. In the first contribution to the symposium, however, Notre Dame’s Professor Gerard Bradley asserts that it is only the end of the beginning. Concluding with an allusion to the prison warden’s admonition to the prisoners in Cool Hand Luke (“you’re gonna get your mind right — and I mean right”), Professor Bradley writes:
It is not the “end” of anything, save the limited but important transformation of marriage law, heralded by the Court’s 2003 Lawrence decision, more literally commenced later that year by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, and now finally consummated by five lawyers who happen to sit on our Supreme Court.
This transformation is itself the “beginning” of something much larger and more dangerous than same-sex, monogamish “marriages.” Yes, polygamy is just around the corner. And Obergefell’s evident determination to, somehow, use the law to equalize the self-esteem (“dignity”) of adults and children in all sorts of irregular groupings is at least Orwellian.
But this is not the half of it. As it has been so far described, one might imagine that there is a dyad involved, one consisting of the “state” on one hand, and these diverse family-ish groupings — and that the rest of us just go about our business. Not so. The revolutionary mindset that the Court has perhaps half-witlessly embraced means to eliminate all felt “stigma,” any trace of social “humiliation,” just so that everyone’s “identity” is equally valued.
Doing all that requires a lot more than just a fair shakedown at the courthouse. It requires getting all of our minds right. And so we should expect today’s decision to inaugurate the greatest crisis of religious liberty in American history. I am certain that it will.