Yesterday a federal judge brought marriage equality to Oklahoma, considered by some to be the buckle of the Bible Belt. (More)
Squirrels aren’t big on the Bible (it’s too heavy) or belts (we don’t need them) and we’re not big on religion. We teach our kids about the Mighty Macadamia, in pretty much the same way humans teach about the Flying Spaghetti Monster, Santa Claus, or the Easter Bunny. Still, this morning I sat up, puffed my cheeks and raised my front paws in the traditional offering of thanks to the Mighty Macadamia as I saw the news out of Oklahoma:
A federal judge in Oklahoma ruled Tuesday that the state’s constitutional amendment barring same-sex marriage violated the federal Constitution, the latest in a string of legal victories for gay rights and one that occurred in the heart of the Bible Belt.
The state’s ban on marriage by gay and lesbian couples is “an arbitrary, irrational exclusion of just one class of Oklahoma citizens from a governmental benefit,” wrote Judge Terence C. Kern of United States District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma, in Tulsa, deciding a case that had languished for nine years. The amendment, he said, is based on “moral disapproval” and does not advance the state’s asserted interests in promoting heterosexual marriage or the welfare of children.
Judge Kern has come to the conclusion that so many have before him – that the fundamental equality of lesbian and gay couples is guaranteed by the United States Constitution. With last year’s historic victories at the Supreme Court guiding the way, it is clear that we are on a path to full and equal citizenship for all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans. Equality is not just for the coasts anymore, and today’s news from Oklahoma shows that time has come for fairness and dignity to reach every American in all 50 states.
Needless to say, Oklahoma Republicans were less delighted:
In statements issued late Tuesday, U.S. Reps. Markwayne Mullin and Jim Bridenstine both were opposed to Kern’s decision. Mullin called it “disappointing” and “unfortunate.”
“Our constitution protects the sovereignty of states, and with today’s ruling, that right has clearly been violated,” said Mullin, a Republican who represents Oklahoma’s 2nd District. Oklahomans overwhelmingly “voted nearly a decade ago to define in our state’s constitution that marriage is between one man and one woman. Unfortunately we have yet again witnessed the voices of the governed being disregarded.”
Bridenstine, who represents the 1st District, which includes Tulsa, said Kern didn’t follow the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, “which recognizes that powers not delegated to the federal government are retained by the states and the people.”
Bridenstine went on to say that “a federal judge has no place to dictate the terms of marriage in Oklahoma. The state constitution overrides a federal judge’s personal opinion.”
Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt called the decision “troubling.” He issued a statement saying the case most likely will end up at the U.S. Supreme Court.
Maybe these “constitutionalists” missed the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause:
No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. [Emphasis added]
Simply, no, no, the Constitution does not allow give states a ‘sovereign’ right to forbid any marriage they don’t like. Not even if a majority of voters agree. Not even in the Bible Belt.
So if you’re feeling religious, this is a good morning to puff out your cheeks, lift up your arms, and chitter in thanksgiving to Her EmEminess.
Good day and good nuts.