By Dave Palmer
Oklahoma has apparently gone ape-crap over the Supreme Court overturning the Defense of Marriage Act, a decision that allows same-sex married couples to collect federal benefits. In fact, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin is so bat-dump crazy over the situation that she announced that all state-owned National Guard facilities are no longer going to allow any married couples to apply for spousal benefits regardless of sexual orientation, according to ThinkProgress.
Fallin believes that state offices for the National Guard should not have to provide benefits to same-sex couples because it would violate Oklahoma’s constitutional amendment limiting marriages to one man and one woman. Fallin stated:”Oklahoma law is clear. The state of Oklahoma does not recognize same-sex marriages, nor does it confer marriage benefits to same-sex couples. The decision reached today allows the National Guard to obey Oklahoma law without violating federal rules or policies. It protects the integrity of our state constitution and sends a message to the federal government that they cannot simply ignore our laws or the will of the people.” (Emphasis in original article.)
Wait just a second here, I thought that state laws and constitutions could not usurp federal laws and Supreme Court decisions. Yes, I’m quite positive that her belief is downright unconstitutional, and so is Oklahoma’s amendment to its state Constitution, as well as their blatant ignorance of a Supreme Court decision.
We’ll kick off with the Supreme Court overturning the Defense of Marriage Act. The opinion issued by the court states, “DOMA is unconstitutional as a deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment.” That means that even if your state passed a constitutional amendment to prevent same-sex marriage, your state offices still have to provide federal benefits to federal workers. There is no exception carved out for people who feel gurgly in the tummy when they think about lifestyles that don’t agree with their religious or other beliefs.
Lest you disbelieve the power of the Supreme Court, turn with me to Article III, Section 2 in the Constitution: “The judicial power [of the Supreme Court] shall extend to all cases, in law and equity, arising under this Constitution, the laws of the United States, and treaties made, or which shall be made, under their authority…” This means that the Supreme Court is the highest court in the land. There are no appeals once a decision is made unless you start at the bottom and work your way back to the top again, even if your deity tells you that their decision assists sinners in their depravity.
Next up, the Oklahoma constitutional amendment that refuses to recognize same-sex marriages. Once again, our old friend the Constitution of the United States comes through for us in Article I, Section 10. “No State shall…pass any… Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts.” Guess what, Oklahoma? Marriage is a contract. It’s such a strong contract that you have to get a lawyer and pay him lots of cash to break it in a process called divorce. That means that you must recognize and honor any legal contract of marriage that comes from any other state in our union, no matter if you dislike what they do in the bedroom.
For the coup de grace, we turn to Article VI, Clause 2: “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.” That means that the National Guard doesn’t have to obey Oklahoma’s constitutional amendment, because it effectively has been nullified by the Supreme Court when it comes to providing benefits to same-sex couples. Therefore, they are free to offer federal spousal benefits to married members of the National Guard, even if your constitution says their plumbing has to be different.
Therefore, the only message that Fallin and Oklahoma is sending is a big “Nana nana boo-boo, stick your head in poo-poo, thbbbbbbbbt, I’m not gonna and you can’t make me.” The federal government is not subservient to state laws and constitutions. In fact, the U.S. Constitution specifically states that the complete opposite is true.
And that is where the federal government has failed in its duties.
For some strange reason, the Obama administration sees fit to not use its Article II powers to direct the enforcement of the Constitution and federal laws to end this debacle. Perhaps this is because we just signed a pact with Afghanistan to keep our troops there until 2024, which will eat up a lot of money we could use to sue the snot out of Oklahoma.
Perhaps Obama is afraid of the religious right. However, he is term limited, and really has nothing to lose at this point. Besides, the shenanigans in Congress are pretty much keeping his desk clear of pending legislation, so why not take a swing at Fallin and Oklahoma? Although married couples can still technically apply for benefits at federal offices in the state, many of these offices are not exactly conveniently located in the large plains state. He could at least use the ire of inconvenienced constituents as his leverage.
Clearly, Fallin and Oklahoma are in the wrong. They have proven that they would rather deny benefits to everyone just so they can deny benefits to people whose lifestyles they don’t approve of. Well played Oklahoma, you screwed everybody to prove a point. Now, its federal government’s turn to put the screws to Oklahoma through the Attorney General’s Office.