Echoing the shameful defiance of another Alabama ideologue, Governor George Wallace, Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore has responded to the denial of Federal Courts and The Supreme Court to allow restrictions against gay marriage by essentially declaring, “Homophobia today, Homophobia tomorrow, Homophobia forever!”
Moore states that the Supreme Court has no jurisdiction over the state’s right to keep discriminative laws against gay marriage in place.
Moore’s resemblance to Wallace in his campaign for segregation is very striking. Both justified their hateful prejudices as moral and democratic imperatives, they warned of terrible consequences that would come from not sustaining their bigotry and they both made sweeping, dictatorial-styled edicts over the state to follow their orders.
Moore wrote a letter to all probate judges, who in Arkansas are the ones who issue marriage licenses, that they must follow his instructions to ignore the Supreme Court and federal courts and continue to deny marriage licenses to gay couples. He hides behind the facade of trying to uphold the separation of rights between states and the federal government but anyone familiar with what a right wing religious zealot Moore is, knows that following the law isn’t his primary concern.
Moore was removed as Chief Justice in Alabama in 2003 after refusing a US district court order to remove the two and a half ton 10 Commandments monument from the state courthouse, then too refusing to recognize the authority of federal courts. However, because in Alabama, the position of Supreme Court Chief Justice is a political position, elected instead of appointed as is done in most other states, Moore was re-elected in 2012 back into the same position he was morally and professionally unqualified to hold previously.
As is the case in every state, there are smart, principled and enlightened people in Alabama but apparently, they make up a minority of voters. The majority of voters there seem determined to try and resist joining the majority of the U.S. in the 21st century and somehow think they can remain rooted in the 20th and even 19th centuries when it comes to religiously-justified bigotry.
Moore may have accomplished a slight delay in some cases, various probate judges are disregarding Moore’s edict but only in a minority of districts in Alabama (maybe 25%?).
One simple reason that Moore’s belligerence will soon be moot is that when the Supreme Court eventually rules against this type of discriminatory law Alabama has put in place, as it is expoected to do in the coming months, it will do so by affirming that such a law is unconstitutional. A state law can’t exist in force when it violates the U.S. Constitution…as the conflicts against George Wallace’s similar defiance against equal civil rights for African Americans illustrated.
The days of homophobes using state laws to oppress citizens are numbered thanks to the accelerated judicial and state proposition driven acceptance of marriage equality but the very disappointing thing is that gay rights are leaping over racial equality in becoming enshrined in state law.
Perhaps once marriage equality is affirmed as the law of the land in every state, the activists who have devoted so much energy towards that may re-direct their energies to support those other minorities facing similar oppressive and prejudicial laws such as Voter ID.
In fighting against those in power who seek to restrict the power and rights of those who aren’t conservative, white, male heterosexuals, we’re all in this together.