Tag Archives: gay marriage

Oh, boy … let’s watch this clerk’s race

Kim Davis is going to seek re-election as county clerk in Rowan County, Ky.

Big deal, you say? Sure it is. Here’s why.

Rowan is the county clerk who made a big-time name for herself after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2015 to legalize gay marriage in all 50 of our states. It declared that the 14th Amendment’s “equal protection clause” meant that gay couples are entitled to be married because they are entitled to equal protection under the law.

Davis didn’t agree with that. She said that her religious beliefs wouldn’t allow her to sign off on marriage certificates involving gay couples. The court told her to do her job; she refused and then spent a few days in the slammer on a contempt of court charge. The issue was resolved when the courts ruled Davis didn’t have to sign the certificates, but could allow her deputies to do so.

During all that tumult, Davis changed her party affiliation from Democrat to Republican. So now she wants to be re-elected to a second term.

I normally wouldn’t give a royal rat’s rear end about Kim Davis, except that I spent a good bit of time on this blog commenting on how she violated the oath of office she took.

It’s that oath — and her violation of it — that make her unfit for re-election.

This campaign under normal circumstances wouldn’t command any attention outside of Rowan County. It will, because Davis made such a spectacle of herself by protesting the high court’s decision on gay marriage.

Davis took an oath office to defend and protect the U.S. Constitution and to obey the law of the land. She failed to do her job by injecting religion into a secular political office. The oath she took doesn’t allow her to use her faith as a dodge.

That is how her political opponent ought to frame his or her campaign against her.

So, with that Kim Davis is going to run for re-election. I should resist the urge to follow how this will play out.

But I won’t.

Remember the time Kim Davis … you know?

Someone out there has brought back an earlier episode involving politics in the workplace, so I’ll just jump on that horse and ride it briefly here.

Kim Davis is the Rowan County (Ky.) clerk who once defied a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that declared that gay marriage is a protected right under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

She said her religious beliefs wouldn’t permit her to issue marriage license to gay couples. She violated the oath of her office; she had vowed to obey the Constitution and, you know, follow the law of the land.

She brought her personal political beliefs into the workplace. Bad, Kim … bad!

So now there’s some argument being kicked around in social media about those pro football players who are doing that very thing. They’re bringing their politics into their workplace, which happens to be on a field surrounded by tens of thousands of paying fans and millions more of them watching them do their jobs on television.

Some of those players are “taking a knee” when “The Star-Spangled Banner” is sung before games. Others are locking arms with teammates. Critics of this practice say that the athletes are acting inappropriately by politicizing their profession, not to mention that they’re “disrespecting the Constitution,” which I believe is a ludicrous assertion.

I’ll stipulate once more that I am not pleased by the nature of the protests by pro football players. I wish they had found another way to protest against police brutality against African-Americans, which is the initial reason for the protests.

That all said, if it’s OK — in the minds of many Americans — for Kim Davis, who serves the public in a public office, to bring her political beliefs into her workplace, why is it not OK for pro football players to do the same thing?

Republicans join Democrats in disarray

Republicans and Democrats have plenty of things of common. Both parties say they love America; they both say they want what’s best for the country … and they both are in a state of utter confusion and chaos.

Democratic disarray became evident when Hillary Rodham Clinton lost a presidential race in 2016 that she should have won handily. The party is still trying to find its footing moving toward the 2020 presidential campaign.

Now, though, the Republicans have exhibited signs of political schizophrenia. Down yonder in Alabama, the GOP this week nominated a true-blue lunatic as their candidate for the U.S. Senate; GOP nominee Roy Moore is poised to likely win the Senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions, when he became U.S. attorney general.

Get a load of this: GOP primary voters picked Moore over Sen. Luther Strange, who was appointed to serve in the seat and who had been endorsed by Donald J. Trump, the nation’s Republican in chief.

I know that “lunatic” is a strong term to hang on a politician, but I think Moore fits the bill — politically speaking, of course. He served as ‘Bama’s Supreme Court chief justice but got into trouble twice with the state’s judicial ethics agency, first for refusing to remove a Ten Commandments display from public property and then for encouraging county clerks to disobey federal law after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage.

Just the other day he pulled a pistol out of his pocket — in front of a large political rally crowd — to show his support for the Second Amendment and he has said that “homosexual activity” should be deemed an illegal act.

As my dear late Mom would say, the guy is “nuttier than a fruitcake.” 

Moore’s nomination is giving Republican Party establishment types all sorts of heartburn, headaches, apoplexy … not to mention paroxysms of panic.

The president says he’ll campaign all-out for Moore’s election. I am wondering if that means he’ll forgo statements such as when he showed up in Alabama this past week and said he “might have made a mistake” by endorsing Sen. Strange.

This is the guy who’ll keep the WH stories straight?

Anthony Scaramucci has a law degree and a pretty hefty financial pedigree.

Somehow, though, he got himself appointed White House communications director over the vehement objections of former press secretary Sean Spicer.

As I scanned Scaramucci’s record, I got a glimpse into what might have prompted Spicer to quit after Donald Trump installed Scaramucci as communications director.

“Mooch,” as he is known, seems to have had trouble keeping his own stories straight.

He is known to support gay marriage and strong gun-control laws, two issues that are anathema to Donald Trump’s political “base.” He once raised money for Democratic presidential candidate Barack H. Obama. Mooch backed Scott Walker and then Jeb Bush in the 2016 Republican primary and then threw in with Trump’s transition after the president was elected.

He’s also said some highly critical things about Trump.

I must ask: This is the individual who is going to put the White House “on message” and seek to avoid the missteps, mistakes and misstatements that have poured out of Trump administration?

Chaos, meet confusion.

Who’d ever thought we’d reach this point?

WASHINGTON — I’ve witnessed plenty in my lifetime: an erupting volcano, a Ku Klux Klan rally, returning to where I served in a time of war.

I was able to knock another experience off my list of things I thought I’d never see: I got to watch a gay pride extravaganza in the nation’s capital.

My first — and most profound — takeaway was this: An event such as what we saw could not have been possible a generation ago. It speaks to the changes in attitude, culture, social mores that have swept across the country.

I was told the gay pride activities were “tame” compared to how they used to be. Every one of the thousands of people I saw along the many streets we walked was fully clothed. I saw plenty of rainbow colors. People’s hair was dyed in the colors of “Gay Pride.” They were festooned in rainbow-colored clothing. They were lugging signs, selling trinkets of assorted value.

I saw lots of smiles on a gorgeous day under a bright late spring sun.

Who in the world could have foreseen events such this a generation ago, perhaps even a decade ago.

I guess we can thank the U.S. Supreme Court for delivering millions of Americans from a form of purgatory when it ruled that under the 14th Amendment’s “equal protection clause” that gay marriage is therefore legal in all 50 states of this great nation.

But here’s another aspect of what I heard about the gay pride activities taking place in this most political place in America: Corporate and, yes, church endorsement helped make it mainstream. Think about that for just a moment. Gay pride events no longer are the sole province of radicals and extremists intending to shake up “the establishment.” The establishment has signed on.

So the parade took place. The capital was alive with celebration along block after block around the corridors of political power. I was there to witness it.

It was cool.

‘Ayatollah of Alabama’ seeks U.S. Senate seat

This ought to be fun to watch, even if it’s occurring way over yonder in Alabama.

The state has a vacant U.S. Senate seat, now that Jeff Sessions is serving as attorney general of the United States. That means the state has to conduct a special election to fill the seat.

A fellow named Roy Moore has just entered the contest.

Moore is the suspended Alabama Supreme Court chief justice who got himself into a jam because he told county clerks in his state that they didn’t have to abide by federal law and approve marriage licenses for gay couples.

Oops. Can’t do that!

Now he wants to run for the Senate. Why does this matter to people outside of Alabama? Well, if this guy is elected it means he’ll take part in making law for the rest of us. That includes those of us in the Texas Panhandle.

Moore is a fiery conservative. He once refused to remove a Ten Commandments tablet from the court grounds in Montgomery, Ala. He disagreed with decisions that the tablet violated the First Amendment rule prohibiting government sanctioning of religion.

“My position has always been God first, family, then country,” the Republican Moore said while announcing his candidacy for the Senate. OK, he’s a man of deep faith. I understand it. I have faith in God, too.

The Southern Poverty Law Center — which routinely battles with the judge over his rulings — calls Moore the “Ayatollah of Alabama.”

However, here’s the kicker: The oath he would take as a senator is a good bit like the one he took as a judge; it commits him to be faithful to the laws of the land, the U.S. Constitution, which — if you’ll pardon the pun — is the Bible of secular documents.

All I can assure anyone, though, is that the special election in Alabama is bound to be a hoot.

We’re about to see how it will affect the rest of the country.

What’s with this Texas Senate gay marriage recusal nonsense?

Why do Texas Senate Republicans insist on making ridiculous statements about gay marriage?

The state Senate has approved a measure — with all GOP members and one Democrat joining them — that allows county clerks to recuse themselves from signing off on marriage licenses for gay couples.

Senate Bill 522, authored by Sen. Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury, allows county commissioners courts to appoint someone other than the county clerk to sign such a marriage license if the county clerk objects on religious grounds.

As the Texas Tribune reports: “It ‘guarantees county clerks and every American the free exercise of religion even when they are working for the government,’ Birdwell told his colleagues on Tuesday.”

Huh? Senate Democrats are perplexed at this. Why? Because current state law already allows county clerks to deputize an employee to carry out that duty.

What about the oath of office?

County clerks are entitled to follow their religious faith. I get that. Here is what I do not understand: I do not understand how they can place their hand on a Bible or some other holy book and then pledge to follow the laws of the land and uphold the U.S. Constitution.

I now shall refer to the U.S. Supreme Court, which in 2015 ruled that the equal protection clause of the Constitution guarantees the right of gay couples to marry. That means, if I understand this correctly, that gay marriage is now legal in all 50 states, which would require county clerks to perform the duties of their public office.

SB 522 now allows county clerks and judges to discriminate against people on the basis of their sexual orientation. Sure, they can cite their own religious objection. Existing state law, though, already allows them to step aside and hand the marriage license issuance duty to someone else.

Which brings me back to my original question: Why is the Texas Senate enacting legislation for which there is no need?

Texas Senate deciding whether to defy U.S. Supreme Court

I cannot believe the Texas Senate is considering a bill such as the one it is considering.

Senators are debating whether to allow county clerks to deny gay couples a marriage license.

Let’s see. How is this supposed to work?

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled two years ago in a landmark decision that gay marriage is protected under the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution. It ruled that every state in the country should allow same-sex couples to marry, which requires them to obtain the legal documentation necessary to become married — just as straight couples are required to do.

The highest court in the nation — to which Texas belongs — ruled that gay marriage is legal.

County clerks, thus, are required to obey the oath they take to honor the laws of the land. Isn’t that right? A handful of county clerks quit their posts rather than perform the duties required of them as a result of the court ruling. Those who remain, though, must fulfill the oath they take — regardless, it seems to me, of their own religious conviction.

Amarillo straddles a border separating Randall and Potter counties. Renee Calhoun and Julie Smith, who serve as county clerks in Randall and Potter counties, respectively, both declared they would issue licenses to gay couples who requested them.

Given the political nature of this discussion, I feel compelled to note that both Calhoun and Smith are Republicans. A healthy majority of Republicans are inclined to oppose gay marriage as a matter of principle, relying on their belief in biblical assertions that marriage should be performed only between one man and one woman.

To my way of thinking, there shouldn’t even be a bill considered in the Texas Legislature that would give county clerks an “out” if they chose to deny gay couples a license to marry.

The Supreme Court of the United States, acting as the final arbiter on these constitutional matters, has decided the issue once and for all. Gay marriage is legal and county clerks ought to be required to do the job to which they swore an oath to perform faithfully.

I must stipulate that they swear their allegiance to the Constitution, as secular a governing document as any ever enacted.

One last hope for Justice Gorsuch

I am going to reveal my own bias — once again — but here goes anyway.

Neil Gorsuch is going to become the next U.S. Supreme Court justice on Monday. The U.S. Senate confirmed him in a mostly partisan vote.

Donald Trump promised to select a conservative justice for the court and he delivered on his promise.

Fine. Trump is the president and he has the right to select anyone he wants.

Gorsuch’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee was filled with the usual stuff that court nominees say, which is they cannot comment on issues that might come before the court. His reticence satisfied Senate Republicans and frustrated Senate Democrats.

He did, though, suggest that Roe v. Wade — the landmark 1973 decision that legalized abortion — essentially is “settled law.” He also said the president never asked him if he’d vote to overturn the ruling, adding that had Trump done so, that he (Gorsuch) would “have walked out of the room.”

My hope for the new justice is that he becomes more of an independent thinker than his critics believe he’ll be. There’s plenty of precedent on the Supreme Court for justices becoming something other than the presidents who appoint them had hoped.

President Eisenhower selected Chief Justice Earl Warren and William Brennan, both of whom became liberal stalwarts on the court; President Nixon selected Justice Harry Blackmun, who then wrote the Roe opinion in January 1973; President Ford selected Justice John Paul Stevens, who then joined the liberal ranks on the high court; President George W. Bush selected Chief Justice John Roberts, who then voted to preserve the Affordable Care Act.

No one should seek to predict how the new justice will comport himself on the court. Some, though, have done so. I am not nearly learned enough in matters of law to make such a prediction.

I do have my hope … and my bias that drives it.

Hold on! Court balance won’t change

All this hyperventilating over Donald Trump’s choice for the U.S. Supreme Court is making me dizzy.

The president tonight brought out Neil Gorsuch, a judge on the 10th Circuit of Appeals, as his nominee for the nation’s highest court.

He’s a conservative, just as Trump promised. He is a “strict constitutional constructionist,” again as Trump vowed. He’s also a disciple of the late Justice Antonin Scalia, as Trump pledged.

Now we’re hearing talk about the “nuclear option” that Senate Democrats might employ to stop Gorsuch’s confirmation. They’ll oppose this fellow, seemingly as payback for the shabby treatment Senate Republicans leveled against President Obama’s choice to succeed Obama. Remember that? Senate GOPers said within hours of Scalia’s death that they would block anyone the president nominated. Obama selected Merrick Garland and the Senate didn’t even give him a hearing and a vote.

Let’s take a deep breath here.

I want to make a couple of points.

One, I detest the notion of Donald Trump nominating anyone to the court. But he won the presidency without my vote. He won enough electoral votes to take the oath of office. Thus, he earned the right to choose anyone he wants.

Gorsuch isn’t my kind of justice. But someone else is the president.

Two, the ideological balance of the U.S. Supreme Court is not going to change when — or if — Gorsuch is confirmed. Scalia was a conservative icon. He was a heroic figure among political conservatives. Placing another judicial conservative on the high court restores the court’s narrow 5-4 conservative bent.

I feel compelled to note that the court — with that narrow conservative majority — made two decisions that riled conservatives, um, bigly. It upheld the Affordable Care Act and it declared same-sex marriage to be legal under the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause.

Would a Justice Gorsuch change that equation? I don’t see it. A nominee to succeed, say, one of the liberals on the court would most assuredly prompt a titanic political battle … as it should.

None of this will matter, of course, to Senate Democrats who are enraged at the president over many — seemingly countless — issues. His behavior in the first 10 days of his presidency, culminating with his firing of an acting attorney general over her refusal to defend Trump’s paranoid refugee ban, has angered Democrats to their core.

Thus, the fight is on.

It pains me to acknowledge it, but I must. Donald Trump vowed to nominate someone from a list of 20 or so jurists he revealed during his campaign. He has delivered on his pledge.

Judge Gorsuch isn’t to my liking. Moreover, my candidate lost. The other guy won. As they say, elections do have consequences.