Frank Pignanelli & LaVarr Webb: Examining the repercussions of Judge Shelby's decision
Webb: I can’t predict what the Supreme Court will do, but Judge Shelby’s decision not to stay his own decision and to refuse the state’s request to do so, was a remarkable act of judicial immodesty. I can understand his ruling in favor of gay marriage. But even a smidgen of humility would have required him to allow his monumental decision to be reviewed by fellow jurists at higher levels before unleashing an eruption of gay marriages. All levels and branches of government are expected to be deliberative and thorough before forcing wrenching changes on society.
All this lone, low-level federal judge did was to reject a thousand years of tradition, overturn a state constitutional amendment overwhelmingly approved by Utah voters, and threaten similar provisions in many other states. He might suffer illusions of grandeur, but he should understand that this fundamental change in the most important relationship in society — marriage — deserved additional review and discussion before taking effect.
What are some of the indirect ramifications of the decision on similar issues?
Pignanelli: The momentum to protect gay and lesbian citizens with anti-discrimination laws will slow as the marriage issue percolates in the courts. The Legislature may consider another anti-discrimination proposal — now on life support if not DOA. Similar actions in County and City governments could also be stalled.
Webb: I have many dear friends who are gay and lesbian. I care about them and understand their elation over Judge Shelby’s decision. I recognize that attitudes regarding same-sex attraction are changing rapidly, and many of the changes are positive. We ought not to discriminate in housing and employment, and young people with same-sex attraction need support, not ostracism. But we need to be wise and deliberative and not rush to change long-standing pillars of society without understanding the long-term consequences.
Endnote: Republican LaVarr Webb is a political consultant and lobbyist. Previously he was policy deputy to Gov. Mike Leavitt and Deseret News managing editor. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Democrat Frank Pignanelli is a Salt Lake attorney, lobbyist and political adviser. Pignanelli served 10 years in the Utah House of Representatives, six years as minority leader. His spouse, D'Arcy Dixon Pignanelli, is a state tax commissioner. Email: email@example.com.