On November 25, 2014, Federal Judge Reeves struck down Mississippi’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.
That’s pretty much how every story about the decision starts.
I probably should have started by calling Hell, Michigan, and asking what the temperature was.
I haven’t finished reading the transcript, which, incidentally, can be found here, but it’s pretty much what I expected: Mississippi’s Constitutional Amendment has been found unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution.
The Clarion Ledger said, “Others, like Forest Thigpen, president of the Mississippi Center for Public Policy, derided the decision as tyranny against the will of state voters who in 2004 overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage” and then “‘We have reached this point where the voice of the people and their elected representatives doesn’t matter,’ Thigpen said in a statement” (1).
Cause, you know, state law supersedes federal law. Cause Mississippi.
To be honest, I’m surprised he went on record saying that, especially since there’s apparently a “2011 survey that found that nearly half of Mississippi Republicans still oppose interracial marriage (2)”.
Mississippi doesn’t exactly have a pristine voting record for laws that benefit the people of Mississippi, gay or not, and it definitely doesn’t have a model record for equal rights.
The odd thing is, I don’t have a proverbial dog in this fight. I don’t identify as gay, and I have zero interest in marriage. And yet, time and time again, I argued that denying gay folks marryin’ privileges (that’s Southern speak, y’all), is staunchly unconstitutional. If marriage is a right, (which I truly believe it is), then you can’t grant rights to one segment of the population and not others, especially when there is a plethora of rights conferred with the right of marriage.
Perhaps it’s because I just love this picture. (Source: midnightmanifesto.tumblr.com )
Perhaps it’s because I’ve seen how gay people are treated in Mississippi, and the vocal opposition to “the gay agenda.” Twenty years ago, there were stories in the paper that told of kids being killed because people thought they were gay.
Perhaps because the repeated argument against same-sex marriage is that it’s immoral and a sin, and I don’t think religion has a place in government. Morality is a construct, and not all religions believe it’s a sin. To place one religious code above another, regardless of its majority, is to establish a religion in a sense.
When the news posted to Facebook, comments, predictably, went wild. The overturning of the people-approved ban was Obama’s fault. It was akin to a meth infestation. It was against the Bible.
I’m not really sure how aligning one’s judgment with legal precedents, based on the US Constitution, is Obama’s fault, and I’m really not seeing how it’s anything like a meth infestation. But the Biblical argument throws me for an even bigger loop. The standard comment I read (in comments, on bumper stickers, in marketing campaigns) is that marriage = one man + one woman.
Except, I guess, for King David, ordained by God, who had hundreds of wives. Or his son Solomon, who had many, many wives.
And the Leviticus argument has been beaten to death, most beautifully by arguments like this picture. (Source: http://www.buzzfeed.com/mjs538/man-tattoos-leviticus-1822-that-forbids-homosexua )
On a tattoo, which is forbidden in Leviticus 19:28, “You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks on you: I am the LORD.”
Perhaps because I have gay friends with long time partners, and I worry what would happen to the survivor when dealing with disapproving family members, like what happened to Shane when Tom died.
Perhaps because I know that legal recognition is just a step–albeit an important one–to acceptance and unity.
Perhaps I just have an abiding affection for the underdog.
Or perhaps I just haven’t lost my idealism after all.