"A year and a half ago, even the president of the United States opposes gay marriage. President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, signed DOMA into law. Now all of a sudden, after Obama changes his mind, the whole country supports gay marriage, and those who don't are bigots."
What accounts for this sudden and shocking spike in bigotry?
It depends on what the meaning of bigotry is. (To paraphrase that humanitarian, Bill Clinton.)
But — to quote Marbury v. Madison — as quoted in the DOMA case, United States v. Windsor, "‘[i]t is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is.’ ” Zivotofsky v. Clinton, 566 U. S. ___, ___ (2012) (slip op., at 7) (quoting Marbury v. Madison, 1 Cranch 137, 177 (1803))." (I know, who quotes Marbury like that? And what the hell was Zivotofsky v. Clinton? Was there some insuperable urge to bring up Bill Clinton? The Clinton in Zivotofsky was Hillary Clinton, in her Secretary of State role, and this was the case about the State Department's refusal to list Israel as the place of birth on a U.S. passport for a person born in Jerusalem.)
So if it's the Court's duty to define the terms, and opposition to same-sex marriage is defined as nothing but bigotry, then it's the Court's decision in Windsor that accounts for the sudden and shocking spike in bigotry.
But let's be clear about a few things.
1. The majority opinion in Windsor did not use the word "bigotry" (or "bigot"). That word appears in Chief Justice Roberts's dissenting opinion: "At least without some more convincing evidence that the Act’s principal purpose was to codify malice, and that it furthered no legitimate government interests, I would not tar the political branches with the brush of bigotry." Justice Alito also uses the word: "Acceptance of [Windsor's] argument would cast all those who cling to traditional beliefs about the nature of marriage in the role of bigots or superstitious fools."
2. The majority's expression is "a bare congressional desire to harm a politically unpopular group," which might sound extreme, but it appears in the case law going back to the early 70s, and it's a stock phrase used to characterize the government's interest when the Court is applying minimal scrutiny and therefore needs to say that there is no legitimate governmental interest.
3. What that "bare... desire to harm" language really means is: We don't want to have to heighten scrutiny for this discriminated-against group — they don't want responsibility for what that would mean in future cases — but we do want to be able to strike this down while staying at the minimal scrutiny level.
4. This doctrinal maneuver produces the strange impression that the Court is calling Bill Clinton and the majority of the members of the 104th Congress a bunch of bigots.
5. Now lots of traditionalists have the raw material to whine and cry about being called bigots. I doubt if that will work out very well for them, but they've been stewing in their own juice for a long time, and they're going to find it hard to stop. Unfortunately, same-sex marriage was originally presented as a conservative idea, and traditionalists could have gotten out in front of liberals on this issue if they'd listened to the original argument and predicted the future better, and now they'll have to scramble to improve their image. If they think crying about being called bigots — when, again, the majority didn't even use that word — is going to help, I just have to laugh. You took the opportunity to oppress when it was there, and now that it's gone, you want to say you are oppressed. Man up, losers. You lost. And you deserved to lose. Now, stop acting like losers. If you can. (I bet you can't!)