The attention of the country, or at least that segment of it that's politically aware enough to pay attention, is focused squarely on the U.S. Supreme Court,which this week is debating a pair of potentially momentous cases. Hollingsworth v. Perry, which was argued today, could do away with California's Proposition 8, which bans gay marriage there.
Tomorrow is the hearing for United States v. Windsor, which challenges the federal Defense of Marriage Act and the prohibition on same-sex partners who, though legally married in their home states, aren't eligible for federal spousal benefits.
Taken together, the cases have the potential to greatly expand the rights of same-sex couples, assuming a majority of justices position themselves on the right side of history. We don't know yet whether that will happen. What we do know is a helluva lot of Texas politicians are firmly on the opposite side.
They have expressed their objections over the last couple of days with increasing frequency and volume as the Supreme Court showdown has loomed. The specifics vary, but not much.
Take Ted Cruz. He's a lawyer, and he offered a lawyer's dispassionate response when he spoke with the Morning News' Gromer Jeffers Jr. outside an event in Richardson today: "The Constitution leaves it to the states to decide upon marriage, and I hope the Supreme Court respects centuries of tradition and doesn't step into the process of setting aside state laws that make the definition of marriage."
In Austin, where Texas Values was sponsoring a Texas Faith & Family Day at the State Capitol, the rhetoric was less subdued. There was Governor Rick Perry, of course, who suggested that proponents of gay marriage "want to silence the religious in the name of tolerance. Where is the tolerance in that? Somewhere along the way we lost our way, not to mention our common sense."
The Austin American-Statesman has the soliloquy on the subject Attorney General Greg Abbott delivered at a related event last night:
Some people forget that marriage is not man-made law. Marriage is God's law that man applied and adopted here in Texas and the United States, and man cannot rewrite God's law. Well Texas has stood firm on this issue, because we don't care how they define marriage on the East Coast or the West Coast because in Texas marriage remains a union between one man and one woman. But now, as we speak, marriage of course itself is being challenged. In the United States Supreme Court this week the definition of marriage will come under assault. I wish I could predict for you how the case will turn out but I turned out to be wrong in my prediction about Obamacare. But here is what I can predict for you. Regardless of how that case turns out, Texans will respond the way they always do. We will fight to ensure that traditional values of faith and family will be preserved, protected and defended in the state of Texas.
State Senator Donna Campbell said that Texans' "core values are being attacked on a daily basis ... by government fiat in our courts and in our schools," according to the Statesman. "They want to redefine marriage between a natural man and natural woman the same way the want to redefine the Constitution. It's just not going to stand with me." Nor with any of the 250 or so activists who were gathered today on the steps of the state Capitol.
And surely no such gathering would be complete without dire warnings about plural marriage. State Representative Scott Sanford of Collin County voiced that concern to KHOU. "It will be polygamy, it'll be to define family however you want."
So if the Supreme Court OKs gay marriage, it's only a matter of time before Americans enter legally sanctioned unions with goats. Bears. Lizards. Toothbrushes. It's a slippery, slippery slope.