It didn’t take long for the backlash to emerge after the Supreme Court handed downObergefell v. Hodges. From opponents of same-sex marriage one heard the usual empty talk about constitutional amendments and civil disobedience. The fiercer—and uglier—backlash came from the victors.
A case in point is the Patriot-News. The Harrisburg, Pa., paper rushed out an editorial that began celebratorily enough: “June 26 just became a de facto national holiday for gay Americans. . . . [Justice Anthony] Kennedy nailed it: There are no rights more fundamental than due process and equal treatment under the law.”
Not even free speech? Definitely not, according to the Patriot-News, which in the same editorial announced this new policy: “As a result of Friday’s ruling, PennLive/The Patriot-News will no longer accept, nor will it print, op-Eds and letters to the editor in opposition to same-sex marriage.”
Of course Advance Publications Inc., which owns the Patriot-News, has a perfect right under the Constitution to make its own editorial decisions. The announcement, however, is both strange and gratuitous.
It’s strange because the Patriot-News’s intolerant new policy actually is at odds with the ruling to whose authority the paper claims to bow. “It must be emphasized,” Justice Kennedy wrote, “that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned. . . . The same is true of those who oppose same-sex marriage for other reasons.”
It’s gratuitous because ordinary editorial practices would have yielded the same result. Now that the question is settled as a matter of law, letters and op-eds arguing the policy merits can be rejected as untimely. The same will be true “after a limited time” about those dealing with the legal merits.