Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people won two victories in the Supreme Court today. We expected the big one: the fourth in a series of opinions by Justice Anthony Kennedy—one of the last sitting Reagan appointees—vindicating our right to legal equality. The unexpected one was smaller in public impact but also significant: Justice Antonin Scalia’s disclaimer that he is not personally troubled by the fact that we can marry each other. After a series of opinions, speeches and public comments expressing his strong disapproval of us, vigorously defending society’s right to express this attitude in discriminatory public policies, Scalia begins his characteristically vitriolic dissent by protesting that “the substance of today’s decree is not of immense personal importance to me.”
Yeah, right. This strikes me as the least sincere disavowal of homophobia I have encountered since former Majority Leader Dick Armey tried to argue that his reference to me as “Barney Fag” was just a mispronunciation of my last name. What we have here instead marks a tactical shift.
Apparently, Justice Scalia has come to realize that since public opinion in America has moved away from anti-LGBT prejudice, heavily salting his writings with a personal distaste for the idea that we should enjoy the same rights as our heterosexual brothers and sisters weakens the appeal of his legal reasoning.