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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Same-sex marriage is currently legal in 36 states plus the District of Columbia, support for marriage equality is growing nationwide, and a historic Supreme Court ruling that could force states to grant or recognize same-sex marriages is imminent.

Despite that, Republican lawmakers in some states are currently cooking up a variety of ways to circumvent such a ruling and to legally perpetuate marriage inequality. Here are just a few.


Earlier this year, Republicans in the Texas legislature circulated a bill that would prevent state and local officials from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The session, which ended June 1, was stalled by supporters in the House, mostly Democrats, who were able to let the clock run out before the bill could be voted on.


Alabama has done more than any other state to resist the federal court rulings on this issue, according to Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond School of Law professor who has tracked this issue. After the Supreme Court upheld a federal judge’s order that struck down the state’s same-sex marriage ban, many of Alabama’s judges vowed to fight it.

One of those is Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore. According to, “Moore argues no federal court — not even the U.S. Supreme Court — has the authority to reinvent the definition of words, such as ‘family’ and ‘marriage,’ for a state.”

Moore’s fine with ignoring rulings from higher courts. He’s ordered judges to not give out licenses for same-sex couples.

Other judges in Alabama, in order to get around the ruling on discrimination grounds, say they just won’t issue marriage licenses to anyone – straight or gay. This resembles a tactic used in Virginia in the 1960s, when rather than comply with a federal order to desegregate public schools, segregationists merely had them closed.

Opponents of these workarounds are afraid that Alabama will slide backward and become known as a place for intolerance – thereby losing people and talent to more progressive places.

Regardless, depending on the outcome of the Supreme Court decision, legal maneuvers are likely to continue.

North Carolina

North Carolina passed a law last week – overriding Governor Pat McCory’s veto – that follows a similar path. Court officials who cite a “sincerely held religious exemption” will recuse themselves from performing “marriage responsibilities” for both heterosexual and homosexual couples for at least six months.

Some lawmakers believe this is the fairest – and least discriminatory way – to deal with a contentious issue that divides public officials, judges, and citizens.

Utah passed a similar bill this year.


Governor Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act passed by the Republican legislature, which allows business owners to refuse service to others based on religious grounds.

When the law was passed earlier this year, protest erupted. Connecticut’s governor vowed the state wouldn’t pay for lawmakers to travel there. The NCAA – and Miley Cyrus — weighed in. And a pizza parlor became a national lightning rod when it announced it wouldn’t cater a gay wedding.

Opponents—including the mayor of Indianapolis, the state’s largest city—have spoken out, warning that it could be seen as discriminatory, and voiced similar objections to those in Alabama: They don’t want Indiana to be seen as an intolerant place, and could lose economic and cultural capital because of the law.


Michigan didn’t enact a law per se against same-sex couples — the state just allowed adoption agencies to refuse on religious grounds to place children with homosexual couples. Similar to the laws in Indiana and North Carolina, the bill doesn’t refer to same-sex couples specifically but uses general language that is meant to cover several kinds of religious exemptions.

Photo: People are fighting over the right for this to happen. Amy Schubert via Flickr

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  • charleo1

    For me, issues such as marriage equality, school desegregation, national healthcare, and legalized abortion. Even though abortion effects a far smaller number of Americans. All seem to be asking the same question as we once fought a terrible Civil War attempting to answer. Are we one Country? Or are we a loose association of confederated, semi- autonomous States? That may, by their own various methods create their own, even intentionally unequal societies? In a sort of, that’s the way we do things down here! Didn’t they tell you this is a free country, kind of mentality. That has at various times required Presidents to send armed troops into States to enforce Federal Law, or Supreme Court’s rulings on the tenets of the Constitution itself. From the Whiskey Rebellion, to the Little Rock Nine. Presidents since G. Washington have been enforcing, or administering Federal Laws, as is their job. Unifying the Union by uniformity. And at times, attempting to lead a Nation that simply refuses to be lead. So are we one Nation, or not? On a practical level, if my job sends me from Philadelphia to Atlanta, will I, or my family lose some of my equal treatment guarantees, if I’m Black? What are my Son’s Rights in Albuquerque, if he’s Gay? Or in Tucson, if I’m Latino? If my wife has trouble in the delivery room, will the doctor in State X, be regulated by the State to save the unborn first? Would my wife have survived if we had lived in State Y, or been or out of the Country entirely? Is our Canadian marriage recognized in Utah, if I’m Hindu, and she is Muslim? If the magistrate refuses to issue a marriage license in Arkansas, and so we travel to Missouri for the license. Is it any good in Arkansas? Or will they arrest us one day for illegal cohabitation? And, is this any way to run a Country? Good grief!

    • lucimar2

      I agree with you completely. And I would just like to add that this nation was founded on the absolute separation of church and state. This is NOT a Christian, Hindu, or Muslim nation. It is a religion free country. Any state that does not support this idea should be allowed and encouraged to leave the union. Most of the states that use religion to guide there bigoted, racist, sexist decision-making are burdens to the rest of us economically and intellectually.

  • FireBaron

    “Opponents of these workarounds are afraid that Alabama will slide
    backward and become known as a place for intolerance – thereby losing
    people and talent to more progressive places.” Excuse me, but we are talking about Alabama here – the “Cradle of the Confederacy” as they are so proud in claiming. They backed the losers 154 years ago, and appear to be doing the same today.
    All five of these states are going to face a major constitutional challenge in their attempts to circumvent the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. Then again, Texas, Alabama and North Carolina have a long history of doing so, and folks tend to forget that there were more KKK members in Indiana and Michigan separately then there were in the other three states combined!

  • Carolyn1520

    There’s a PBS documentary by Independent Lens called “Limited Partnership”.
    It’s the story of two gay men who fell in love in 1971 and their battle.I don’t want to tell you much more and spoil it, other than it’s a love story for the ages.
    If those who oppose same sex marriage watch this and their hearts aren’t changed by it , then I doubt there is much hope for them in terms of their humanity, compassion and empathy.

  • Theo McKinney


    If Woman A, has been living in a committed household with her soul mate Woman B for 30 years, Antigays claim Woman A has no constitutional right to marry her soul mate.

    Simply because Woman A does not have a penis.

    Antigays insist that no other requirement is necessary for her to exercise her constitutional right to marry the law-abiding partner of her choice but to have a penis that she neither possesses, nor wants to possess. Ever.

    Nor can Woman B marry woman A, even though they are in a committed love relationship of many more years than most str8 “marriages” tend to last.


    Enter Man C, just out of prison for battering his second wife: Antigays say he may be left free to exercise his constitutional right to marry Woman A, OR Woman B, and divorce and marry others as often as he’d like, if given the chance.

    Unlike the marriage rights of Woman A & B, which Antigays seem intent on trampling, Man C’s marriage rights remain 100% intact, because he is heterosexual, and he presumably has a penis.

    For this and no other reason, he may exercise the precise civil right, that Woman A is being denied. Because he has a penis, and she does not.

    That, is illegal discrimination 101: marriage bans are not surviving federal court scrutiny now, and cannot ever be expected to survive any future legal scrutiny under oath, in a court of law, no matter how much “chikin” a selection of Antigays are willing to stand in line and wait for or how many “faithful” get bussed into D.C. for the day.

    *Mysterious Ways*, notwithstanding. (And, ironically, no proponent will ever prove standing to take their illegal ban all the way to SCOTUS in the cases to come…)

    (today’s fad of illegal “constitutional” marriage bans is guaranteed to get GUTTED by a US constitution that contains NO language whatsoever that supports irrational “law” making based solely in animus and very little else of civic value.)

    And America will become “more American”, for it.


  • Phxflyer

    Red states. The stupidity is strong there.