Justice Kennedy turned his back on children


When oral arguments on DOMA and Prop 8 took place back in March, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy acknowledged that if the Court allowed homosexual couples to participate in the institution of marriage society would head into “uncharted waters,” primarily because we “have five years of information to weigh against 2,000 years of history or more.”

“On the other hand,” he unsurprisingly remarked, “there is an immediate legal injury…and that’s the voice of…40,000 children in California that live with same-sex parents.” Rather presumptuously, Justice Kennedy argued that these children “want their parents to have full [marriage]recognition and full [marriage]status. The voice of those children is important in this case, don’t you think?”


We now know which way Justice Kennedy went. He ruled against 2,000 years of history and sided with five years of social experimentation.

Though not mentioned until page thirteen of his opinion, the needs of children seem to be what convinced Kennedy to strike down DOMA, which he asserts “humiliates tens of thousands of children now being raised by same-sex couples.”

While never explicitly defining what he means when he uses the term “marriage,” Justice Kennedy – whose opinion has been described as “rote, perfunctory and shrill,” and who fails to mention the “humiliation” children of polygamous parents have to live with – concludes that DOMA “makes it even more difficult for children [of same-sex couples]to understand the integrity and closeness of their own family and its concord with other families in their community and in their daily lives.” DOMA “writes inequality into” law and ignores the “dignity” conferred upon same-sex “marriages” via State ordinances.

That an allegedly Catholic jurist wrote this opinion is deeply disturbing. By haphazardly invoking terms such as “dignity”, “integrity” and “equality”, Justice Kennedy willfully ignores human nature and the natural law. Instead of relying on reason and specifics in formulating his opinion, Kennedy falls back on sentimentality and emotional appeals to rationalize his radically individualistic perspective.

Indeed, there is no dignity in a union that flies in the face of man’s supernatural end. If I am reading Kennedy correctly, he understands dignity to be whatever the majority says it is, regardless of its deleterious effects on society and the human person. Moreover, it seems as if Kennedy is substituting “dignity” for what could be more accurately described as barbarism, a primitive understanding of freedom wherein human activity is untethered not only from moral truth but, in this case, from society’s – and the Court’s – long-held views on the common good and family life.

Such a malnourished understanding of human dignity shouldn’t be surprising, however. Kennedy, after all, in his ruling on the 1992 case Planned Parenthood v. Casey, wrote the following anti-Catholic statement: “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.”

Kennedy further compounds his errors by glossing over the purported “closeness” of families headed by homosexual couples. Kennedy appears to believe that there is no meaningful difference between the way the offspring of a “married” homosexual couple is brought into existence (through the morally bankrupt practices of surrogacy (a fancy term for when a woman rents out her womb to the highest bidder) and in-vitro fertilization) and the way the offspring of a married heterosexual couple is brought into existence (through a total self-giving, one-flesh uniting act with their opposite-sex spouse). Kennedy’s ignorance of this critical fact indicates he is quite comfortable jettisoning the norms of Western civilization and embracing the notion that the state should put its stamp of approval on the rearing of children in a household headed by a homosexual  couple. By not taking these distinctions into account, Kennedy implicitly states that all forms of conception, child rearing and marriage are equally dignified. Mankind, since the dawn of time, has never believed this.

It is noble that Justice Kennedy wants to look out for the well being of children. It’s unfortunate he feels the need to ignore basic truths about the human person in order to do so. His relativistic, upside down opinion cites no scientific evidence for his position and ignores what basic reason tells us about family life and human dignity. Kennedy’s opinion will further atheitize the public square and will eventually force school districts to teach their students that defenders of the traditional understanding of marriage are nothing more than bigots animated by irrationality. From thin air, Kennedy self-righteously concocts the notion that all adolescents living in households headed by homosexual couples are 1) LGBTQ activists 2) intellectually mature enough to be footnoted in a Supreme Court case 3) by virtue of the “humiliation” they face (which, according to Kennedy, was forced upon them by the state and not by the actions of their biological parent(s)) are entitled to overturn more than 2,000 years of human history 4) do not need a mother and a father and 5) not born with enough dignity to even have a chance to obey the 4th commandment (Honor thy Mother and Father). This is judicial usurpation at its worst. And children, as they have in the past when marriage laws were changed, will get hurt.

The views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of CatholicVote.org


About Author

Stephen Kokx is a freelance writer and adjunct professor of political science living in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He has previously worked for the Archdiocese of Chicago's Office for Peace and Justice. His writing on religion, politics and Catholic social teaching has appeared in a number of outlets, including Crisis Magazine, The American Thinker and his hometown paper The Grand Rapids Press. He is a member of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars and the Society of Catholic Social Scientists, and is a graduate of Aquinas College and Loyola University Chicago. Follow Stephen on twitter @StephenKokx

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