Peter St. Onge

Are you unhappy with your country on the Fourth?

The Observer editorial board

It’s July 4, and you’re not very happy with your country.

Specifically, you’re unhappy with your country’s Supreme Court, which ruled last week that the marriages of same-sex couples shall be legal in every state.

Your bible tells you – and a lot of others – that homosexuality is a sin, and that marriage should be between a man and a woman.

The justices – five of them, at least – believe the Constitution says otherwise.

What can you do?

You can believe the Court made a mistake, of course, and others should respect your right to those beliefs – even when they disagree.

You can argue – out loud – that your government shouldn’t recognize non-traditional marriage. But you should expect people to disagree just as loudly, because the free speech principles that give voice to your beliefs also apply to those who think you’re wrong.

You can even decide, as some public officials have, that if your job requires you to accommodate homosexuality and your beliefs require otherwise, you need another job.

Or you can go a step further.

Like U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, who stepped in front of every camera he could find this week to call the Supreme Court justices “lawless” and advocate removing them by imposing term limits.

Like Texas attorney general Ken Paxton, who also declared the Court was “lawless” before providing public officials in his state a roadmap to how they might defy the same-sex ruling and keep their jobs.

Like the Alabama Supreme Court, which told state officials and judges that it would take 25 days to consider what to do with the Supreme Court ruling – as if there were other options besides “obey it.”

You should know that for all of them, and for all states that try to dodge the same-sex decision, that this is a losing fight.

You should remember that there was similar anger, and similar defiance, when the Court ruled against segregation more than a half-century ago.

In Virginia, it was called the “massive resistance.” In Alabama, it was the “stand in the schoolhouse door.”

And although vestiges of that defiance remain, it ultimately was harmful, economically and otherwise, to the states that endorsed it.

That will be true today, as well. Because the laws that courts affirm serve not only to protect us from the actions of others. They also frame what is culturally and socially acceptable.

That’s what the Supreme Court did when it ruled that blacks deserved equal treatment a half-century ago. It’s what the Court did again when it ruled that homosexuals deserved equality in marriage.

With each decision, the justices moved those who condemned blacks and gays further to the fringe. The same will be true for states that try to legislate their way around the same-sex marriage ruling.

This is the path our country always takes with minorities, even those the framers shunned. Slowly, but eventually, they become equals in the government’s eyes – and most of our eyes, too.

That, by the way, is part of what we celebrate today.

So you can believe the Supreme Court justices are activist or misguided. You can believe they’ve just sent America on a dangerous path.

But the Court gave us a reminder last week, as it often does.

You may be unhappy today with your country.

But it’s not your country. It belongs to all of us.

Peter: pstonge@charlotteobserver.com; @saintorange

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