Was there ever any doubt that the federal judiciary would catch up with Texas’s ban on same-sex marriage?
It did so in equally conservative states such as Oklahoma and Utah. Now it has happened in Texas.
The sea change is now lapping at our front door.
U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia struck down the same-sex marriage ban — which voters approved by an overwhelming majority in a 2005 election to amend the Texas Constitution. Garcia ruled in favor of a gay couple that wanted to be married in Texas, but couldn’t given the state’s prohibition.
The ruling has been put on hold pending a sure-fire appeal by the state. Gov. Rick Perry vows to fight the ruling, as will Attorney General Greg Abbott (who wants to be the next governor).
It seems increasingly inevitable that the federal courts are going to uphold citizens’ rights, under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, to “equal protection of the laws.” By “equal,” gay-rights advocates and their political allies argue persuasively that bans on gay citizens’ right to marry the person they love deprives them of the rights of full citizenship granted to them by the Constitution.
Governors such as Perry, however, argue that the 10th Amendment carries greater weight, that the states have the constitutional right to enact their own laws that aren’t in direct conflict with federal law.
Let’s have this debate.
Setting aside my own personal qualms about redefining the term marriage — which my American Heritage Dictionary says is “The legal union of a man and a woman as husband and wife” — I totally understand why this issue is turning the nation upside-down.
Judges are looking at this issue from a constitutional standpoint and determining that the Constitution is unambiguous about who gets all the rights of citizenship. There cannot be a separate standard for people of certain sexual orientations. In a way that I am still trying to understand more clearly in my head and my heart, I get how the judges are ruling on this matter.
What’s more, the radio talk-show blowhards and others on the right and far right should not even try to suggest that we elect the federal judiciary, or that we put term limits on these individuals, or that we somehow water down the power of presidents to appoint these jurists. The system works just fine the way it’s set up. Leave it alone and debate these issues on their merits.
So now the fight has come to Texas. The state is going to take this matter to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Stay tuned. This fight is going to get very interesting.