The majority's opinion can barely be considered a legal analysis. The dissents deal with that thoroughly, so I'm going to talk about some of the legal consequences that I'm worried about.
It shouldn't be controversial to point out that there is a qualitative difference between heterosexual and homosexual unions. It's not passing a moral judgment to recognize that fact and to think gender in marriage is an issue better left to the states. But because sexual orientation is being considered an IDENTITY to such an extent that it actually needs to be validated by the institution of marriage, the Court has decided that we must accept a legal fiction they're the same and to some degree ignore the roles of marriage as something beyond a romantic recognition between two people.
Doing so will not only muck up family law (especially as related to biological parental rights), but the bigger concern is it will lead to government leverage against religious institutions, despite all the accusations of histrionics on that score (the government's attorney admitted that it will be an issue during oral arguments).
Much of which would be be avoided or at the very least a lot less hairy (even if same sex marriage was passed in every state) if we were content to debate within legislatures. Or to put it another way, if the goal was coexistence.
But coexistence won't be the watchword; intolerance for the "intolerant" will be the frame of debate going forward, as it is now. And now the LGBT proponents will ostensibly have the Constitution on their side. Persecution is such a lame word given what's going on overseas, but given LGBT proponents' track record I don't see at what point there will be any letting up. I'm making that projection not based on the character of the average LGBT person (who are among the nicer people I've met), but based on the way I've seen certain individuals publicly hounded by those with the loudest voices for asserting traditional marriage beliefs.
I hope people on the whole have enough reverence for the role of religion in American life to eventually say "enough," but the RFRA hysteria in Indiana doesn't give me much hope.
(All of this is on top of it simply not feeling very great to be thought of as a hateful person as I try to follow the faith I consider the most loving.)
I'll leave off with a few quotes from the dissents that sum up some of my worries:
"Hard questions arise when people of faith exercise religion in ways that may be seen to conflict with the new right to same-sex marriage—when, for example, a religious college provides married student housing only to opposite-sex married couples, or a religious adoption agency declines to place children with same-sex married couples. Indeed, the Solicitor General candidly acknowledged that the tax exemptions of some religious institutions would be in question if they opposed same-sex marriage... There is little doubt that these and similar questions will soon be before this Court. Unfortunately, people of faith can take no comfort in the treatment they receive from the majority today...
By the majority’s account, Americans who did nothing more than follow the understanding of marriage that has existed for our entire history—in particular, the tens of millions of people who voted to reaffirm their States’ enduring definition of marriage—have acted to “lock . . . out,” “disparage,”“disrespect and subordinate,” and inflict “[d]ignitary wounds” upon their gay and lesbian neighbors... These apparent assaults on the character of fairminded people will have an effect, in society and in court."
- Justice Roberts' dissent
"Numerous amici—even some not supporting the States—have cautioned the Court that its decision here will “have unavoidable and wide-ranging implications for religious liberty.” ... In our society, marriage is not simply a governmental institution; it is a religious institution as well... Today’s decision might change the former, but it cannot change the latter. It appears all but inevitable that the two will come into conflict, particularly as individuals and churches are confronted with demands to participate in and endorse civil marriages between same-sex couples.
The majority appears unmoved by that inevitability. It makes only a weak gesture toward religious liberty in a single paragraph... And even that gesture indicates a misunderstanding of religious liberty in our Nation’s tradition. Religious liberty is about more than just the protection for “religious organizations and persons . . . as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths.” ... Religious liberty is about freedom of action in matters of religion generally, and the scope of that liberty is directly correlated to the civil restraints placed upon religious practice.
Although our Constitution provides some protection against such governmental restrictions on religious practices, the People have long elected to afford broader protections than this Court’s constitutional precedents mandate. Had the majority allowed the definition of marriage to be left to the political process—as the Constitution requires—the People could have considered the religious liberty implications of deviating from the traditional definition as part of their deliberative process. Instead, the majority’s decision short-circuits that process, with potentially ruinous consequences for religious liberty."
- Justice Thomas' dissent
"Today’s decision usurps the constitutional right of the people to decide whether to keep or alter the traditional understanding of marriage. The decision will also have other important consequences. It will be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy. In the course of its opinion, the majority compares traditional marriage laws to laws that denied equal treatment for African-Americans and women.... The implications of this analogy will be exploited by those who are determined to stamp out every vestige of dissent.
Perhaps recognizing how its reasoning may be used, the majority attempts, toward the end of its opinion, to reassure those who oppose same-sex marriage that their rights of conscience will be protected... We will soon see whether this proves to be true. I assume that those who cling to old beliefs will be able to whisper their thoughts in the recesses of their homes, but if they repeat those views in public, they will risk being labeled as bigots and treated as such by governments, employers, and schools.
The system of federalism established by our Constitution provides a way for people with different beliefs to live together in a single nation. If the issue of same-sex marriage had been left to the people of the States, it is likely that some States would recognize same-sex marriage and others would not. It is also possible that some States would tie recognition to protection for conscience rights. The majority today makes that impossible. By imposing its own views on the entire country, the majority facilitates the marginalization of the many Americans who have traditional ideas. Recalling the harsh treatment of gays and lesbians in the past, some may think that turnabout is fair play. But if that sentiment prevails, the Nation will experience bitter and lasting wounds."
- Justice Alito's dissent