A federal district judge in Puerto Rico recently ruled that Obergefell v. Hodges does not overturn Puerto Rico’s marriage laws because the constitutional protections at issue in that case do not apply to an unincorporated territory like Puerto Rico the same way they do to the states.
Puerto Rico’s governor responded by indicating he will not abide by the ruling: “I will respect what has been determined by higher hierarchy courts that, fortunately, order a very different procedure... The fundamental right to equal marriage has been validated and ordered by the federal Supreme Court and by the appeals court in Boston.”
Predictably, the ruling is being dismissed, and the governor’s defiance celebrated, by same-sex marriage advocates.
But according to these same advocates, federal court orders are supposed to be sacrosanct ground, as we were told last year when the Alabama Supreme Court differed from federal courts in articulating the requirements of the Constitution on this issue.
Merits of this ruling (which is likely to be appealed) aside, the more pressing question is: Would those celebrating such independent judgment by the executive branch in this case also celebrate it if the shoe was on the other foot?
Idaho’s governor certainly was not celebrated in such an instance, and he didn’t even flatly disregard the ruling in that case, but merely disagreed with and appealed it.
Indeed, when federal district courts consistently ruled in favor of same-sex marriage over the last several years, their rulings were celebrated and regarded as law by same-sex marriage supporters. If so, why is the recent federal court decision out of Puerto Rico not law?
Our entire legal system depends upon neutrality and objectivity. When society decides to compromise those qualities for the sake of a controversial issue whose advocates aggressively insist on their agenda, we collectively imperil ourselves.