Marriage equality in Illinois, 15 … 16 … 17 …

Good news for the people of Illinois and the Constitution: “Illinois lawmakers approve gay marriage in historic vote.”

Lawmakers approved gay marriage Tuesday in a historic vote that saw supporters overcome cultural, racial and geographic divides and put Illinois in line with a growing number of states that have extended the right to wed to same-sex couples.

… Gov. Pat Quinn said he intends to sign the bill, which would take effect June 1.

After a long slog and several false starts in Illinois’ legislature, the bill passed in the state House last night and was quickly reconfirmed by the Illinois Senate and sent to the governor, whose signature will make Illinois the 15th state to legally recognize marriage equality.

The surprising speed of this vote in Joshua Speed’s old hometown has sunk my marriage equality office pool — I’d picked Hawaii for No. 15, New Mexico at 16, and then Illinois. Since I’m clearly no good at guessing the order of these things, I won’t speculate about which will come first, but Hawaii and New Mexico are poised to join Illinois before the end of this year, or perhaps before the end of this month.

After a long and contentious hearing process — including 57 hours of testimony and a clumsy attempt at a “people’s filibuster” by marriage equality opponents — Hawaii’s House Judiciary Committee finally voted yesterday afternoon, passing that state’s marriage equality measure and sending it to the full House for a vote:

If the bill passes its second reading in the House [today] there will be a 48 hour hold before House Representatives take a third reading and final vote, which would be Friday at the earliest. Since the bill has been amended, it still needs to cross back over the Senate for approval.

If passed, Hawaii’s law would take effect Nov. 18 — a week from Monday.

Meanwhile, in New Mexico:

Eight counties are issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and the state Supreme Court is considering a lawsuit on whether gay marriage is legal statewide. State law doesn’t explicitly authorize or prohibit gay and lesbian couples from being married.

Courts are supposed to stick to the law when making their decisions. It’s hard to imagine any credible way for a court to rule that something which is not illegal is still somehow not legal. (“All that is not explicitly permitted is therefore forbidden” is not how the law is supposed to work.) So this should be a swift and easy decision, and it’s also expected soon.

In anticipation of that, “New Mexico’s insurance regulator has directed insurers to provide same-sex married couples with the same benefits and discounts offered to opposite-sex married couples.”

The dead-enders in these states are not going quietly or graciously. In Illinois, for example, we learned that Republican state Rep. Dwight Kay is astonishingly ignorant about the U.S. Constitution:

“The other thing I didn’t hear today was the fact that this nation was built on the scriptures,” he said on the House floor. “And then came the Constitution. Is that not right?”

“I think it is,” Kay continued. “Our Constitution has always looked to the scriptures for its guidance and its columns and its foundations and its leanings, its underpinnings. And, yet, I’ve heard nothing today about the scriptures. The only thing I have heard is about human rights.”

“So I guess we have walked away, we have backed away from our heritage in this nation, which we seem to do quite regularly for the expediency of what we wish to do in the moment,” he remarked. “And, ladies and gentlemen, that’s pride. That’s the belief you’re better than the very foundations of this nation which we find in the scriptures.”

Rep. Kay didn’t say which “scriptures” he was referring to, so let’s look at the Constitution and see which scriptures it cites. … Hmm, nothing there. Nothing at all. Only a couple of mentions of religion in the entire document.

It says “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” And it says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” But the Constitution doesn’t say anything about being based upon “the scriptures.”

Rep. Dwight Kay seems to be talking out of his ass, and his ass has apparently been watching too many David Barton DVDs.

Kay is almost as confused about the law as Tenari Maafala, the head of Hawaii’s police union, who testified before Hawaii’s House Judiciary Committee that he would never enforce the legal recognition of marriage equality. “You would have to kill me,” the melodramatic fantasist-with-a-badge said in an apparent attempt to say the most absurdly self-aggrandizing thing he could think of.

Set aside the question of whether Maafala is qualified to be a police officer, since he seems to think he’s allowed to pick and choose which laws to enforce. The weirder thing about his flaccid defiance is that it’s based on the notion that marriage in general is something that needs to be enforced by the police. Perhaps you’re married. If not, perhaps you know some people who are married. Can you recall any time in which the police were summoned to “enforce” the law recognizing the legality of their marriage? “Hello, 9-1-1? Yes, this is Mrs. Jones. We need you to get over here right away to enforce the legality of our marriage. It’s our anniversary and we can’t celebrate unless the police …” Bizarre.

Hawaii state Rep. Bob McDermott provided another dead-ender lowlight in those hearings. McDermott seemed eager to trot out the anti-gay zingers that had gone over so well with his buddies at the Men’s Leadership Prayer Breakfast. They didn’t go over quite so well when he tried them out on Harvard geneticist Dean Hamer. Science, schmience — McDermott’s not gonna [change] his tune just because of elitist facts and pointy-headed reality and all that Ivory Tower stuff.

Bob McDermott doesn’t want to know facts and he doesn’t want to know people who might expose him to facts. He’s proud of his ignorance and unconcerned with the cruelty and injustice it produces.

The good news is that McDermott and Maafala lost the argument in Hawaii and Kay lost the argument in Illinois. The bad news is that many, many other people think like they do — as this depressing video from Justin Lee shows.

  • http://accidental-historian.typepad.com/ Geds

    And, yet, I’ve heard nothing today about the scriptures. The only thing I have heard is about human rights.

    Is anybody else curious as to whether Dwight Kay listens to himself when he talks? Because, wow. If someone passed that quote on the internet I’d say it was too perfect and had to be made up.

  • hidden_urchin

    You beat me to it. I was thinking that he says that phrase as if human rights were a bad thing. I also like how it puts human rights and scripture in opposition.

    Jesus would be so proud.

    I also really want to know how Maafala intends to avoid enforcing marriage equality. Seriously. It’s like a bunch of words are strung together and each one has meaning but as a group they are gibberish.

  • hidden_urchin

    Oh God, Dean Hamer at 6:02 in that video. It’s a thing of beauty.

    I love it when smart people get angry.

  • eamonknight

    I wish I had ready access to appropriate quotes, but I’m *sure* I’ve heard Christians of the Barton persuasion insist that the Bible is the basis of all human rights (usually by reference to the “endowed by their Creator” bit in the Declaration of Independence. The link to the Bible is, um, unclear to me). The point being that, these people think “human rights” is a Very Good Thing, when the talking point works in their favour.

  • Jim Roberts

    Honestly, yes, police do enforce marriage, or at least enforce based on marital status. I’m not saying it’s right, but it’s fairly well documented that police are much quicker to react to a domestic dispute involving a straight couple.

  • eamonknight

    Police get involved in DV situations, also potentially in enforcement of custody and separation agreements (when one party is being an asshat about it). None of that seems like “enforcing marriage” per se. At a stretch, I can just barely imagine the refusal of a public official to solemnize a gay wedding being somehow turned into a misdemeanour offense, but that’s the nearest I can come.

  • Jim Roberts

    Well, imagine this bigot is called into a situation where he’s supposed to return a child from their biological mother to their biological father and his husband. I can definitely see how his response could colour – and tarnish – his response to the situation.

  • Alex Harman

    Maafala probably thinks he will have the opportunity to take a principled stand for religious liberty by refusing to arrest ministers who refuse to perform same-sex marriages in their churches, or otherwise play the evil authority figure in some angst-ridden hegemon’s persecution fantasy.

  • eamonknight

    Oh, I’m sure he’ll claim it’s about “enforcing marriage”, possibly requiring a court to kick his ass into doing his job. AFAIK child custody orders have nothing to do with the marital status of either parent, current or past.

  • Jim Roberts

    To be clear, I don’t think his job has anything to do with enforcing marriage either, but it seems certain he sees it that way.

  • skyblue

    You may yet be right about the order…at least with respect to when same-sex marriages become available in the different states. From what I read that won’t be till June in Illinois. So I hope you’re right about HI and NM beating IL to the actual issuing of licenses to gay couples – and it’d be nice if a few other states would jump in there as well!

  • MaryKaye

    The new mayor of my city appeared with his husband at the victory celebration. Yes!

    (I hope he is a good mayor. The job is awfully difficult.)

  • Rosabarba

    First time, long time.

    I’m sorry this is OT, but I would like to say that if Fred Clark were to produce a podcast of nothing more than him reading his Left Behind critiques, I’d pay cash money to hear them.

  • David S.

    That which is not explicitly permitted is forbidden is perhaps a bit of a narrow line, but in general governmental bodies should do what they are explicitly permitted to do, and not be constantly required to be told what they aren’t supposed to do. We shouldn’t need to write out that the dogcatcher is not entitled to haul speeders to the police station.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam
  • Matri

    Funny thing about child custody disputes: In order for that to happen, the parents have to be not married to each other.

  • eamonknight

    That irony had not escaped me ;-).

  • David S.

    It strikes me a bit bizarre and scary when someone complains that we’re only talking about “human rights” and not “Scripture”. If you can’t argue that Scripture supports human rights, which are basically rules for humans to be moral to each other, then why are you supporting the Scriptures?

  • stardreamer42

    I gave up partway thru Mr. “I got my education in a third-world country,” but that was after the best bits anyhow. Still, Hamer wasn’t saying anything that anyone with a high-school education should have had any trouble understanding.

  • Carstonio

    I had guessed that he would refuse to arrest court clerks. Unfortunately for him, my jurisdiction simply relieved any objecting clerks from officiating at any weddings. But I have the dreadful suspicion that Maafala is really talking about being prevented from arresting same-sex couples at the courthouse.

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ mistformsquirrel

    So happy / GO IL! We did something right! Admittedly later than we should have, but better now than never.

  • ReverendRef

    I’m a little late here, but this seemed to be a good spot to post more good news: Miriam, my brain tumor, surgery surviving parishioner is getting good reports.

    The post-surgery report was that it was more complicated and risky
    than originally hoped for, but it went well and the surgeon was
    optimistic.

    I checked in before leaving town today, and the family is doing well and all are resting. So much so that they posted pictures of her up and about with her local fan club (med team) gathered around her.

    Thank you all for your good thoughts, vibes, candles, crossed fingers and what have you. It looks good from here.

  • dpolicar

    That’s awesome.

  • tricksterson

    Something I noticed. While he flamboyantly said that “they” (whoever “they” are supposed to be) would have to kill him. he didn’t take a far more realistic and meaningful form of protest, which would have been threatening or offering to quit if it was passed. Guess his paycheck is more important than his life.

    Unless of course the whole “They would have to kill me” is just a load of bullshit posturing….Naaah, couldn’t be.

  • tricksterson

    He also mentioned that he would never allow this to be “forced on his family”. WTF? Does he think pink clad storm troopers are going to break into his house and force his children into same sex marriage? I shudder to think what would happen if one of his children ever came out. I think he would be far more likely to commit murder than be a victim of same.

  • chgo_liz

    My immediate reaction was to think about the relevant passage in the Declaration of Independence. Inalienable rights, and all that. And then there’s the Bill of Rights. Seems like human/citizen rights were kind of a big deal to our Founding Fathers.

  • chgo_liz

    And that’s based on their inability to grasp the concept that “their Creator” is a very different thing than “our Creator” or “the Creator”.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    (^_^)b Good to hear!

  • Baby_Raptor

    No. He thinks that allowing people to do things he disapproves of at all is “forcing” these things on his family, because that means that somewhere out there, someone *approves* of these things. Which means his kids might eventually develop views he doesn’t like.

  • Baby_Raptor

    There’s also the fact that the treaty of Tripoli, which (I believe) was signed by one of the authors of the Constitution, plainly says “The US was not based on Christianity.”

  • Baby_Raptor

    This is good news indeed. *hugs* to the family, and to you.

  • Matthias

    You were not wrong about the order. The bill in Illinois will only take effect next June. The bill in Hawaii (which has just passed its second reading) will take effect this year, as will the supreme court decision in New Mexico.

  • Ursula L

    Police enforcement of marriage?

    “Hello, 911? My spouse was in a car accident, and the ambulance took him to a Catholic hospital, and they aren’t allowing me to see him or sign permissions as his spouse, and for all I know he may be dying, and they’re trying to contact his parents who said they’d never speak to him again after we married, and they won’t perform surgery until next-of-kin has signed…”

  • Eric Boersma

    As I understand it, that particular phrase is of dubious originality (I’ve seen scholars argue that it’s not present in all original versions of the treaty), so it’s not quite the battering club against the concept of the US as a Christian Nation ™ that many people like to pull out.

    For my money, I usually find that the Jefferson Bible is the most effective way of showing that the “Founding Fathers” were people who held a wide variety of religious beliefs. The President of the United States spending time in the Oval Office writing all of Jesus’s divine attributes out of the Bible is a pretty good indicator that maybe you shouldn’t take “Christian Nation” at face value.

  • Eric Boersma

    You seem to have gotten it very twisted. You should re-read the original quote.

  • Carstonio

    Arguing from things like the Treaty of Tripoli lets opponents set the terms of the debate, since this effectively endorses originalism. Even if we had proof that the Founders wanted a GivenReligion Nation, that concept would still be wrong because it disenfranchises non-GivenReligioners. My frustration with originalists, in both politics and religion, is that they rarely say explicitly what kind of society they want.

  • AnonaMiss

    Unfortunately, charging for a podcast about the Left Behind books would likely open Fred to legal action. (I’d say it’s within fair use, but I’m sure Fred can’t afford to defend against such a suit.)

    However, you can always pay cash money to our host using the donate button :).

  • AnonaMiss

    Five million ughs. Thanks for reminding me to check into the religious affiliations of nearby hospitals.

  • Ursula L

    Catholics. Founding hospitals to leave you dead rather than providing care that they have theological problems with. At least Christian Scientists have the honesty not to found hospitals and take government money when their theology gets in the way of medical care.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    Rep. Kay didn’t say which “scriptures” he was referring to, so let’s look at the Constitution and see which scriptures it cites. … Hmm, nothing there. Nothing at all. Only a couple of mentions of religion in the entire document.
    -
    Scripture(TM) = “Ees Party Line, Comrade.”
    doubleplus goodthink INGSOC,
    doubleplus bellyfeel INGSOC,
    doubleplus duckspeak INGSOC.

  • Lunch Meat

    That’s the belief you’re better than the very foundations of this nation which we find in the scriptures.

    I think you’re parsing this wrong. He’s not saying that the constitution references scripture. He’s saying that scripture explicitly establishes the “very foundations” of America. I’d be very curious to find out in which verse this occurs.

  • David S.

    “Eight counties are issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples”. I don’t think it unreasonable to ask whether they have gone beyond what power the voters have explicitly given them.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    If they want original, they can GET original. Now if they’re willing to acknowledge that times change, then no problemo.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Where were you when the US government all but shredded the Constitution in the name of the War on Terror? Talk about going beyond the power voters have given!

  • Albanaeon

    Glad to hear.

  • RidgewayGirl

    Years ago, when my husband was still my boyfriend, we knew a couple who, in addition to being fun to spend time with, really modeled for me what a healthy relationship should look like. I’m so happy they will finally be getting married, thanks to the great state of Illinois.

    Incidentally, they were a part of my wedding. My fundamentalist family handled it by pretending nothing at all was different than they had expected.

  • dpolicar

    My company’s benefits enrollment period just opened, so they had a bunch of vendors from insurance companies and whatnot over to pitch their wares to us. This one woman, probably in her 60s, was explaining various things to me and at some pointed asked me if I had a wife.

    “Husband,” I said.

    She blinked, shrugged, said “That’s good enough” and went on with her pitch.

    It’s not quite equality, granted. And the idea that we’re moving into a world where equal treatment is sufficiently taken for granted that that sort of heteronormativity is worth worrying about, because the worse stuff is mostly stories from earlier generations, is really quite delightful.

    But for now I’ll take it, and happily.

  • guest

    Gay marriage has been legal in the UK since this summer and I’d actually forgotten it happened. That’s how much it’s changed my country.

    (I know it was very important for a lot of other people and best of luck to them, but, not being gay or knowing anyone gay, it made fuck-all difference to me.)
    I look forward to the day when the USA has put this issue behind it forever.

  • guest

    I assumed he was refusing to interfere if gay married couples were harrased or beaten up. I hope I’m wrong, that’s just the only way I can imagine police ‘enforcing’ marriage,