It’s been almost two weeks since a federal judge struck down Texas’ anti-gay marriage law. The sky hasn’t fallen, rivers continue to run downstream, dogs and cats are not cohabitating, and strangest of all, the Republican Party of Texas has not gone into full freakout mode. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a backlash coming, of course. The Observer gives us a preview.
To say the gay rights movement in the United States is experiencing a period of success is an understatement—even if the blowback to that success poses risks. Yet here in Texas, where you might expect more conflict about what remains a momentous social issue, you haven’t seen much yet beyond grandstanding. That’s partially a result of the fact that the Texas Legislature won’t meet again for another nine months. Texas groups agitated about the ruling haven’t had any space to float policy proposals or legislation.
But I was curious about what anti-gay marriage activists might have in store. So I called Jonathan Saenz, the president of Texas Values, the group which says it stands “for biblical, Judeo-Christian values by ensuring Texas is a state in which religious liberty flourishes, families prosper, and every human life is valued.”
Saenz, who responded to activists trying to strip anti-sodomy provisions out of Texas law last week by arguing that gay people only want gay rights because they’re gay, flatly denies the “homosexuals” are making any progress at all, and says his movement and Christians in the state won’t give up without a fight. What’s more, he left the door open to pushing for a bill, like the one recently vetoed in Arizona, that makes it legal for businesses to discriminate against gay people if serving them conflicts with a “deeply held religious belief.”
“This is the beginning of an epic battle,” Saenz told me. “There’s a strong likelihood that the Fifth Circuit [Court of Appeals] is going to overturn this decision. If Texas’ gay marriage laws are not constitutional, there’s no guarantee that the court won’t open up marriage to polygamy and polyandry.”
There’s definitely a chance the traditionally conservative Fifth Circuit overturns the Texas decision, but gay rights lawyers in Texas and elsewhere know these cases will be appealed and are laying the groundwork for the Supreme Court to take up the issue. That’s the reason U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia stayed his own ruling, as has happened in many states. It puts the ruling on hold until a higher court can weigh in. But even in that, Saenz sees encouragement.
The fact that Garcia stayed his ruling, Saenz says, “shows some hesitation on his part. I think the homosexual advocates were ready to go on down to the clerk’s office” and get married, he says cheerily, “and he put a stop to that.”
Link via Lone Star Q, who has another example of how obsessed Saenz is about this. I don’t know when the courts will take action again, but with Wendy Davis officially supporting same sex marriage while Greg Abbott files an appeal with the Fifth Circuit, there’s no escaping this issue, and the broader issue of equality, this election. I will be shocked if we don’t hear about some legislators and candidates proposing laws like the one that passed in Arizona before getting vetoed by the governor, and I will be shocked if the culture warriors of education don’t turn their gaze to the gay curriculum as they did a couple of years ago with social studies and its lack of sufficient-to-them deference to white people. Despite galloping advances in public opinion about gay rights and marriage equality, people often have a skewed view about how other people think, leading them to believe that the pro-equality side is a minority when in fact it is not. Things may be quiet on the surface now, but don’t let that fool you into thinking that the resentment and the resistance aren’t there.