Have you heard about the latest court ruling regarding same-sex marriage rights in the United States?
If you haven’t, chances are you will. In the ridiculously numbered 302nd Family District Court of Dallas, Judge Tena Callahan ruled the voter-approved ban of same-sex marriage is unconstitutional for violating the principle of equal protection under the law. The whole case is not a solid step that one would hope for. What was at stake was not a same-sex couple seeking marriage, but a same-sex couple seeking divorce. By allowing the divorce, Callahan essentially declared that same-sex marriage can and does exist. That is the strange thing about divorce – you have to be married first for it to happen.
You can imagine the fever this may cause. In a state such as Texas, where the political tides run river-of-Hades red, politicians are clamoring to be the first to denounce and discredit the legal actors (or in American rhetoric terms, ‘activist judges’) involved in this case. Factor in the high-profile Republican gubernatorial primary, the standing of the court where the ruling took place, and the that the consequences were unanticipated by the plaintiffs, then you have a political cause du jour. Oh, and the lawyer, the plaintiff, and the judge in the ruling, well, they don’t want this to parlay this into a crusade for gay marriage. The plaintiff’s lawyer, Peter Schulte, cautions us to “not confuse the issues…this is not about gay marriage, this is about gay divorce.” Judge Callahan cautions in her one-page ruling that her decision is “on the limited issue” of whether Texas courts can grant divorces to couples legally married in other jurisdictions. The voters of Texas didn’t want it, the politicians of Texas don’t want to support it, and the legal actors responsible for this possible legal milestone don’t want anything to do with it.
What’s next in this case? Well, the Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is intervening is what he dubs as a “constitutional attack,” filing an appeal. The court it may end up in? That would be the Texas Supreme Court, whose judges the governor appoints to lifetime terms. Just so happens that all judges are partisan affiliated. That partisan makeup? Eight Republicans out of eight judges.
Viewing the legalization of gay marriage in the United States comes with a degree of bittersweet amusement. As a Canadian and a former Texan, following the arduous appeals process in an attempt to win marriage rights within any state contrasts to relative, emphasis on relative, ease that Canadian same-sex marriage was legalized.
It is disheartening to see what might be a potential line of legal precedent is being fought so half-heartedly, but not above believability. Texas is a monstrous, rickety, campy theme park of a land. It is easier to rationalize any sadness regarding the likely outcome of these events with this mind. After all, Texas is the only place a person can wear a cowboy hat and be taken with any pinch of seriousness. It may even rationalize our last president, our webcams surveilling the US-Mexico border, and our penchant for being comedically overweight.
Canada, enjoy the humo(u)r that is Texas.