Banning straight marriage in Oklahoma

On  Feb. 9, 2014, the United States Justice department, headed by Attorney General Eric Holder, created a new policy which would give same-sex couples new, more equal rights under the law. Until this point, same-sex couples were prohibited from declining to testify against their spouse, as is the case for heterosexual couples. Additionally, homosexual federal inmates will be allowed visitation and correspondence from their spouses, escorted trips to a spouse’s funeral, and reduction of sentence (or compassionate release) after the incapacitation of a spouse. Same-sex couples will now be able to file bankruptcy jointly; former members of a same-sex couple can be obligated to pay alimony.

In an address to the Swedish parliament, Holder declared that the ruling “marked a major victory for the cause of equal protection under U.S. law, and a significant step forward for committed and loving couples throughout the country.” The announcement is meant to further true equality under the law in which “all men are created equal,” not just ones of a particular sexual preference.

At the same time, Oklahoma state representative Mike Turner (R) has proposed a bill which would ban marriage altogether. Turner contends the ban is the only way in which Oklahoma can constitutionally put an end to homosexual marriage after a recent ruling that a ban only on same-sex marriage violates the fourteenth amendment (which prohibits the government from denying any person equal protection under the law). Judge Terence C. Kern of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma wrote the ban was “an arbitrary, irrational exclusion of just one class of Oklahoma citizens from a governmental benefit.”

In attempts to navigate the ruling, Turner’s bill would illegalize all marriages. Many say Turner is “out of touch” with most Oklahomans for though Turner sees the proposal as solely moving to take the government out of marriage, many note the bill would lead many couples to live in sin, and in the Bible Belt, the threat of sin overshadows the “scourge” of homosexuality.

Though the Rubin Report may not be the best source of news, it does bring up an interesting point: is this ban on all marriage the only way to bring about equality for all couples- hetero and homosexual? Essentially, the bill would eliminate any opportunity for politicians to deny same-sex couples the right to wed and leave every marriage to the discretion of the religious organizations.

I understand that Turner’s bill is just “political posturing,” and his goal was never to actually pass the bill, but I still find the whole notion repulsive. Call me crazy, but I find it absolutely positively PREPOSTEROUS- and pathetic- that America continues to call a relationship lesser because of the genders of the people within it. And for Mike Turner to then further demean those relationships by saying that the only way to navigate around (in his view) the ridiculous equality the courts finally actualized was to ban straight marriage. It’s a sad excuse for a political stunt, Mr. Turner.

Although it gives me hope to see people like Eric Holder, in power, it gives me an equal sense of dread that politicians like Mike Turner exist as well. It just saddens me to see that in the land of the free and the home of the brave, we still imprison so many in thoughts of inferiority. That in the nation in which we seek to forge a “more perfect Union [by] establish[ing] justice… promot[ing] the general Welfare, and secur[ing] the Blessings of Liberty,” we still allow inequality and injustice to be an everyday facet of our social and political lives. That in the country that holds “these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, and among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” we still deny an entire population equal rights under the eyes of the law. That the society still repenting the systematic discrimination against whole communities based upon one characteristic it judged “lesser,” is now perpetuating the same intolerance, ignorance, and bigotry… again.

And I’m not the only one.