A Good Rule of Law: Mind Your Own Business

US Michael Ellis (R) and Filipino Jesus Bascal (L) kiss during a 'Rite of Holy Union' ceremony for the Lesbians Gays Bisexual
US Michael Ellis (R) and Filipino Jesus Bascal (L) kiss during a 'Rite of Holy Union' ceremony for the Lesbians Gays Bisexual and Transgenders (LGBT) community in Manila on June 28, 2015. The leadership of the Philippines' dominant Roman Catholic church stressed its opposition to legalising gay marriage today despite last week's landmark decision by the US Supreme Court. AFP PHOTO / NOEL CELIS (Photo credit should read NOEL CELIS/AFP/Getty Images)

Friday's U.S. Supreme Court decision was a great victory for LGBT rights. But it also was a great victory for something that rests right at the heart of the human experience, the paramount legal doctrine of M.Y.O.B.

Mind Your Own Business.

Reporters love to generate controversy. In a TV interview on Friday, a reporter asked me, "What do you have to say to all of the millions of opponents of gay marriage?"

I replied thusly: "Mind your own business."

OK, I'll admit that that response will not earn me the Nobel Peace Prize. But I'm making an important point here. What difference does it make to Person X if Person Y marries Person Z? Seriously.

I sometimes give a speech where I go through a mock agenda for a Tea Party conference. One of the items on the agenda, from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m., is a colloquium on "How Gay Marriage Destroyed My Straight Marriage," moderated by No One. And attended by No One.

(Now that I think about it, most Tea Partiers who might attend that colloquium wouldn't know what a colloquium is. And for sure, they couldn't spell it. Or as they would write, "spel it.")

Let's face it: Whenever anyone sticks his nose into other people's business, something bad happens. The war in Iraq. The NSA spying on everyone because I-don't-know-why. Chinese cyberattacks. Even the Patriots stealing opponents' signals. Hey, everyone, just mind your own business!

One of the basic functions of the U.S. Supreme Court, which we just saw in spades, is to prevent a prejudiced majority from employing the law as a device to stick their noses into the business of "discrete, insular minorities." That phrase comes from the most famous footnote in U.S. Supreme Court history, footnote 4 of the decision United States v. Carolene Products Co., 304 U.S. 144 (1938). Here's the good part:

"[P]rejudice against discrete and insular minorities may be a special condition, which tends seriously to curtail the operation of those political processes ordinarily to be relied upon to protect minorities, and which may call for a correspondingly more searching judicial inquiry..."

(Congratulations, you just passed the bar exam. Now good luck finding a job.)

In Carolene terms, the LGBT community is a discrete, insular minority. Prejudice against gays means that they cannot rely exclusively on political processes to protect them from prejudice and inequality. Therefore, in Friday's decision, after a "searching judicial inquiry," the U.S. Supreme Court did so. Q.E.D.

So Friday's decision was not merely a victory for our LGBT friends. It was a quantum leap forward in how we see each other- - with a very healthy respect. We mind our own business.

Or, as Pope Francis put it, "Who am I to judge?" A very good question, for all of us.


Rep. Alan Grayson

"It doesn't matter much to me."

-- The Beatles, "Strawberry Fields Forever." (1968).