Friday, September 6, 2013

Trying to revive the spirit of George Wallace

The states of Texas and Mississippi have decided that the 14th Amendment just doesn't apply to them when it comes to recognizing same-sex marriage. Despite a Pentagon directive that the National Guard units in the states extend benefits to same-sex spouses in the wake of the Supreme Court's decision in the DOMA case, someone in Texas decided to ignore it.

Officials cited the definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman found in the Texas Constitution as justification for denying equal protection to the spouses of same-sex marriages. Maj. John Nichols did tell those affected by the decision that they could apply for benefits at federal installations and that the Texas National Guard would not deny them benefits.

This is precisely the issue I wrote about some time back regarding the inevitability of the legalization of same-sex marriage. These acts of defiance by Texas and Mississippi bring into question whether same-sex spouses are being treated the same as traditional spouses.

Forcing same-sex couples to apply for benefits at a federal installation discriminates against same-sex couples as they are being required to do more to obtain the benefits they are legally entitled to receive. All that remains is for one couple to refuse to bow down and then walk over to the courthouse to file suit alleging that their civil rights were violated.

From the Dallas Morning News:
Pentagon officials said Texas appeared to be the only state with a total ban on processing applications from gay and lesbian couples. Spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen said federal officials will process all applications from same-sex couples with a marriage certificate from a state where it is legal. 
Alicia Butler said she was turned away from the Texas Military Forces headquarters in Austin early Tuesday and advised to get her ID card at Fort Hood, an Army post 90 miles away. She married her spouse - an Iraq war veteran - in California in 2009, and they have a 5-month-old child. 
"It's so petty. It's not like it's going to stop us from registering or stop us from marrying. It's a pointed way of saying, 'We don't like you," Butler said. 
She said she was concerned the state would withhold survivor benefits if something happened to her wife while she was activated on state duty rather than on federal deployment.
It is a violation of the Equal Protection Clause for a state to recognize the out-of-state marriages of some of their residents while not recognizing those of others - particularly since the only reason is the sexual orientation of those involved.

The leaders of both Texas and Mississippi should be ashamed of themselves. Being seen as supportive of same-sex marriage may not be a vote-getter in either state, but guaranteeing equal protection under the law to the citizenry should trump base politics. Of course we all know that the State of Mississippi has a pretty abysmal record when it comes to equal rights. We also know that the establishment (white) churches played a large role in defending segregation in the 1960's. The circle of good ol' boys who have run Mississippi for generations is slowly, but surely, coming to an end and they are doing everything they can to cling to power for as long as possible.

The right wing in this country (and others) have long used religion as their justification for fighting the extension of equal rights to the populace. That great opiate of the masses has been very effective in keeping the oppressors in power.

These western fundamentalists are every bit as wrong as their Islamic fundamentalist cousins in, and around, the Middle East. I find it very amusing to listen to the wingnuts express their hatred for those who would advocate theocracy in other parts of the world while they do their best to build a theocracy at home.

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