Marriage could be starting next week in Alabama. Anti-gay officials are saying that they don't have to let gay couples get married, but their reasoning isn't exactly what you would call true. Oklahoma's marriage equality backlash is getting dangerous, with a proposed law that would hand new victims to ex-gay predators. And the National Organization for Marriage thinks they'll have an impact on the 2016 presidential election.
There's less than one week left until a stay expires in Alabama, at which point couples could be allowed to start getting married. The state has asked the 11th Circuit for a longer stay while they appeal, and the court could rule on that request sometime this week. They denied a similar request from Florida, but the Alabama case is a little different.
One of those differences is how creatively anti-gay officials have been fighting gay and lesbian couples. Last week Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore released a statement that he plans to defy any pro-equality ruling. Moore was removed from office in 2003 for violating the U.S. Constitution with a ten-commandments statue. But he was reinstated by voters in 2012. Now he says that the federal courts can't tell state courts what to do.
Mike Huckabee is making similar claims. Last week he started talking about overriding pro-equality rulings through a process known as nullification, whereby a state nullifies any federal law or ruling that it doesn't like. That sounds fine, except it isn't really a thing. Nullification has been floated as a theory for over 200 years, most recently as a way to maintain segregated schools, but it's never been upheld. The law's totally clear: when it comes to the U.S. Constitution, federal courts are in charge. Huckabee and Moore know this, and they don't seriously believe their claims can pass constitutional muster. These are just more tactics to try to intimidate gay and lesbian couples.
In the mean time, two cases in Alabama are moving forward. The state has appealed the a pro-equality ruling from two weeks ago. And now a judge has ruled in a second case that the state's marriage ban is unconstitutional. Meanwhile, Alabama's only openly gay legislator, Representative Patricia Todd, has said that if elected officials continue to speak out against marriage equality, she'll reveal which ones of them are having extramarital affairs. It's hard to say whether that would be a good move or a bad move. It sure would drive a wedge even deeper between the two sides. But it's also a handy reminder that while their side can engage in intimidation tactics, our side can too.
Speaking of intimidation, Oklahoma state Rep Sally Kern has withdrawn a bill that would have allowed businesses to punish gay and lesbian couples by preventing them from receiving services. In part, that's because there are multiple other bills already in the works that would do the same thing. But Kern is continuing to promote something much worse: a bill that would give "ex-gay" predators access to more victims. Numerous states have banned ex-gay abuse, but Kern's bill would be the first to protect it. Not only has every major medical organization in the country warned that these practices are harmful, we've seen that much of this so-called "therapy" is actually just sexual assault, sometimes of children. Kern's bill would not only protect these predators, it would deliver new victims to them.
This won't be the last we see of that anti-gay backlash to marriage equality. Cases are continuing to move ahead in multiple states. Just in the last week, lawsuits have advanced in Puerto Rico, Nebraska, Kansas, and Louisiana. And the National Organization for Marriage managed to get some attention momentarily when they announced that they'll ask the 2016 presidential candidates to sign a pledge to oppose the freedom to marry. They were able to get a handful of signatures in 2012, but with the group's ever-dwindling clout, they may have more trouble getting an audience with serious candidates this time around. That is, if the organization even still exists by this time next year.
Those are the headlines, subscribe here to stay up to date on all these stories. For the American Foundation for Equal Rights, I'm Matt Baume. Thanks for watching and we'll see you next week.