Standing in the School House Doors (2015 Same-Sex Marriage Edition)
Do you recognize this picture?
This is a 1963 photo of Alabama Gov. George Wallace, standing in a school house door in order to live up to his campaign slogan of “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever”. What was going on? A federal judge had ordered the integration of the University of Alabama, and Gov. Wallace refused to allow African American students to enter the school. Here is another photo of Gov. Wallace which seems appropriate given the events of the last ten days or so:
Today, in 2015, in southern states, government officials, much like George Wallace in 1963, are claiming a right to refuse to honor the order of a federal court. In 1963, the court was a federal district court and the issue was racial segregation. In 2015, the court is the Supreme Court of the United States and the issue is same-sex marriage and the Equal Protection clause of the 14th Amendment. In both cases, we have elected state officials who argue that they don’t have to recognize or follow federal court rulings or who are advocating a form of civil disobedience by government officials.
It seems almost inconceivable that more than 50 years after Gov. Wallace defied a federal court until the National Guard forced him to move aside, state officials in Texas and, once again, Alabama, are refusing to honor the ruling of federal courts. Yet this is the heritage of hate. It is heritage of hate that once (and perhaps still) targeted African Americans and which now takes aim at the LGBT community. It is a hate that uses religion (well, the portions of religion that support the hate) as an explanation and the cry of “state’s rights!” as the legal framework. It is a heritage of hate that believes that “religious liberty” is a weapon to be used to against minorities. And in 2015, it is a heritage of hate that is being used against those who want to express love.
(Time is short at the moment, so I’m not going to do a deep dive on the issues that this post raises. Depending on how events transpire, I may return to these issues when I get back from vacation. In the meantime, please read my post “Marriage Licenses and Adoptions: The Newest Targets of Religious Freedom Laws” (published two weeks ago) in which I discuss North Carolina’s new law that purports to allow state officials to refuse to perform marriages on the basis of the official’s religious objections, just as the Texas Attorney General now claims that state officials can ignore the Supreme Court’s ruling on religious grounds.)