In 1967, T.W. Bruton of North Carolina was the only state attorney general willing to do what Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and fourteen other state's attorneys general did on Thursday. Bruton filed a friend of the court brief with the Supreme Court urging that it uphold Virginia's prohibition against interracial marriage struck down in Loving v. Virginia. Paxton has joined author Buddy Caldwell of Louisiana and 12 other pals to ask the Supreme Court not to extend marriage rights to the gay community.
Paxton and Caldwell -- joined by the attorneys general of Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina and West Virginia -- assert in their brief that the Roberts court shouldn't legalize same-sex marriage across the United States for a couple of reasons. First, they say, gays do not deserve the same 14th Amendment-based equal protection rights as other Americans and, second, the court legalizing marriage in the backwaters where it isn't currently legal would undermine the tremendous electoral victories won by the same-sex marriage movement in recent years.
"Many Americans believe in a new conception of marriage that would extend to same-sex relationships. Many do not," Caldwell says in his brief.
Those who don't, Caldwell argues, are entitled to respect because they maintain a long-held notion of traditional marriage. In 1664, Maryland became the first colony to criminalize interracial marriage. In 1958, 94 percent of white Americans were against interracial marriage. Interracial marriage was illegal in Texas from 1837-1967, a 130-year tradition.
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Pro-marriage equality residents of states where the Supreme Court might legalize marriage would be deprived of seeing their "insights" in the discussion of marriage acknowledged by voters, Caldwell says, if both straight and gay people's right to marry is deemed to be merely constitutionally protected.
"A decision that the Constitution compelled them to reach only one result would make a mockery of those deliberations," he says of the debates that have happened in states that have legalized same sex-marriage by popular vote.
Paxton, for his part, because he believes Texas has a constitutional right to discriminate against whoever it damn well wants to.
"We continue to defend the sovereignty of the states and their constitutional authority to define marriage in this country. As the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has held, the states' authority to define marriage and choose whether to officially recognize marriages performed in other states is constitutional. I urge the Supreme Court to uphold the appeals court's ruling and strike down these blatant attempts to disregard the will of millions of citizens in Texas and dozens of other states who stood and voted for the cherished institution of marriage, Paxton said in a statement.