Tag Archives: 14th Amendment

Feds aren't seeking to create 'moral standard'

Here’s a shocker: The Texas Legislature and its Republican super-majority in the House of Representatives is likely to consider legislation that blocks any effort to lift the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

OK, it’s not a shocker. I was kidding.

State Rep. Cecil Bell, R-Magnolia, has filed House Bill 623 that would prevent the federal courts or the Congress from legalizing same-sex marriage.


According to the Texas Tribune: “The federal government is trying to act to create moral standards, and that’s just not acceptable,” Bell said.

Let’s hold on for a moment.

I do not believe the feds are seeking to “create moral standards” with court rulings striking down same-sex marriage laws in several states. The impetus behind the rulings — in every instance — has been the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment, which grants full rights of citizenship to every American citizen. Full rights of citizenship means that every American is guaranteed “equal protection” under the law.

That means, quite clearly, that if you love someone who happens to be of the same sex as you, the Constitution gives you the right — as a citizen — to marry that individual, just as any citizen is able to marry someone of the opposite gender.

The Tribune reports: “The bill also requires state courts to dismiss legal actions that challenge a provision of the bill and award legal costs and attorney fees to the defendants. Citing the 11th Amendment, which gives states sovereign immunity, the bill also says the state isn’t subject to a lawsuit for complying with the act — regardless of a contradictory federal ruling.”

But wait, says a gay-rights group. Again, from the Tribune: “Daniel Williams, a legislative specialist for the gay rights group Equality Texas, said the bill would go against legal precedent.

“’This bill is retreading very well-established precedent here. In 1869, the U.S. Supreme Court decided in Texas v. White that no, Texas does may not ignore federal law whenever it wants,’ Williams said. ‘Beyond it ignoring federal law, it would actually punish state employees who follow the law.’”

The setting of a “moral standard” is not at issue here. Adhering to federal law is what’s at stake.

Gay marriage on its way … to Texas?

Do you ever feel as though you’re swimming against a tide that keeps getting stronger while it sucks the energy out of your efforts to fight it?

That’s how I’m feeling with this gay marriage issue.

I’m still grappling with the notion that it’s all right for people of the same sex to marry each other. I’m a traditionalist and my own values make it hard for me to embrace the idea of same-sex marriage as being the same as the marriage I have enjoyed for the past 43-plus years.

OK, I’ve laid down that marker.

I also understand what the law says, what’s in the U.S. Constitution and how all Americans are guaranteed equal protection under the law. Thus, it appears that states’ bans on gay marriage appear doomed.

That notion I will accept.

Florida has just begun allowing same-sex couples to marry. Federal judges — those damn “unelected judges,” in the eyes of conservatives — keep overturning state bans on same-sex marriage. A federal judge in Texas has ruled that our state’s ban — written into the Texas Constitution — violates the federal Constitution’s equal protection clause stated in the 14th Amendment. It grants full rights of citizenship to anyone born in the United States with zero regard to that people’s sexual orientation.

All of this makes perfect sense to me. If the states are governed by a federal framework — the Constitution — then the states are obligated to obey the rules set down within that framework.

Does any of this mean that all Americans must embrace the idea of same-sex partners getting married? Honestly, no.

All it means to me is that the law is the law and that states cannot impose their own laws that supersede the Constitution of the United States of America.

That includes bans on same-sex marriage.

I can feel that tide of political and cultural change getting stronger all the time.


Same-sex marriage tide has turned

The currents have turned in favor of same-sex marriage.

Who knows? It well might be accepted as part of the “new normal” in this country, if the courts continue to have their way.


One by one, state bans on same-sex marriage are falling victim to that little ol’ provision in the U.S. Constitution that protects people’s “equal protection of the laws.”

It’s in the 14th Amendment. It’s one small clause in one small sentence. It resonates loudly in appellate courtrooms all across the country.

Even the U.S. Supreme Court — that bastion of “strict construction” arguments of the U.S. Constitution — has ruled that the federal government must recognized state-sanctioned same-sex marriage. Texas has joined the parade of states that are awaiting final disposition of this argument.

I remain on the fence on this issue. The term “marriage,” to me at least, carries a traditional connotation in that it involves the union of a man and a woman.

Having noted that, I am not going to condemn anyone who wants to marry someone of the same sex. It’s not my call to determine who people should love. I’ll let the government sort it out. I’ll continue to live my traditional life in marriage to a woman I married 43 years ago. And I will let others live as they choose.

Furthermore, none of these court rulings puts my marriage in any danger. It will survive quite nicely and I am sure it will continue to grow and flourish without any threat from whatever the courts continue to rule.

Tradition and belief systems aside, though, the Constitution does appear to stand in favor of all Americans regardless of their orientation. If it says that all Americans must not be deprived “equal protection” under the law, that it means all Americans. There’s not a word in that clause that mentions their sexual orientation.

“All” means all, yes?

States' rights or federal authority over marriage?

The debate over same-sex marriage keeps roiling.

I continue to straddle the fence on whether to endorse the notion of full “marriage” for same-sex couples, even though my view of it is “evolving” toward favoring it. I do understand the reason that federal courts are tossing out states’ prohibitions against same-sex couples tying the knot, as in getting married.

The argument against the courts getting involved usually centers on states’ rights. Foes of same-sex marriage — or “marriage equality,” as proponents call it — keep harping on a misconstrued notion that since sexual orientation isn’t mentioned specifically in the U.S. Constitution that judges have no jurisdiction or legal standing to comment on these issues.

The latest such contention came from an editorial published Sunday in my local newspaper, the Amarillo Globe-News. “The 14th Amendment (read it) does not specifically mention marriage — gay or straight,” the editorial notes. OK, I then read the amendment, for the umpteenth time. Here’s part of what it says: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States …” It goes on at the end of that section to say states cannot “deny any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

No, the amendment doesn’t mention gay marriage. I’d bet some serious dough, however, that the founders deliberately intended to include all citizens regardless of any orientation — sexual or religious, to name just two — under the equal protection clause. Gay couples are seeking to be recognized as being equally entitled to all the rights guaranteed straight couples. That’s a fairly uncomplicated proposal. I’m quite certain the U.S. Constitution covers it nicely in that pesky 14th Amendment.

Texas’s state constitutional amendment “abridges” those rights, a federal court judge has ruled. The ruling is under appeal. Gay marriage isn’t legal in Texas, at least not yet.

This curious argument by foes of “marriage equality” that states’ rights trump the U.S. Constitution on issues not delineated by the founders doesn’t hold up under scrutiny.

I’m guessing the surest way for those who oppose same-sex marriage to have the practice banned entirely in this country is to campaign for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that supersedes the 14th Amendment.

Good luck with that. A majority of Americans now favors same-sex marriage.

Me? I’m still grappling with it.

Texas gay-marriage ban struck down

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.