You’d never accuse the Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice John Roberts, of liberal activism. Not even now. This year’s decisions made it easier for states to discriminate in voting practices, harder for employees to sue their bosses for discrimination, and easier for property owners to resist government takings for public ends.
Faced with rising opposition to discrimination against gays and lesbians, though, the court struck down DOMA’s federal marriage ban in Windsor v. United States. The federal government will now treat legally married same-sex couples the same as straight couples. Same-sex couples in discrimination states like Florida face ambiguity and more litigation.
Apart from new rights for some and hope for others, Windsor reframes the public debate by conceding what anyone familiar with the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) knew: the statute was about irrational hostility towards a minority rather than the ludicrous argument that gay marriage could harm straight people.
Hostility is easy to spot with the Westboro Baptist Church — a small group in Kansas that seeks media attention by holding anti-gay protests at military funerals even when the dead soldiers are not gay. At least the Westboro group owns up to its hostility when it protests.
Legislators are wilier in their hostility. When demeaning a group, t