Justice Antonin Scalia's Provocative Comments on Gay Issues

Scalia's Most Controversial Quotables on the Topic of Gay Marriage

March 26, 2013 — -- Since his appointment to the Supreme Court in 1986, Justice Antonin Scalia has delivered some of the most controversial statements heard from the nation's highest court.

Some of his most notable comments centered on issues pertaining to gay rights, the most controversial of which are listed below.

Romer v. Evans -- 1996

In this 1996 case, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of gay rights for the first time. The court's majority ruled that individual states had the right to ban discriminatory practices against gay people, with Scalia among those dissenting.

"Of course, it is our moral heritage that one should not hate any human being or class of human beings. But I had thought that one could consider certain conduct reprehensible -- murder, for example, or polygamy, or cruelty to animals -- and could exhibit even 'animus' toward such conduct."

"This court has no business imposing upon all Americans the resolution favored by the elite class from which the members of this institution are selected, pronouncing that 'animosity' toward homosexuality ... is evil ... I vigorously dissent."

"The amendment prohibits special treatment of homosexuals, and nothing more. It would not affect, for example, a requirement of state law that pensions be paid to all retiring state employees with a certain length of service; homosexual employees, as well as others, would be entitled to that benefit. But it would prevent the state or any municipality from making death benefit payments to the 'life partner' of a homosexual when it does not make such payments to the long time roommate of a nonhomosexual employee."

"The only denial of equal treatment it contends homosexuals have suffered is this: They may not obtain preferential treatment without amending the state constitution."

Lawrence v. Texas Dissent -- 2003

The Supreme Court's landmark 6-3 ruling to strike down Texas's anti-sodomy laws provided for some of Scalia's most colorful language. The hearing focused on whether or not consensual sexual intimacy was part of the liberties provided to citizens under the 14th Amendment. The court's ruling upheld these liberties and invalidated laws that criminalized sodomy between consenting adults in Texas and other states with similar legislations. Scalia dissented to the ruling.

"[The r]espondent would have us announce ... a fundamental right to engage in homosexual sodomy. This we are quite unwilling to do."

"[The Texas anti-sodomy law] undoubtedly imposes constraints on liberty. ... So do laws prohibiting prostitution, recreational use of heroin, and, for that matter, working more than 60 hours per week in a bakery."

"Many Americans do not want persons who openly engage in homosexual conduct as partners in their business, as scoutmasters for their children, as teachers in their children's schools, or as boarders in their home. ... They view this as protecting themselves and their families from a lifestyle that they believe to be immoral and destructive."

"State laws against bigamy, same-sex marriage, adult incest, prostitution, masturbation, adultery, fornication, bestiality, and obscenity are likewise sustainable only in light of Bowers' validation of laws based on moral choices. Every single one of these laws is called into question by today's decision."

"Today's opinion is the product of a court, which is the product of a law-profession culture, that has largely signed on to the so-called homosexual agenda, by which I mean the agenda promoted by some homosexual activists directed at eliminating the moral opprobrium that has traditionally attached to homosexual conduct."

American Enterprise Institute Speech -- 2012

In a discussion before the American Enterprise Institute in October 2012, Scalia said solving some of the most controversial topics facing the legal system would be very easy according to his textualist constitutional interpretations. Scalia's comments came nine years after the Lawrence v. Texas ruling, which upheld consenting individuals' rights to sexual privacy in legislation.

"The death penalty? Give me a break. It's easy. Abortion? Absolutely easy. Nobody ever thought the Constitution prevented restrictions on abortion. Homosexual sodomy? Come on. For 200 years, it was criminal in every state."

"Do not believe anything you read about the internal workings of the Supreme Court. ... It is either a lie because the press knows we won't respond -- they can say whatever they like and we won't respond -- or else it's based on information from someone who has violated his oath of confidentiality, that is to say, a non-reliable source. So one way or another it is not worthy of belief."

Princeton University Appearance -- 2012

In December 2011, Scalia made an appearance at Princeton University to speak about the Constitution. Undergraduate student Duncan Hosie found Scalia's previous statements "extremely offensive" as a homosexual and took the opportunity to ask him about his past comparisons of homosexuality to bestiality and murder.

"I don't think [such comparisons are] necessary, but I think it's effective. ... It's a form of argument that I thought you would have known, which is called 'reduction to the absurd."

"If we cannot have moral feelings against homosexuality, can we have it against murder? Can we have it against other things? I don't apologize for the things I raise. ... I'm surprised you aren't persuaded."