Gay Judge Refuses to Marry Straight People? 4 Ways Sane Lawmakers Are Fighting Back in the Culture Wars
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Political history has repeated itself recently, in a terrible way, with the return of the culture wars. Rather than focus on much-needed steps to improve the economy, Republican lawmakers have been focusing in recent months on efforts to roll back women's rights, including access to abortion and contraception, while homophobia runs rampant among the 2012 GOP candidates
Activists have responded to these attacks by attempting to dispel hateful myths and draw attention to the harm that could be done with Republicans' social agenda. For instance, about 1,000 activists gathered at the Virginia statehouse earlier this month to silently protest the invasive transvaginal ultrasound bill the state legislature was considering (and has since withdrawn).
But ordinary citizens aren't the only ones protesting these anti-gay, anti-woman measures; several lawmakers and a judge recently made headlines for their creative and inspiring efforts to highlight the absurdities of the new culture wars.
1. Gay judge in Texas refuses to marry straight couples.
Texas judge Tonya Parker takes a very straightforward stance on officiating marriage ceremonies: she won't do it. Why? Because under Texas law, Parker, who is gay, does not have the right to get married herself.
Parker recently told a members of the Stonewall Democrats of Dallas (via the Dallas Voice):
"I use it as my opportunity to give them a lesson about marriage inequality in this state because I feel like I have to tell them why I'm turning them away. So I usually will offer them something along the lines of 'I'm sorry. I don't perform marriage ceremonies because we are in a state that does not have marriage equality, and until it does, I am not going to partially apply the law to one group of people that doesn't apply to another group of people.' And it's kind of oxymoronic for me to perform ceremonies that can't be performed for me, so I'm not going to do it."
Parker has a point -- why should she have to perform marriage ceremonies when she would not be able to waltz into a courthouse and get married to her own partner?
Just last week a second federal judge deemed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional, paving the way for the law to head to the Supreme Court, and both Washington and Maryland moved to legalize same-sex marriage in the past month. So here's hoping Parker will be able to start performing both gay and straight marriages sooner rather than later.
Watch Parker's speech to the Stonewall Democrats of Dallas:
2. Oklahoma lawmaker sneaks "life begins at ejaculation" amendment into "personhood" bill.
"Personhood" measures that would give legal rights to fetuses are all the rage among anti-choice Republican lawmakers these days, with bills popping up in Mississippi, Colorado, and most recently, Virginia and Oklahoma. The legislation proved to be highly unpopular in Mississippi and Colorado, and was roundly defeated. But personhood could become law in Oklahoma very soon, as it has already passed both state legislative chambers.
Women's rights advocates are obviously enraged at this development, which, as Sarah Seltzer wrote recently :
threaten[s] the legal standing of everything from in vitro fertilization to the morning-after pill to miscarriages to many kinds of birth control -- and this particular bill has no rape or incest exceptions.
In a less legal sense, it pathologizes women who struggle with fertility (are their bodies murderers?), and contrary to its name, makes them into less than full persons. If this bill gets signed into law, it will be the first genuine personhood law that goes into effect.