Gay Marriage Won't Undermine the Texas Constitution; its 483 Amendments Did That
Vic Holmes and Mark Phariss, the gay Plano couple suing to overturn Texas' ban on same-sex marriage, will be in San Antonio on Wednesday trying to convince a federal judge to allow their case to continue.
The battle lines are familiar by now. Gay marriage, proponents say, is a constitutionally protected right. Opponents point out that overturning the ban would subvert the will of Texas voters, who passed an amendment to the Texas Constitution outlawing same-sex unions in 2005.
From a legal standpoint, both positions are perfectly reasonable. Morally speaking, you know where you stand.
Still, it's worth addressing a particularly ludicrous bit of fear-mongering coming from Texas Values, the state lobbying arm of the religious right. Yesterday, President Jonathan Saenz sent out an email warning supporters that the state's most important political document is in grave danger:
The very survival of our Texas Constitution is at stake. That's an extreme claim, but I'm not overstating a word--the threat justifies alarm. A legal battering ram is smashing against the walls of our founding document, threatening a breach that would unleash a tide of liberal, politically-correct agendas to sweep away our most cherished freedoms.
You see, "gay marriage" is about way more than wedding rings and marriage licenses--even worse than a legal stamp of approval for homosexual relationships. Those are bad enough, but please see the total threat. If its definition of marriage can be treated like a soiled tissue to be discarded at will, then the Texas Constitution means nothing. Our rights as Texans will just be ink on some aging parchment.
Saenz then trots out various hypotheticals (churches sued for refusing to marry same-sex couples; bakers targeted for refusing to provide cakes for gay weddings; etc.) as proof of the disaster that a pro-gay marriage ruling on Wednesday will bring.
There's a problem with this argument, and it has nothing to do with the Freudian implications of Saenz's warning that recently gay-married Houston Mayor Annise Parker is "forc[ing] her lifestyle down your throat and mine." It's that the Texas Constitution is a joke.
Well, there's a lot of important stuff in there. But the notion that it's some sacrosanct piece of political literature, perfect and immutable, is absurd. It's been amended 483 times. It's also too long, was designed to address the challenges Texans face 138 years ago, and has deep structural flaws that hamper effective governance.
The worst the federal judge can do is invalidate one single amendment that's all of eight years old. In other words, no constitutions are at risk of destruction on Wednesday. Just the entire institution of marriage, a few souls and the very fabric of humanity.
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