As the same-sex marriage juggernaut rolls along (26 state constitutional amendments/laws struck down since the 2013 DOMA ruling), several states have made efforts to hold it off, usually by invoking states rights. Some have been half-hearted attempts designed to placate social conservatives, while others have been a little more strenuous. But, none have been as energetic as Alabama’s.
Monday, a January 23rd federal court order went into effect granting Alabama citizens who are LGBTQ the same right to misery that straight couples have enjoyed for years. Also. on Monday, some Alabama leaders went batshit crazy about having to allow same-sex marriage, citing states rights as to why this was governmental overreach, judicial tyranny or any other stupid idea you might conjure up. As I said earlier, other states have made the same arguments, but none have done so quite as vociferously as Alabama. But, then, other states don’t have Roy Moore as chief justice of their Supreme Court.
If that name sounds familiar, it’s because you’ve heard of him before. Moore is known as the “Ten Commandments Judge” because, during his first term in office, he placed not one, but two, monuments containing the Ten Commandments in the Alabama Supreme Court building. Then, he proceeded to violate a federal court order by refusing to remove it. That refusal eventually cost him his job and he was removed from office in 2003. You might think that would be the end of the story. And, in any other part of the country, you’d most likely be right. But, this is the south and southerners have a thing for eccentrics. And, since Alabama is quite possibly the most “Southern” state in the Southland, the folks down there can’t help but love Moore, who’s an eccentric on steroids. So, what did they do? They re-elected him as chief justice in 2012. But, Moore learned his lesson, right? He’s not bucking this federal court decision with the same argument that got him fired 12 years ago, is he? I can’t believe you asked that.
Yes, beloved, Moore is staying true to form and fighting the “good fight”(if you can call standing behind codified discrimination “the good fight”) against the “evil” that is same-sex marriage. And, how is he doing that? By invoking, wait for it…, states rights. After an 11th hour appeal to the U. S. Supreme Court to stay the ruling was denied, he sent out a letter telling probate court judges they are not bound the federal court ruling. Now, if you’re not a southerner, you’re probably wondering why he’d use an argument that backfired so badly on him in the past. That’s because southerners love a lost cause. And, believe me, states rights fits the bill because we’ve already lost that fight. Twice.
The first loss came in the 1860’s: The War Between The States (aka The Civil War). What’s that, you thought that war was about slavery? Au contraire, mon frere (sorry, ladies, but soeur just doesn’t rhyme), that war was about states rights. Of course, one of the rights we were fighting about was the one that allowed us to own other people, but that’s beside the point. We believed in each state’s right to self-determination so much we picked a fight with our larger, more industrialized, better equipped neighbor. And, in the process, got our ass kicked. And, not just kicked, but ground into the dust. Now, normal folks would have learned a lesson from that, but not southerners. We’re not the kind of people who give up on an idea just because of a good shellacking, so we broke out states rights 100 years later when the feds decided that we were treating our neighbors who were black like second-class citizens (and saying “second-class citizens” is being gracious). Governors and legislators across the south invoked the “states rights” argument so often the term became synonymous with segregation. And, we all know how that turned out.
I would say it must take about 100 years for the memories of a sound thrashing to fade, but here we are half a century later, once again using the same losing argument to bolster morally bankrupt laws. Not only is that stupid, it’s exactly where you want to be as a Christian.
I made that last statement because Moore bases his opposition to same-sex marriage on his interpretation of the Christian faith. Now, I try not to tell others what to believe and if Brother Roy wants to believe that our LGBTQ brothers and sisters are somehow less deserving of the rights everyone else enjoys, that’s his business. But, using his office to deny them those rights is another story. Maybe, he ought to come up with an argument that’s not such a loser. At the very least, he could find one tied to a less odious history.