Sweet Home Alabama: The Litmus Test of America

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“If a law is unjust, a man is not only right to disobey, he’s obligated to do so” – Thomas Jefferson

Since the story broke about the same-sex marriage fiasco in Alabama, my mind has been kind of in a frenzy. The story infuriates me on so many levels that I see red. I mean in 2015, the fact there were judges who were trying to justify not following the law because of personally held beliefs, knowing what all lawyers know, including myself, before you walk into your first law class:  a federal judge always trumps the almighty State Supreme Court Chief Justice on any given day of the week, until a higher authority tell the courts otherwise.

(ICYMI:  On January 23, 2015, a federal judge in Mobile struck down Alabama’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Then on February 10, 2015, the Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice instructed probate judges they didn’t have to follow the Federal Judges order.)

I would like to say as a lawyer, and a conservative, and a millennial. This action was wrong. It was wrong on so many levels. Not because I want to sit here and argue whether or same-sex marriage is right or wrong, I am not an advocate nor a critic,  but because a Federal court judge ruled as such, especially after the Supreme Court’s decision to not temporarily block the Federal Judge’s decision, and I’m not the only one.  “Judge Enslen, a lawyer for more than 40 years and a Republican, said he disagreed with the Supreme Court’s action but had to be guided by it. “Those seven justices went out of their way to slap Alabama,” he said, sending a message that they saw little chance of Judge Granade’s decision being reversed. “We’ve got the highest federal court siding with the District Court,” he said. “The ballgame’s over.” (source)

Many conservatives see it as the Federal court is budding in on a state’s issue, and that the state has clearly declared it as a constitutional amendment…. in 2006. Since 2006, the support of same-sex marriage has drastically changed across America, even in Alabama. In 2006, when the constitutional amendment passed, only 39% of people supported same-sex marriage nationally… let’s forward to 2014 people.

Gay Marriage Polls Support Oppose Undecided
Princeton Survey Research Associates/Pew Research Center  (2006) 39% 51% 10%
Pew Research Center (2014) 49% 41% 10%
Gallup poll (2014) 55% 42% 4%
Family Research Council (2014) 55% 39% 6%

(Source)

So things ARE changing, yet it doesn’t quite seem that way with the headlines in Alabama, or is it what they want us to believe? In my opinion, which I rarely give in my posts, we need to start having real conversations about the opposition to same-sex marriage, and not let the actions of a few people foolishly speak for the masses.  I started this blog to talk about things that nobody wants to talk about, but as I started blogging, it came very apparent why that is. If you start monitoring your viewer ratings you know what people want to read about, and the things they could care less about. So as a writer, you have to decide to be true to yourself or true to success…. and today, I choose the former.

Why is the refusal to issue marriage licenses so frustrating to me, because many conservatives cannot add to the conversation in a meaningful way. It is all or nothing.

Conservatives are not able to talk about gay rights, because for many, not all, any deviation from total utter and complete rejection of same-sex marriage, you will be going down the road of political suicide. Many younger conservatives, like myself, wish the older people in the party would just jump off a cliff (figuratively not literally) for a whole slew of reasons. But unfortunately, despite the uptick in voting among young people, older generations overwhelmingly outnumber us at the voting booths. (45% of ages 18-29 voting, 59.5 % of ages 30 – 44 voting, 72.0 % of ages 45 – 64 voting, and 67.9 % of ages 65 and older? (Source).

But if you looking at the national polling, even in good ole’ backward leaning Alabama, the numbers are still telling, “ 48 percent of Alabamians under 35 favor gay marriage—not a majority, but a plurality. (Only 21 percent of those older than 65 do.) The strongest predictor for supporting gay marriage nationwide, according to some experts, is having close gay friends, which is far more common among younger Americans.” (Source)

Maybe that’s why the first couple married, was from my Alma mater, Tuskegee University. Heck, even the Koch brothers support same-sex marriage. (If you believe them, they just think the economy is a more important issue, so they support candidates who oppose same-sex marriage).

So Thomas Jefferson is correct, if a law is unjust, you should not be required to follow it. Laws that have allowed same-sex marriage are not unjust. You do not have to agree with same-sex marriage for it to happen where you live. You do not have to support it, and if you feel like your salvation is doomed, because America is conducting same-sex marriage, maybe you should move out of America. Because imagine an America where some states allow same-sex marriage, and others do not allow same-sex marriage, oh wait, that is what we are living in now; a divided America. Will companies begin to move their offices based on marriage equality? Will people have to pick which state to live based on marriage equality?

America was built on certain freedoms, including the freedom of religion, not just your religion, or one religion. People ask how do I merge the two as a conservative. It’s not about what I believe. You might not see me out a gay pride parade, but I sure as heck ain’t not damning nobody to hell, or saying the wrath of God is going to come out against the State of Alabama now. (Thanks Alabama GOP chair for that one, you’re ridiculous). It’s about equality, and treating people as human beings.

I have worked in civil rights ever since I left law school, and over the years I have thought long and hard about the subject of same-sex marriage. While in law school, it was something that we debated all the time, because we have a friend who was gay, and another friend, who was much more staunchly a conservative than myself.  But at that time, I still hadn’t made it to the point where I am today. I was fortunate for a couple of years to work at a  Human Rights Commission in a small Indiana community to work very closely with the a couple of the gay rights organization there. They made this video that discussed growing up in that community being gay in a very conservative state and at times, the city.   Never had I heard such gut wrenching moments, and stories of triumph even remotely close to those of Blacks during the Jim Crow era. Or maybe I had never taken the time to listen. Hearing their struggles had a definite impact on me, and not because it changed my personal beliefs, but I realized in that moment, it is not up to me to judge or decide, and I have to be more than just “tolerant”. Nobody wants to be just tolerated.

Whether you do or you don’t believe in same-sex marriage, the right for them to marry is not to be based on your personal beliefs, if it is the law as according to the people of this country. Minds and thoughts are changing progressively towards same-sex marriage, what are you going to do when it happens?

M/P

 

Matthew 22: 15 – 22 (NKJV)

Then the Pharisees went and plotted how they might entangle Him (Jesus) in His talk. And they sent to Him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that You are true, and teach the way of God in truth; nor do You care about anyone, for You do not regard the person of men. Tell us, therefore, what do You think? Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?”

But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, “Why do you test Me, you hypocrites? Show Me the tax money.”

So they brought Him a denarius. And He said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?” They said to Him, “Caesar’s.”And He said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” When they had heard these words, they marveled, and left Him and went their way.

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