The Texas’ GOP brass is looking a like more the Dixiecrats of the Civil Rights era, more George Wallace than Abe Lincoln.
I’ve noticed lately those who are the loudest about telling people they should know their history seem to know very little truth of it. They speak about removing symbols of a divided nation from official government buildings like it is equivalent to erasing the past. Apparently this observation is not anecdotal, as the Washington Post found that, “White support for the Confederate flag really is about racism, not Southern heritage.”
The Supreme Court decision on same gender marriage proves that many of those same divisive sentiments are very much alive and well. Stories of top government officials not advising local authorities to implement the ruling of our nation’s Constitutional interpreters are not relegated to the pages of a history book, but can also be found in today’s headlines.
Texas’ Attorney General Ken Paxton has said he will do, “everything [he]can from this office to be a public voice,” for county clerks who want to deny same gender marriage licenses, but that oh yea it’s, “important to note that any clerk who wishes to defend their religious objections and who chooses not to issue licenses may well face litigation and/or a fine.”
A real opportunity at leadership was missed, and with it came lawsuits and lone ranger county clerks who were empowered to self-interpret the law, or what parts of their jobs they actually had to perform. Some actually referred to the lack of direction from the Governor and AG as being “thrown under the bus.”
Across the state, elected officials are opting out including in the Jefferson County where one Democrat Justice of the Peace and 2 former Democrats turned Republican JPs have confirmed they will not be issuing marriage licenses at all.
Luckily, there were some conservative religious officials who took their oath of office seriously like Denton County Clerk Juli Luke. She said, “Personally, same-sex marriage is in contradiction to my faith and belief that marriage is between one man and one woman…However, first and foremost, I took an oath on my family Bible to uphold the law and as an elected public official my personal belief cannot prevent me from issuing the licenses as required.”
That is the message that should have resonated from the highest seats of power in Texas. Same gender marriage is the law of the land, and doesn’t deny anyone religious liberty. Of course you wouldn’t know that from the reaction of the state’s GOP leaders, who have vowed to push for more redundant religious protection laws.
The Right’s deep paranoia and need for constant affirmation by the state is a symptom of fear mongering and conjures up images of desegregation. In 1959 in Prince Edward County, Virginia they chose to close schools rather than integrate them, and when that was ruled unconstitutional they chose to eliminate the compulsory school law altogether. In 2015 the Texas legislature heard a bill that would have defunded county clerk’s offices who followed the Supreme Court’s ruling, and it was more popular than you might imagine.
Texas Democrats must embrace the Supreme Court’s decision as a victory. It may not have come through popular elections, but we are on the right side of history and our ideals are on right the side of freedom. Trumpeting your own liberty doesn’t, give anyone the right to trample on another’s.
— Brooks Egerton (@brooksegerton) July 1, 2015
Our elected officials must implement the law or step aside and let someone else who will. That seems to be the general consensus of the 4th estate. Take this list released today from the Texas Democratic Party:
Texas Democratic Party Deputy Executive Director Manny Garcia issued the following statement:
“Texas Republicans are vying to be the George Wallace of our generation, obstructing the exercise of equal rights. Just as Governor Wallace resisted the racial integration of schools in Alabama, Abbott, Patrick, and Paxton now resists today’s progress towards marriage equality.
“Governor Abbott, Lt. Governor Patrick, and Attorney General Ken Paxton: Respect your fellow Texans. Let these loving couples marry. Love is love.”
Texas Monthly’s Paul Burka: Out of Step (And Falling Behind)
“Paxton is willing to play the role of George Wallace when it comes to same-sex marriage. It’s not going to work. No doubt the rest of our leaders will go along, but all it will do is make Texas look ridiculous in the eyes of the rest of the country. There are few things more isolating than to be on the wrong side of history.” [Texas Monthly, June 29, 2015]
Austin American-Statesman Editorial Board: Paxton’s gay marriage opinion irresponsible
“Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s irresponsible opinion that county clerks can forego their obligations to the United States Constitution and refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples based on religious objections amounts to a government encouragement of discrimination that places personal religious views over the law.” [Austin American-Statesman, June 29, 2015]
Dallas Morning News Editorial Board: Public servants’ religious beliefs do not trump same-sex couples’ rights
“The exercise of free religious belief ends at government employees’ office doors. Texas leaders gain nothing by introducing confusion and erecting discriminatory loopholes now that the Supreme Court has made clear where it stands. Same-sex marriage is indisputably the law of the land.” [Dallas Morning News, June 29, 2015]
The Herald-Zeitung’s Chris Lykins: Abbott repeating history’s errors
“Governor Abbott is just the latest in a long line of people who are willing to tell someone else that they can’t have the rights that he has.”
“And like those who came before him, Abbott will lose.”
“Governor Wallace was forced to comply. Governor Abbott will be forced to as well.” [The Herald-Zeitung, June 27, 2015]
Denton Record-Chronicle Editorial Board: Law of the land abides
“Taxpayers shouldn’t have to foot legal bills for unnecessary lawsuits just because a Republican county or state official is worried about getting elected in a future primary race.
Don’t we have more important fish to fry — improving education, health care, the economy, achieving energy independence, safeguarding our air and water?” [Denton Record-Chronicle, June 27, 2015]