When the Supreme Court decided last month to take a pass on the subject of same-sex marriage, it was widely believed to spark de facto legality in states where bans had earlier been overturned. This belief turned sour on Thursday when a federal appeals court in Cincinnati ruled in favor of Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan, Tennessee and the gay marriage bans in effect in those states.

This marks the first time a federal appeals court has weighed in on the side of gay marriage bans, putting the Sixth Circuit court in conflict with several earlier decisions. The ruling will likely force the Supreme Court to take a look at the issue in the coming months and rule once and for all on the constitutionality of these state bans.

Supreme Court

Earlier Supreme Court decisions, including their ruling on same-sex federal benefits, provide an indication of how they will come down on this one. It’s unfortunate, though, because this is a matter that is best left for states to decide on their own. The Constitution puts as much power as possible into the hands of state lawmakers. The Founding Fathers may not have foreseen this dispute over the definition of marriage, but they knew better than to impose social norms from the federal level.

That we are reaping the harvest sewn by liberal activists is beyond contention. Conservatives have lost this battle in a big way, largely due to ignoring it until it was too late. Even upon finally addressing the issue, elected Republicans have done a terrible job of explaining why same-sex marriage is a bad idea. Then again, it’s a difficult argument to make when liberalism, feminism, and queer politics have invaded nearly every corner of our American lives.

But laws should not be subject to moral whims or cultural trends, at least not at the federal level. If state legislators want to legalize gay marriage, let them have at it. If every state in the country wants to do it, fine. But to thwart the will of the people from a bench…that’s when we get into judicial activism territory, and that is an area where no conservative should be willing to compromise.

In any event, this latest court decision is unlikely to slow the progress of gay marriage. Once the Supreme Court finally decides to weigh in, the issue will be put to bed as it should have been last month. Gay marriage will win; it’s already been confirmed that the Justices have a liberal interpretation of the 14th Amendment. Our country will move to the left once more, and conservatives will soon be asked to accept polygamous marriage as well. Since we put up such an anemic fight against this, don’t be surprised when that passes, too.

In 20 years, we’ll have an understanding of how the legalization of gay marriage affected everything from the economy to social norms. Proponents accuse the right of being on the “wrong side of history,” but we’ll see.