This is the second part of my blog post, Of The Union and of Unions.
On 26 June and the week following you couldn’t go anywhere online without seeing rainbows. I, along with many people who I know, found it absolutely exhilarating and beautiful. But there were quite a few who just don’t see rainbows as beautiful. What a shame.
The United States Supreme Court ruled, in Obergefell v. Hodges, that the denial or recognition of same-sex couples to marry was unconstitutional at the state level. It violated the due process and the equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Which basically means, same-sex couples have every right to marry and individual states can no longer deny them of this.
A huge and very worthy victory, indeed. Though I am not a fan of marriage myself, or of romantic love, it is a thing that most humans desire. If that is what they wish, then absolutely yes I think they should be able to marry or have romantic love without persecution. Though, I do think there are other issues that, are perhaps, more pressing.
Though one can now legally get hitched, there are lacking protections in the areas of job or housing discrimination towards the LGBT community. Several of the states that do include protections have limited protections or do not protect transgendered or gender non-conforming. Not to mention that right before this current ruling, the North Carolina legislature has passed Senate Bill 2. It basically means that North Carolina Magistrates can refuse to issue marriage licenses to anyone if it goes against their personal religious beliefs.
And while a huge number of people are beyond thrilled with this current Supreme Court ruling, I have had to read about a lot of people who do not. One that baffles me is Alabama. The Federal Court ruled in February that Alabama would issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The Alabama Supreme Court Justice, Roy Moore, said not to. After the 26 July ruling he equated The Supreme Courts ruling as worse than upholding segregation in the 19th century, ordered licenses to not be issued, then a few days later basically complied with the ruling. If anyone is a bit confused about that, Alabama is under a different Circuit Court than Mississippi. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals encompasses Georgia, Florida, and Alabama. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals encompasses Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Most people assume that all of the south is the same thing. If Alabama is ruled to allow same-sex marriage, why not Mississippi? That is why. Different Circuit Courts.
But it’s weird to me that the ruling was met with such opposition in Alabama, yet they have an openly gay representative, Patricia Todd, whom they have voted in three times. She even voices that she supports LGBT rights, why she does, and in January was wanting to out representatives who are against LGBT rights that have extra marital affairs. I’m thinking Alabama doesn’t really understand the term, “openly gay” or that they might be in denial that they keep voting a lesbian into office. I think it’s terrific, though I’m wondering at the hypocrisy of Alabama citizens.
It might be explained, as per the ridiculous notion that my own mother has, where basically gay people are fine and dandy; they shouldn’t be discriminated against. But wanting to get married is crossing the line. Marriage is between a man and a woman only. (yes, I do in fact roll my eyes when my mother brings this up)
I don’t really understand that “logic”. You can’t “like” gay people and be accepting of them and think they shouldn’t be discriminated against, and then throw out a but. It doesn’t work like that. They are either people, afforded the same rights as all people, or you don’t see them as people at all. So, which is it mom… and also Alabama?
Even in my home state of Mississippi things are not so cheery. While Amber Himlton and Annice Smith were the first same-sex couple to obtain their marriage licenses and to be married at the Forrest Co. Courthouse, in my home city of Hattiesburg, mere minutes after The Supreme Courts decision was handed down, the State Attorney General, Jim Hood, was telling everyone that it wasn’t the law yet in the state (which is untrue since the Supreme Court out-trumps the 5th Circuit Court any day). I’m happy to report that a lot of counties basically disregarded Hoods statement and kept issuing licenses. As a side note, no one is saying why Laurel natives were in Hattiesburg to obtain licenses, but if I know Laurel (and I’m pretty sure that I do), a same-sex, interracial couple would not go over well there.
Wait, I figured that instead of mere speculation on my part, I should do a bit of research. I wasn’t really wrong. Hate-filled backlash over same-sex couple marriage in February. I am actually very surprised, in a good way, that the Laurel-Leader Call even ran the article, or that they stood by it. But I’m not surprised by the back-lash. There are no mentions of how Laurel, or Jones County, residents feel about interracial couples, but I’m sure it hasn’t changed much.
Though many people in my state are glad of the decision, the representatives are not. I know people will say, “you voted them in, it’s your fault.” The man I voted to be governor can’t even manage a small city, but he was the lesser of two evils compared to who did become our governor, Phil Bryant. He is opposed to any community that is not white, hetero and Baptist, so he certainly doesn’t speak for the Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, Atheist or Agnostic communities, much less the LGBT community, here in the state. He does not want women to have access to abortions and keeps trying to shut down the last clinic in the state. He basically thinks women should be forced to be baby making machines. He doesn’t like minorities. He thinks Christian rights are being persecuted. It’s not like this information came out after he was elected into office, it was all there while he was trying to get elected. There’s fear-mongering going on and people buy into it, even if they don’t already hate what he hates. He’s a terrible person.
Because of the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage he is making this is new personal crusade to over-turn any way that he can. Directly after the ruling they were thinking about not issuing any marriage licenses at all. I’m hoping they won’t take a page from North Carolina, though I am sure if they can weasel it, they probably will.
Here is what the ridiculous representatives of my state had to say about the ruling.
Governor Phil Bryant:
“Throughout history, states have had the authority to regulate marriage within their borders. Today, a federal court has usurped that right to self-governance and has mandated that states must comply with federal marriage standards—standards that are out of step with the wishes of many in the United States and that are certainly out of step with the majority of Mississippians.”
Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves:
In 2014, “Mississippi continues to change in ways its people could not anticipate even 10 years ago,” Reeves said. “Allowing same-sex couples to marry, however, presents no harm to anyone. At the very least, it has the potential to support families and provide stability for children. This court joins the vast majority of federal courts to conclude that same-sex couples and the children they raise are equal before the law.” but then went on to state practically the same thing he would state after The Supreme Courts ruling.
In 2015: “The overreach of the federal government during the Obama presidency has now officially expanded from the Executive to the Judicial branch. For the second day in a row, the SCOTUS by a narrow margin has decided that the federal government’s powers should no longer be limited to those enumerated in our Constitution.”
Attorney General Jim Hood:
“The Supreme Court’s decision is not immediately effective in Mississippi. It will become effective in Mississippi and circuit clerks will be required to issue same-sex marriage licenses when the 5th Circuit lifts the stay of Judge Reeves’ order. This could come quickly or may take several days. The 5th Circuit might also choose not to lift the stay and instead issue an order which could take considerably longer before it becomes effective.”
There are also elected officials for Forrest and Lamar Counties who are dropping out of the local election races because they are strongly opposed to the ruling. Good riddance, I say!
But it isn’t all bad news in the Magnolia state. While there are opposers, there are embracers; there are changers. Gay and Straight alliances who have been fighting and are continuing to fight for LGBT equality in this state. These people are still fighting for women’s rights, migrants rights, Indigenous peoples rights, Religious freedom, African-American rights, Interracial couple rights. None of these battles are far from over, but we’re here. We are not a small number as the state officials would have you think, and we’re not giving up.