Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Sweet Home Alabama

Are you old enough to remember the ugliness of Selma, Alabama? Do you remember Alabama Governor George Wallace blocking the school house door?

If you are not old enough to recall these pivotal moments in American history fear not because thanks to the Great State of Alabama you now have the opportunity to relive some of the worst moments in American history. Once again Alabama is taking center stage in the fight against equality for all Americans.

On Monday the United States Supreme Court denied the state of Alabama’s request to prohibit same sex marriage while the state appealed a federal judge’s ruling that allowed such unions to occur.

Case closed…right? If you know anything about the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution (Article VI; Clause 2) you know that whenever there is a conflict between state and federal laws the federal law trumps state.

Apparently they do not teach the Supremacy Clause in Alabama law schools. Or perhaps Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore was absent that day. You see Justice Moore responded to the Supreme Court’s decision by sending a letter to all county judges informing them that the Supreme Court’s ruling was not binding on state courts. As a result 44 of the state’s 67 counties have said they will not issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian applicants.

Judge Moore’s statement is blatantly false. But in reality it comes down to enforcement. For example, Colorado recently passed a law legalizing the sale and purchase or marijuana. The law violates federal statutes. Thus far the federal government has elected not to swoop in and enforce the federal statute. Judge Moore is banking that the federal government will take the same stance when it comes to gay marriage in his home state. Ignore the federal law until the federal government steps in to enforce it.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to rule on the legality of same sex marriage sometime in June. It is expected that the court will favor of same sex unions making it the law of the land. Until that time Judge Moore will in all likelihood get his way.

This is yet another example of the hypocrisy that rises to the surface whenever right wing ideology meets reality. The far right rails against government interfering in our lives. Yet here we have a state Supreme Court judge denying a group of American citizen’s equal protection under the law. Hard working, taxpaying legal citizens barred from exercising their legal rights because of some deep ceded bigotry born in the stone ages. It is the same ideological bigotry that showed its true self in the streets of Selma and Birmingham in the 1960’s.

So if you are too young to understand the true ugliness of racism and the demoralizing affects that it can have on a society; keep your eye on this story and watch as history repeats itself in the Great State of Alabama.

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