Notes concerning SCOTUS same-sex decision Obergefell v. Hodges

Here are a few points of interest concerning  SCOTUS same-sex decision Obergefell v. Hodges.

My patented emphases and comments.

First, see the comments of Phil Lawler:

So now is it ‘hate speech’ to deplore the Obergefell decision?

The ink was barely dry on last week’s Supreme Court ruling when Father James Martin, SJ, began scolding Catholics who were, from his decorous perspective, too strident in denouncing the decision.  [Is anyone surprised at Fr. Martin’s full-throated glee at the decision?]

”No issue brings out so much hatred from so many Catholics as homosexuality,” Father Martin told his Facebook followers. He repeated the same message several times throughout the day, warning commenters that they must not indulge in “homophobia” and suggesting that someone who questioned whether we were all expected to sing “Kumbaya” was illustrating his point. So is sarcasm now prima facie evidence of hatred?

In my own surfing through the internet, reading scores of posts on the Obergefell decision, I can honestly say that I did not see a single message, a single comment, that struck me as hate-filled. Perhaps Father Martin’s email traffic is qualitatively different from mine. Or perhaps—far more likely, I’m afraid—he sees “hatred” where I see only vehement disagreement.

Is it possible to be angry about the Obergefell decision, to consider it a travesty of justice and a betrayal of the Constitution, without being viewed as a hater? Wait; let’s turn that question upside-down. Is it possible to see all serious disagreement with the decision as hate-speech, without celebrating the outcome of the Obergefell case?

I ask the latter question, you see, because if Father Martin was upset by the Supreme Court ruling, his dismay did not show through on his Twitter feed. He recommended three columns reacting to the decision: one by a fellow Jesuit, recounting how his grandmother could not marry her lesbian partner; another by the gay New York Times columnist Frank Bruni, celebrating the decision; the third by the gay activist/blogger Andrew Sullivan, also celebrating.

The recommendation for Andrew Sullivan’s piece was particularly striking because of the title: “It Is Accomplished”—an explicit reference to the words of Jesus Christ on the Cross. Father Martin, who was horrified by so much of what he read on Friday afternoon, let that blasphemous headline pass without comment.


At Legal Insurrection I saw this.  This came out before Obergefell v. Hodges, so don’t let the tenses screw up your head:

Elena Kagan 2009: “There is no federal constitutional right to same-sex marriage”

I came under some criticism in May 2010, when Kagan was nominated for the Supreme Court, for taking Kagan at her word. Claims were made that I took the sentence out of context, was naive, or shamefully deceptive. I’ll plead guilty to being naive, but I didn’t take her sentence out of context, shamefully or otherwise. Matt Vespa’s 2013 post at PJ Media summarizes the back and forth.

Here is the first part of Kagan’s testimony, with context by me:

In response to a question from Sen. John Cornyn (at page 28 of her Senate Judiciary Questionnaire), Kagan stated flat out that there was no constitutional right for same sex couples to marry (emphasis mine):

1. As Solicitor General, you would be charged with defending the Defense of Marriage Act. That law, as you may know, was enacted by overwhelming majorities of both houses of Congress (85-14 in the Senate and 342-67 in the House) in 1996 and signed into law by President Clinton.

a. Given your rhetoric about the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy—you called it “a profound wrong—a moral injustice of the first order”—let me ask this basic question: Do you believe that there is a federal constitutional right to samesex marriage?

Answer: There is no federal constitutional right to same-sex marriage.

b. Have you ever expressed your opinion whether the federal Constitution should be read to confer a right to same-sex marriage? If so, please provide details.

Answer: I do not recall ever expressing an opinion on this question.

This doesn’t mean that Kagan opposes gay marriage. But she clearly believes it is a matter for the political process, not a constitutional right.


She now holds “better-informed understanding”, I suppose.

From IJReview:

A Mass Communion Was Given In Front of the Supreme Court After The Gay Marriage Ruling [No, don’t worry.]

Rev. Mary Kay Totty of the United Methodist Church arranged a mass communion for those gathered to celebrate the Supreme Court’s ruling on gay marriage today. The communion took place one hour after the decision to legalize gay marriage nationwide was passed down.


As the photo caption says: “The communion consisted of two loaves of bread and a cup of grape juice.”

Yes, indeed that is correct.  That’s what it was.

On the Communion theme, from Detroit’s FreeP from waaaaay back in 2013…. seems like decades ago, really:

Detroit-area Catholic leaders urge gay marriage supporters to skip Communion

A Detroit professor and legal adviser to the Vatican says Catholics who promote gay marriage should not try to receive holy Communion, a key part of Catholic identity.

And the archbishop of Detroit, Allen Vigneron, told the Free Press Sunday that Catholics who receive Communion while advocating gay marriage would “logically bring shame for a double-dealing that is not unlike perjury.”

The comments of Vigneron and Edward Peters, who teaches Catholic canon law at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, are part of a polarizing discussion about gay marriage that echoes debate over whether politicians who advocate abortion rights should receive Communion.

In a post on his blog last week, [2013, remember?] Peters said that Catholic teachings make it clear that marriage is between one man and one woman. And so, “Catholics who promote ‘same-sex marriage’ act contrary to” Catholic law “and should not approach for holy Communion,” he wrote. “They also risk having holy Communion withheld from them … being rebuked and/or being sanctioned.”

Peters didn’t specify a Catholic politician or public figure in his post. But he told the Free Press that a person’s “public efforts to change society’s definition of marriage … amount to committing objectively wrong actions.”


If it was true then, it is true now.

Finally, let’s remember what the CDF said in 2003… approved by St. John Paul II HERE:

In those situations where homosexual unions have been legally recognized or have been given the legal status and rights belonging to marriage, clear and emphatic opposition is a duty. One must refrain from any kind of formal cooperation in the enactment or application of such gravely unjust laws and, as far as possible, from material cooperation on the level of their application. In this area, everyone can exercise the right to conscientious objection. … If it is true that all Catholics are obliged to oppose the legal recognition of homosexual unions,Catholic politicians are obliged to do so in a particular way, in keeping with their responsibility as politicians.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in One Man & One Woman, Our Catholic Identity, Sin That Cries To Heaven, The Coming Storm, The future and our choices and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. benedetta says:

    As to that facebook series of blasts described above, all I can say is that facebook has become a very difficult place for a lot of people to have any sort of meaningful communication, and further a lot of online blogging and daily blasts of analyses are similarly being eschewed by a lot of thoughtful people nowadays, people who have been writing online for a very long time, and Andrew Sullivan is just one of those people, and it sounds as if that was an unfortunate if repeated ongoing sort of a thing being circulated and going around, for whatever reason.

    The statement that “nothing brings out so much hatred from so many Catholics like homosexuality” is a dogma which is a bit inconsistent in my longtime experience in very diverse Church circles, though. As a matter of fact, from dissenting congregation (formed just on that precise issue, evidently) to the most as some publications would describe as “conservative” and to Latin Mass congregations, I have in fact never, ever heard anyone express hatred about homsexuality or gay people. I do not think my experience is all that unusual or different from that of the vast majority of Catholics.

    There are of course a lot of people nowadays who feel that if they identify as Catholic publicly that they may have to face some threats, harassment, apparently for this alone, because others misunderstand and mis-characterize their Christian witness as being “hating”, just for, say, believing in God, or, being prolife. And this worry is not without foundation or precedent, of course. The worry is being borne out, as we speak, sadly. Clearly in the pursuit of an agenda a lot of innocents have been harmed. I for one know that there is a way in which we can affirm the goodness of the family as well as respect and cherish gay people. And I will even go so far as to apparently contradict that facebook statement above by saying that if there is any place capable of doing that it is the Catholic Church instituted by Christ.

    So I would just hope for the sake of our Catholic youth that people do not participate in, or further invest in, a useless stereotype to add upon the suffering that gay persons have felt they have had to endure historically, by now bringing more animus upon others, particularly others who had nothing to do with that history personally and never will. Within the Church, the needs of children and youth still are a priority, more so than ever before. I do not think it should be described or registered, within secular culture, in the Church, or by anyone, as “hating” if during the secular celebration we continue to focus on the littlest among us, as best we can, as we have always attempted to do, which we are called to do. I think calumny is the worst way to achieve political ends, personally, but with this event there is a clear way forward for all of us who place our trust in the Lord.

  2. Michael H says:

    Father: I’m going to ask an embarrassing (for me, not you) question. Before I ask, be assured that I’m not a troll. I’m a cradle Catholic, observant, and attend TLM every Sunday and Holy Day at St. Stan’s in Milwaukee. All sacraments are present and accounted for, except Holy Orders and Anointing of the Sick.

    Here goes: Can you direct me to a solid explanation of why the Church does not allow same sex marriages? I understand the creation of Adam and Eve, and complimentary. I’m looking for a good resource to study so I can discuss this with some people in my extended family who rely on articles explaining (sometimes with a flow chart!) that the Bible doesn’t address same sex marriage, nor specifically prohibit it. They also like to list the usual OT things – prohibitions, etc., that are largely ignored and use that as a reason to call anti-ssm arguments weak.

    Thanks in advance.


  3. ckdexterhaven says:

    Father James Martin routinely deletes or admonishes commenters on his Facebook who engage the pro abortion Catholic commenters on his Facebook page. He likes his social justice bubble, conservative h8ers are not allowed.

  4. acardnal says:

    Michael H., here’s a link to O.T., N.T., and various catechism quotes throughout the centuries which oppose sodomy because it is a grave mortal sin that “cry out to God for vengeance” (CCC 1867):

    From the CCC of 1997:HERE

    From earlier sources: HERE

  5. The Masked Chicken says:

    Dear Michael,

    I’m between sessions, so I’ll be quick. Google Aquinas on Natural Law. Here are two links:

    The Chicken

  6. Alanmac says:

    Father James Martin, SJ, needs to be re-catechized. He routinely favours homosexual marriage on his blog. I was deleted from it by arguing against that issue.
    Sodomy is one of four sins that cry to heaven. Father Martin should know that and oppose this nonsense.

  7. acardnal says:

    I’m pleased you posted Mr. Phil Lawler’s article.

    I am unaware of Fr. Martin ever defending Christians when they are criticized for being “intolerant” and “bigoted” for teaching God’s truth about the grave sin of sodomy. I hope Fr. Martin quoted the following in his Sunday homilies from the USCCB’s June 26 statement: ” same-sex ‘marriage’…is a tragic error that harms the common good ….”

  8. danielinnola says:

    “Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it.”
    ? George Orwell, 1984

  9. Traductora says:

    Rumor has it that there is a bishop in a small diocese (NOT mine!) who is ready to go ahead and do a “gay marriage” ceremony sometime soon. Will the Pope do anything about this?

    We’ve been worrying about the Synod in October, but it’s going to be a moot point if by then bishops are already doing this or giving their clergy permission and are not immediately being removed.

  10. PA mom says:

    Wouldn’t that guidance apply to Catholic judges who create a national right to gay marriage through their votes and official opinions?

    Aren’t their opinions clearly at the level of politics anyway?

    I can’t look at the Supreme Court the same after all of this.

  11. exNOAAman says:

    All big words aside…
    No matter how you slice it… Looking at history,(both ancient and modern); homosexuality has not been kind to us. Perhaps that’s where Fr. M, SJ gets his “hate” idea from. (Although he does not come across as someone who is particularly well versed in history)

  12. Michael H says:

    Masked Chicken and acardnl:

    Thank you. Leviticus poses several problems in that it prohibits the eating of bloody meat, wearing gold, etc.; practices that we regularly undertake, especially if we wear wedding rings and eat rare steaks. I’m looking for some NT-based reasoning. Aquinas on Natural Law is excellent, but a little too dense for a casual conversation with an unchurched relative.

  13. frjim4321 says:


  14. Kerry says:

    Fr. Jim, I agree, with scones.

  15. Norah says:

    Michael H you might like to have a look at:
    Why Same Sex Unions Are Not Marriages by Jimmy Akin 81c on Kindle and

    What Is Marriage: Man and Woman a Defense by – Rhodes Scholar Sherif Girgis, Heritage Foundation Fellow Ryan T. Anderson, and Princeton Professor Robert P. George offer a devastating critique of the idea that equality requires redefining marriage. They show why both sides must first answer the question of what marriage really is.


  16. benedetta says:

    One thing one never hears though among the culture of death deniers or those who posit in their advocacy and writing that Catholics must be more and not less reflections of the popular secular mindset or expression, with one or two deliberate exceptions from that which are obvious is a denunciation of the way hatred is/was expressed and even the architect of so many things that have gravely hurt children, from positions of leadership in the Church, things which are clearly contrary to even secular standards, but which traditional Catholic culture, teaching, and identity counter beautifully, with compassion, love, joy, kindness, and tolerance. One wonders how some can be happy to use internet comboxes and facebook (?!) commenting as exemplars for the stereotype of Catholics as hating people when there are much better exemplars to be had. There is really little like using innocents for one’s own satisfaction and gain for expression of hatred, or, looking the other way, or giving political or other means of support to, the evil and harmful effects, effects that with a little respect for Catholic teaching, the teachings which not only marriage but all things, Eucharist, mercy, the Beatitudes, stem from, could have been quite definitively resisted in the name of goodness and love, caritas. When one sees the ability of many in the Church to be powerhouses for secular goals and political aims, and uses the Church to effectuate same, one cannot help but wonder about situations of harm to innocents about which many seem to have no time or interest in to aid…It would seem to generate an expectation and a confidence of certain things, but then when those things are deliberately thrown aside and sometimes even cultivated, one cannot help but feel completely broken and demoralized.

    Certainly if the Church has the ability to be a force for secular change, then it has the ability to be a force for, secular change, no?

  17. robtbrown says:

    Michael H,

    In the Old Law are Moral Precepts, Ceremonial Precepts, and Juridical Precepts. The Moral Precepts of the Old Law (e.g., against theft, murder, etc) are still binding. The Juridical and Ceremonial Precepts (which concern your examples) are no longer binding.

  18. LarryW2LJ says:

    ”No issue brings out so much hatred from so many Catholics as homosexuality”

    Actually, I find the mirror image of that to be more apropos. No issue brings out so much hatred from so many homosexuals as Catholicism.

  19. ray from mn says:

    Do we have permission now to describe what the abusive homosexual priests (and homosexual loving lawyers and reporters) have done to my Church? Now that their “sins” are legal, maybe we can get the “rest of the story” out to the public.

  20. acardnal says:

    Michael H,
    Try “Defending Marriage: 12 Arguments for Sanity” by Anthony Esolen

  21. benedetta says:

    I think a lot of people, like me, were disconnected from a line of thought in terms of the political goals of some in discovering, even by accident, not for trying, and actually kind of disappointedly and reluctantly admitting to it, that the program all hinged upon advocacy for, justification for, giving cover to those who were involved in or supported, active support for, in abundance, the slaughter of innocents in the womb. A great deal of political thought of course enshrines this as essential and makes all other rights to flow from that, and it was and remains a scandal to understand that a great many within the Church, her institutions and publications and places of power not only agreed with this but were actively involved in supporting that and attempting to convince others to do so similarly.

    From the perspective of hindsight of the machiavellian machinations of those who would effectuate political goals at the instrumentalization of others without their knowledge or ability to consent and cut and run with the goods, so to speak…one can easily comprehend the choice at a certain time to prioritize this issue above all issues and the historical record reflects when this choice was made and the steps that were then committed to, committing many others to, committing many souls without the ability to have any voice or say in violation of their human dignity, not only about politics but about life itself, existence itself…whether one is going to be permitted to even exist…

    There was the JPII generation, and all indicators were at a certain moment and have continued to reflect that young people, steeped wholly in the secular approach and dealing with its effects in terms of the new sexuality, have found the hinging of certain freedoms upon the ability to for any and no reason kill an innocent developing human being just caught in the wrong place in the wrong time, to be incoherent, not benign, and certainly not as the propaganda has pretended to be “healthy” for them or their peers. That this is so, the not healthy, and the refusal even from the unchurched and wholly secular to to along with the deceptions about what a pregnancy really is, about what is really happening there, and about the consequences of pretending of some gnostic unreality for all so much as possible, in terrible abundance, is continually born out by secular data, public health data, sociological and psychological data, crime in our midst, and even coming from a certain jaded and possibly even traumatized/possessed population the occurrence of terror towards Christians, innocents, minority groups, etc…Still, the drumbeat goes on, Roe was enshrined and all else flows from it, none of that matters, we must have what we have convinced ourselves we must have…The politicos saw that the generations coming along were not buying it, even as the Baltimore catechism had been thrown away (burnt), and the Mass gutted of the Real Presence and all the bad old days so disparaged gone away, even with all that, they were not buying it. So, a decision was made, clearly, it was now or never…

    I for one still believe that even with these political goals now achieved, the pundits and movers and shakers, particularly from within our Church itself, can now take a moment of silence to reflect on all that has been lost and perhaps find the opportunity for our metanoia, to say that as God has blessed them with so much, life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, that we can in confidence let others’ have that same opportunity, yes we can, and that we can say to the seculars we believe in life as good, just as God blesses us with it, and we are going to defend it, and perhaps we do not any longer need to cling to a doctrine which lacks coherence and which a great many don’t find convincing or credible any more anyway that dictates that we must be able to slaughter innocents in the womb in order to seek after the liberty of all. There may be rights to privacy (? for some I guess but not all), and it seems to me that we can no longer affirm it with recourse to death. Be not afraid.

  22. acardnal says:

    Michael H.
    Also, I see there is a book coming out this August which looks appealing, “Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom” by Ryan T. Anderson. He is one of the co-authors mentioned by Norah above who wrote “What Is Marriage: Man and Woman a Defense” which I recommend, too.

  23. JPK says:

    What should concern every Catholic about Obergefell is the actual language of the opinion. When I read the opinion I found only one very ambiguous, if not weak assurance that people with religious scruples still enjoy First Amendment protections (see the final paragraph of Section IV). And if anything, the assurance had more to do with Free Speech than the Free Exercise of Religion.

    Additionally, Justice Kennedy failed to differentiate between private religious wedding ceremonies like the Church’s Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, and the public act of obtaining a marriage license. A few of my Catholic friends assured me that Kennedy didn’t have to differentiate between the two, as the case related to gays obtaining a state sanctioned marriage license and not a wedding ceremony at a church. I’m not so optimistic . For one thing, the language Justice Kennedy used in his majority opinion was not the technical language one usually finds in these opinions. In a way Kennedy’s language was downright weird. His emphasis on the “spiritual” health and dignity of gay couples only give future judges (and federal regulators) ammunition to expand upon the more practical aspects of this issue. The fact the Kennedy never once attempted to give this case a narrow reach (to that of public offices that issue marriage licenses) should send up alarm bells in every parish rectory and chancery.

    Now that marriage is a constitutionally protected right, the executive branch of the federal government will get involved. Sometime in the near future some office (probably in HHS) will draft rules and regulations concerning the issuance of marriage licenses. Additionally, the office will make formal and binding definitions of what constitutes “marriage”. Using Obergefell, the federal government may take a very expansive view of marriage that may shock a lot of Christians. The fact that the high court DIDN’T write a narrow opinion that explicitly set boundaries means the Executive Branch will do it for them. And there lies the danger. If the Dignity of gays (as defined by Obergefell) runs against the Free Exercise of Religion, one side will have to give in. The Equal Protection language of Obergefell may just be enough to tip the balance.

    Remember, Scalia, Kennedy, and Thomas are all over 70. There is absolutely no guarantee that when this issue is again litigated in the near future that there will be even 4, let alone 5 Justices willing to defend the Free Exercise of Religion. One day Bishops may find themselves forced to allow gays to marry in the Church or face federal prison

  24. pjthom81 says:

    A quick correction JPK, Clarence Thomas is only 67.

    Your overall point is taken though. The opinion is expansive although I think that much of it can be taken to be Kennedy being a ham and taking his bows and applause before what he believes to be the judgment of history. I am reminded of the joke that the difference between God and a Federal judge is that God does not think he’s a Federal judge. Sic transit gloria mundi.
    My thoughts have been all over the map on this one. Part of me wonders if this is a logical consequence of so many Christians denying marriage the status of a sacrament all these years, and really, to pose the question is to answer it. For us, this decision is a great disaster but I can just imagine the adjustment for members of other Christian denominations. Due to the state permitting divorce we have long thought of Catholic marriage as something different than state marriage….but imagine those who could with legitimacy believe that the state and Church were on the same page on this topic. For us the decision is another step in the deconstruction of Christendom that began in 1517. Perhaps the decision will allow us to come to greater consensus among Christians at least as to what marriage is, and perhaps, what a vocation is.

    Meanwhile, the primary concern and the way that we can be touched will be through a denial of tax exempt status. Fortunately, I believe that this determination should ultimately be determined by Congress…but it may be prudent for us to talk to our representatives to get them to pass legislation expressly stating that no executive order can make this determination. In general, if we want a more sympathetic determination we should steer the decisions towards the Congress and away from the President and the Courts (Courts…being made up of attorneys will lean toward the left of the population.) Legislation should reflect that. I can sum up my reactions this way: strengthen the Church, weaken and restrain the state.

  25. Prayerful says:

    The Jesuits now are very old men and utterly liberal. I doubt there are a dozen with their natural hair colour. While correlation is not causation, it has to be something that the liberal an order the older and fewer its members. The sjw wing of the Church is very much limping along with a zimmer frame. Perhaps the Holy Ghost has something to do with it.

  26. Michael H says:

    Thanks everyone for your very helpful answers to the question I posted.

  27. maryh says:

    “Actually, I find the mirror image of that to be more apropos. No issue brings out so much hatred from so many homosexuals as Catholicism.”

    To Larry and others. I would like to suggest we be very careful about how we use our terms. Our opposition are not homosexuals, they are people who are redefining marriage, which of necessity includes more heterosexuals than homosexuals.

    Not all homosexuals / people with ssa want to redefine marriage nor are they all celebrating the Supreme Court decision. But you can be sure they’re keeping their heads low.

    If you want to use a term, I rather like Father Z’s term of “homosexualist”.

    When you post here, please write as if there are ssa people reading this blog who are Catholic or at least believe in the natural law, because I am certain there are. We are the natural allies of all people with ssa for many reasons. Let’s not fall for the homosexualist lie that we are the enemy of the ssa.

  28. The Masked Chicken says:

    Hey, Maryh, long time no hear from. Hope things are well.

    You raise the very correct point that anyone who celebrates O v. H is, basically, poorly formed in rational thinking, be they Catholic, Christian, or pagan. Chastity is normative before marriage and applies to all people, regardless of their sexual attractions. The condition which allowed for the O v. H ruling to get any traction was the breakdown in chastity which came from the introduction of The Pill. Any informed Catholic would understand that chastity is a form of authentic love, in itself, as it reverences the rights of God over His creatures, but, of course, liberal theologians have redefined God into an amorphous blob of our own self-gratifying projections, so those who reject chastity and claim to love God are lovers of the Blob God.

    These people refuse to believe that despite life being hard and distorted by sin, God loves them in the mess. They refuse to accept the love God has for them in whatever condition life gives them, be it a sexual difference, or some other condition, so they invent some other God to love them that treats their condition as if it did not exist. The people pushing the homosexualist agenda are, basically, idolators. More than that, they can’t believe that God’s love is so powerful that it reaches beyond any of life’s problems. In a word, they don’t understand the Cross. That is the definitive characteristic of those pushing the homosexualist agenda. All they are doing, in the long run, is running away from their Cross. Life hurts, sometimes, and we all have our own purgatories, but to know that there is a God so loving and so tender, but so powerful, on the other side of our problems makes suffering them for Him all worthwhile. Anyone can love when things are easy, but true love is shown when the loving is hard. Homosexualists want an easy love. Christ came to show us a different way and why it is is so important to choose that narrow way. We are witnessing, before our very eyes, two construction groups working next to each other with an enormous chasm between them: those constructing a wide road of self-gratification and those constructing a narrow road of love of God and neighbor. Oh, if only the homosexuals knew that love that satisfies every heart – that love that is Love. They would turn chaste, overnight. We can argue with them until we are blue in the face, but until they know That Love, we will not have won a brother or sister for Christ. Sometimes, I get the impression that some people are afraid to be loved and they use sex as an excuse to hide their fear.

    Well, too much philosophizing while on a moving bus.

    Maryh, send me an e-mail when you get the chance. I want to catch up.

    The Chicken

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