Texas GOP’s terrible reaction to gay marriage ruling

Published 10:26 pm Friday, July 10, 2015

When confronted with startling events, I find it best to take a beat, exhale, and remind myself that whatever happens, my dog loves me and football season is almost here. Not so with Texas Republicans, who reacted to the Supreme Court’s shocking decision to treat gay folks just like regular Americans with the kind of apocalyptic histrionics one normally hears from street-corner preachers who’ve been left in the August sun for too long.

Calling the Supreme Court decision a “direct assault on the 10th Amendment and the sovereignty of Texas,” the Texas House Republican Caucus issued something that was less a policy statement than a rambling manifesto one usually finds on the laptop of an unhinged individual after he’s done something horrible, which in this case is not far off.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who is apparently a lawyer, struck his best George Wallace pose when he tweeted, “Marriage was defined by God. No man can redefine it. We will defend our religious liberties.”

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His protege Ted Cruz, who has argued before the Supreme Court enough times to know better, called the decision to allow two people who share the same things in their swimsuit areas to get married tantamount to “liberal intolerance and fascism.”

But then he one-upped himself: “Today is some of the darkest 24 hours in our nation’s history,” he said about the span of time from the Supreme Court’s decision on Obamacare to the ruling legalizing same-sex marriage.

Yes, letting gay people get married is just as bad as 9/11, Pearl Harbor, and the British setting the White House on fire, and Justice Anthony Kennedy is surely no different than Joe Stalin or Saddam Hussein. The Battle of Antietam has nothing on letting gays and lesbians get married. That’s not a sunset. It’s the sky filling with the blood of the innocent as you sip the margarita of the self-righteous.

Dumb is doing land-rush business in Texas since gay couples got permission to go stand in line at the county courthouse just like the rest of us. Some day, it’ll be fun to read these quotes out loud and watch today’s Texas Republicans try to insist that they never really meant it the way it sounded and that we are taking them out of context.

Until then, though, we have to deal with the wrongheaded notion the issuance of a government certificate is an expression of religious faith. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton thinks that public servants have a religious freedom to withhold government services from some people, a legal opinion that makes we want to confirm that Paxton went to law school.

Let’s make this simple: The Post Office has to deliver the mail to you even if you’re a Muslim, Christian, or Yankee fan. Hindus and Jews work alongside Christians to cut Social Security checks, fill potholes, and collect taxes. We’re not done yet, but our journey towards a future in which we are all equal under the law makes us a more perfect union. We hold these things to be self-evident. I read that somewhere.

What the government can’t do is treat different classes of people differently than another, such as providing water fountains for straight people and other water fountains for the gays. Government is not a restaurant. Clerks do not reserve the right to refuse service to certain people because it would otherwise offend what they insist are religious convictions but look more like political beliefs.

Paxton also said, “Texas must speak with one voice against this lawlessness.” Finally, we agree on something. Texas Republicans don’t have to like gay marriage, and there are some who never will just as there are those who still oppose mixed-race marriages, bless their hearts.

But if you insist that an expansion of freedom for all limits your religious freedom, if your faith can only be expressed by a government that limits individual liberty, then I’d advise you to take a beat, exhale and remind yourself that if we can survive the Civil War, then we can survive gays and lesbians getting old and boring together, too.

It’ll be OK, I promise. Now do your jobs.

Jason Stanford is a regular contributor to the Austin American-Statesman, a Democratic consultant and a Truman National Security Project partner.