Well, if gay people are allowed to get legally married to one another in Oklahoma then no one will be allowed to get legally married. So there. Haha. Gotcha.
That seems to be the ridiculous playground mentality of state Rep. Todd Russ, a Cordell Republican, and 66 of his fellow legislators in the Oklahoma House of Representatives who voted last week to essentially end the marriage-license process in Oklahoma.
House Bill 1125 passed on a 67-24 vote last week. The bill was written for discriminatory purposes, it’s sexist, it’s unconstitutional, it could open up unintended possibilities, including the denial of federal rights and benefits for married couples, and it’s another embarrassment for a state right now in the glaring national spotlight for an ugly act of racism on the SAE hate bus.
HB 1125 is another deliberate act of bigotry that is getting widespread national attention. Fittingly, the bill is so confusing, it might actually help solidify same-sex marriage in Oklahoma, but its intention and possible consequences render that a moot point.
The bill would abolish the marriage license process in Oklahoma and replace it with marriage certificates that would be filed with the government AFTER a clergy member or anyone allowed by law to perform marriages does so. So county clerks or the government would still be involved in marriage regulation, but in a rather ambiguous and unsure manner.
Russ, who has made it clear the bill reflects his stance against same-sex marriage, has been obfuscating with the media about his reasoning behind the legislation. He says the state’s county clerks are caught in some type of “middle” when it comes to same-sex marriage, which is now legal in Oklahoma. What that middle is seems very vague. Is it that they don’t want to issue marriage licenses to same-sex partners? That appears to be Russ’s argument. Oh those poor, poor county clerks. So which clerks and employees in their offices don’t want to do issue marriage licenses to same-sex partners? I want to see the list.
Never mind. See, these clerks and their employees have to issue the licenses. That’s the law. They would have to file the certificates after the marriage so what’s the point? What does Oklahoma County Clerk Carolynn Caudill think about all this?
Here are some obvious problems with the bill. (1) It would put into jeopardy or at least confusion the legality of marriage in Oklahoma. (2) It’s inherently sexist because mothers and children might not have protection or could wind up with less protection under the law. (3) The federal government and other states might not recognize the certificates as binding, and thus everything from filing “married” and claiming dependent children on tax returns to moving away from this bigotry to California could get extremely complicated.
All for those poor county clerks caught in the muddle or do I mean middle? This bill is a joke, right? No, folks, it is an actual bill that passed that Oklahoma House of Representatives as the state pretty much made the national television news each night last week for its bus of bigotry.
Russ blusters, “Marriage was historically a religious covenant first and a government-recognized contract second. Under my bill, the state is not allowing or disallowing same-sex marriage. It is simply leaving it up to the clergy.”
There are plenty of Oklahoma clergy members and other people who can legally perform marriages that will marry same-sex couples, which makes Russ and those legislators who voted for the bill seem terribly petty and bigoted.
And, yes, the government eventually became involved in the marriage licensing process for a number of reasons, including the legal protection of dependent children. In addition, marriage licensing in Western culture has been around at least since the fourteenth-century in England. Prior to licensing there were marriage banns, which was the public announcement of a marriage. Even churches long ago recognized the “public” side of marriage.
If signed into law, it will be ruled unconstitutional by courts just based on its intention and its violation of the Establishment and Equal Protection clauses in the U.S. Constitution. How much will that lawsuit cost taxpayers?