Things are moving at warp speed now. Hard to believe it was only last July that the registrar of wills in Montgomery County, Pa., D. Bruce Hanes, announced that his office in the county seat of Norristown would defy the law of the commonwealth by issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. It was portrayed as “heroic” in the local media, the little shrimp against a whale.
But yesterday morning at the restaurant where I work, The Philadelphia Inquirer headline blazed “Same-Sex Victory in Pa.,” and not a breakfast patron batted an eye. In 10 months’ time, the championing of homosexual marriage went from heroism to a cakewalk, as U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III struck down the Keystone State’s traditional definition of marriage, positioning the commonwealth to be next in line for legal same-sex marriage, especially now that our conservative governor has given up, saying an appeal would be “extremely unlikely to succeed.”
Mr. Hanes was no fool. He knew it was only a matter of time—and a short time, at that—that his “heroism” would pay off. You don’t have to be a high roller at the Borgata in Atlantic City to see it was a safe bet: You take the heat for a few months in 2013 and wait for it to pay off in spades in 2014, because that’s the way the wind is blowing. Sure enough, no sooner did Judge Jones overturn Pennsylvania’s traditional marriage law than the savvy Hanes filed an emergency application with the state Supreme Court to do away with Commonwealth Court Judge Dan Pelligrini’s order from last September that stopped Hanes from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
With no more philosophical reflection on his ruling’s long-range implications than a house plant, Judge Jones congratulated himself and like-minded Pennsylvanians on their mental superiority over a hundred past generations: “We are a better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history.” As sickening as the new lurch toward Sodom is the specter of civic leaders making impassioned speeches in favor of a current of thought that is already wildly popular—and pretending they are still the underdogs.