The gay-marriage saga in Florida has come to mirror the Samuel Beckett tragicomedy, "Waiting for Godot."
In that play, the beleaguered characters, Vladimir and Estragon, are standing on the side of the road and trying to boost each other's confidence that their fates will certainly improve once the enigmatic Godot delivers them from their predicament.
In the Florida version, Gov. Rick Scott and his Attorney General Pam Bondi are the beleaguered characters, battered by trying to defend a gay-marriage-ban in Florida that has been found unconstitutional in five separate Florida court cases in the past six weeks.
And like Vladimir and Estragon, Scott and Bondi are placing all their hopes on a distant savior.
"Waiting for Scalia."
Bondi has decided to stop making her vacuous arguments against gay marriage in Florida courts, opting instead to look toward the U.S. Supreme Court for deliverance.
Bondi's waiting strategy allows her to stop defending the Florida constitutional ban against gay marriage on the grounds that gay marriages "would impose significant public harm."
"The promotion of family continuity and stability is a legitimate state interest," the twice-divorced and childless Bondi had argued.
"Florida's marriage laws, then have a close direct relationship to society's legitimate interest in increasing the likelihood that children will be born to and raised by the mothers and fathers who produced them in stable and enduring family units."
Further channeling Beckett's absurdist flair, Scott has supported the discriminatory gay-marriage ban while saying, "I don't want anybody discriminated against."
Like Beckett's fools, Scott and Bondi are paralyzed by inaction as they bank on Antonin Scalia, the go-to justice on the U.S. Supreme Court for anti-gay judicial activism, to rescue them.
But it turns out, Scalia might not be much help. That's because he backed himself into an intellectual corner on gay marriage 11 years ago. Let me explain.
In 1986, a divided U.S. Supreme Court upheld a Georgia law against homosexual sex acts. The case, Bowers v. Hardwick, held that people engaging in homosexual sodomy were not protected by constitutional rights because to do so would "cast aside millennia of moral teaching."
The Bowers case stood until 11 years ago, when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the sodomy law in Texas. The 6-3 decision in Lawrence v. Texas held that consensual sexual conduct was part of the individual liberties covered by the 14th Amendment under the Constitution.
Scalia disagreed, and in his dissent in the Lawrence case, he wrote that if moral disapproval of homosexuality sanctioned under the previous Bowers case was no longer valid, then gay people also would have the constitutional right to have their marriages recognized under law.
"What justification could there possibly be for denying the benefits of marriage to homosexual couples exercising 'the liberty protected by the Constitution'?" Scalia wrote. "Surely not the encouragement of procreation, since the sterile and the elderly are allowed to marry."
Bondi may have overlooked Scalia's lament, but it wasn't missed by U.S. District Judge Robert J. Hinkle, the Northern District of Florida judge who wrote a 33-page opinion this week to explain why he found the Florida ban on gay marriage unconstitutional.
"In his Lawrence dissent, Justice Scalia made precisely the point set out above -- that a ban on same-sex marriage must stand or fall on the proposition that the state can enforce moral disapproval of the practice without violating the Fourteenth Amendment," Hinkle wrote. "... Effectively stripped of the moral-disapproval argument by binding Supreme Court precedent, the (state of Florida) must fall back on make-weight arguments that do not withstand analysis."
It's pretty clear that Scott and Bondi, both facing election this year, are clinging to the gay-marriage ban in order to curry favor with those who find these marriages morally repugnant.
But they may not get the help they're counting on from the U.S. Supreme Court.
Because if they're waiting for Scalia, he has already acknowledged the bankruptcy of clinging to a gay-marriage ban in a legal world that has already decided that one person's moral disapproval doesn't trump another person's right to equal protection under the law.
Frank Cerabino, writes for The Palm Beach Post. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.