The endless hissy fits over marriage equality by religious conservatives and the politicians who pander to them just won’t end. As we edge closer and closer to a decision by the Supreme Court which is expected to end discrimination against same-sex couples across the United States, state lawmakers are scrambling to find other ways to keep marriage rights confined to heterosexuals only.
In Colorado yesterday, two bills that would have protected businesses that refused services to gay people from lawsuits were shot down by the House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee, but in other states, legislation designed to allow discrimination has advanced and some may even be signed into law.
In Oklahoma, a law has passed the House that would make it much harder for same-sex couples to get married, despite a federal judge overturning the state’s ban last year. From News9.com:
The Oklahoma House has approved legislation that shifts the issuance of marriage licenses from the state to members of the clergy.
House members voted 67-24 for the measure Tuesday and sent it to the Senate for consideration.
The measure by Republican Rep. Todd Russ of Cordell would replace a state-issued marriage license with a clergy-issued marriage certificate.
Russ says it gets government out of the business of licensing marriage. Opponents say it is a reaction by lawmakers who disagree with a federal judge’s decision to overturn the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. (Source)
That’s right, Oklahoma lawmakers are so upset about marriage equality that they are proposing handing over a state function to a member of the clergy. Since the state has been told that they cannot discriminate when handing out marriage licenses, they’re going to send people who want to get married to members of the clergy, who can then refuse to perform a ceremony for religious reasons. In addition to this legislation almost certainly not surviving a court challenge if it is signed into law, it illustrates the absolute refusal of conservative politicians to let this issue go. They’re so blinded by religious bigotry and ideology that they’re perfectly willing to waste taxpayer money and lose state revenue from licenses, simply because the thought of a same-sex couple entering into a civil contract causes them to lose all sense of reason, or how to do their job as elected officials.
This isn’t just about eliminating what some people think is an unnecessary role of government – supporters of the bill openly admit that this is based on religious reasons, which could be further used to justify discrimination.
Supporters of HB 1125 said it fittingly removes the state from the marriage process. “Marriage was not instituted by government,” said Rep. Dennis Johnson, R-Duncan. “It was instituted by God. There is no reason for Oklahoma or any state to be involved in marriage.”
Johnson did allow, however, that the state does have an interest in preventing such things as incest, polygamy and marriage of minors. (Source)
The hypocrisy of his argument shows the lengths they’re willing to go to just to allow discrimination against same-sex couples – but the same Bible allows polygamy and the marriage of minors. Conservatives in Oklahoma and elsewhere are passing laws like this to use religion as a passive-aggressive way to deny rights guaranteed under the 14th Amendment, and it shows just how desperate they are to stop the inevitable march of marriage equality. Make no mistake, laws like this will be found unconstitutional – but then again, they only care about the Constitution when it suits them.
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