5 Ridiculous Things Texans Have Said About Gay Marriage
On Tuesday the U.S. Supreme Court is finally hearing arguments on the issue of gay marriage in the United States. The subject has already come up plenty around Texas and various politicians and public figures have put in their thoughts on the matter. This being the Lone Star State of course, some of those thoughts have ranged from ridiculous to alarming. The Nine are hearing the case today but they won't likely issue a decision until the end of the term in June. In the meantime here is a roundup of some of the most ridiculous things Texans have said about gay rights and gay marriage in the lead-up to this day.
5. The one where a U.S. congressman says that gay marriage won't work because of "plumbing problems." In some ways Rep. Louie Gohmert is the gift that keeps on giving. We can always rely on the East Texas congressman to open his mouth and share his views on various topics with a version of "logic" and "reason" that is stunning to behold. When it comes to the question of gay marriage, Gohmert is reliably disconcerting on the topic, whether he's quoting Solomon (because "there's nothing new under the sun") or getting into the more practical sexy-time aspects of marriage.
In January 2014, Gohmert was speaking at an event, "Conversations with Conservatives," put on by the Heritage Foundation when he started talking about judges who argue that there's no biological proof that marriage should be limited to one man and one woman. That was when things got hilarious in an Oh-Lord-this-is-why-people-think-Texas-is-packed-with-narrowminded-bigots way, because apparently for Gohmert the whole argument comes down to the very basic question of plumbing, the human plumbing that he claims to understand even though federal judges do not, according to Gohmert, according Raw Story. Specifically:
"They need some basic plumbing lessons. For one omnipotent, omniscious, ubiquitous federal judge who is wise beyond his education to say -- to make such a declaration about the law, I think, requires revisiting by each state and compliance with the U.S. Supreme Court."
4. The one where a University of Texas professor claimed that gay marriage will make everyone super slutty. UT Professor Mark Regnerus has long espoused some rather controversial and backwards views about gay people. He's the guy who published the ridiculous and impressively one-dimensional study on the effects of having gay parents. Thus it shouldn't have come as a surprise that the good professor had some thoughts to share on gay marriage as the state bans against same-sex marriage began to be over overturned.
In February 2014 Regnerus was speaking at the Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio when he informed listeners that they should be concerned about this whole gay marriage thing because people will look at happy same-sex couples and suddenly have overwhelming urges for (gasp) getting more creative in the bedroom. But let's let Regnerus speak for himself on this one, as recorded by a blogger attending the event last year:
"We're not there just yet but the bridge is being built. If gay marriage is perceived as legitimate by heterosexual women it will eventually embolden boyfriends everywhere, and not a few husbands, to press for what men have always historically wanted and never been allowed -- sexual novelty."
The Supreme Court isn't expected to issue a ruling on gay marriage until around the end of the term in June (that's when the big cases are usually released). Many are predicting that Justice Anthony Kennedy, the swing vote, will decide the issue in favor of gay marriage. If he does and you and your significant other start feeling a little, shall we say, adventurous, know it's just the gay-marriage-induced sexual-novelty-urges that the Texas professor (because of course he's from Texas) warned you about.
3. The one where former-Gov. Rick Perry compares homosexuality to alcoholism. Last year, during those final twilight months of governorship (the time when he was simultaneously being indicted by a grand jury and toying with another run at securing the GOP 2016 presidential nomination), Perry took a trip to San Francisco to talk up the "Texas Miracle," the joys of deregulation and booming shale plays (this was in June and the price of oil was still high at this point.) Then someone in the audience asked Perry if he believes being gay is something that can be cured. And Perry, being himself, pulled a Perry and tried to answer the question. The results weren't pretty:
"Whether or not you feel compelled to follow a particular lifestyle or not, you have the ability to decide not to do that." He continued, "I may have the genetic coding that I'm inclined to be an alcoholic, but I have the desire not to do that, and I look at the homosexual issue the same way."
Since the infamous comparison Perry has exhibited some evolution when it comes to his views on gay people and same-sex marriage. Heck, last week he even said he would "probably" attend the wedding of a gay family member. Of course, he promptly complained that this was just a "gotcha question" designed to make him look bad, but end of the day, if the Supremes rule in favor of gay marriage and you end up marrying into Perry's family, he'll "probably" show up for the wedding.
2. Pretty much anything Ted Cruz has said on the subject. It's all pretty bad. Cruz likes to talk about how he just wants to leave the question of gay marriage up to the states, but don't let that seemingly benign stance fool you. Cruz isn't above attempting to appeal to gay people for campaign donations in his month-old official bid for the GOP 2016 presidential nomination -- he recently attended an event hosted by two gay businessmen in New York City sparking plenty of controversy.
Still, Cruz has been urging pastors to speak out against gay marriage pretty much since he burst onto the national scene.
In short, with Cruz it's hard to pick one truly ridiculous moment because there are so many to choose from. After all, this is a politician who has no problem pandering to some liberally inclined audiences on the topic of gay rights, adopting a more cuddly take on the issue. However, Cruz then has no apparent problem hurling himself the other way when he's out in front of the hardline conservatives that so adore him. In March Cruz said this about the judges who have struck down gay marriage bans:
"We have seen judges, and especially the Supreme Court, ignoring the law," Cruz said. He later added, "If the courts were following the Constitution, we shouldn't need a new amendment, but they are, as you put it quite rightly, 'making it up' right now and it's a real danger to our liberty."
Then he pledged to file a constitutional amendment allowing states to once again ban gay marriage. Last week he filed a bill to add an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would shield states that say marriage is only between one man and one woman. He also filed a bill barring federal courts from making any other decisions on gay marriage until the amendment is adopted. And then he went to an event hosted by gay businessmen and said he'd be decent to his daughters if one of them ever came out to him. Because of course he did.
1. That time Texas Solicitor General Jonathan Mitchell called marriage a "subsidy." After a judge ruled against the state's gay marriage ban in De Leon v. Perry, the state appealed to the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. These days the Fifth is known for being one of the most conservative courts in the country, but the panel of judges assigned to the gay marriage case -- Judge James Graves Jr., a President Barack Obama appointee, Judge Jerry E. Smith and Judge Patrick Higginbotham, both appointed by President Ronald Reagan -- meant the case was actually up in the air since Graves is liberal and Higginbotham is a wild card.
All of this meant that Mitchell, instead of having to merely show up with a pulse to sway the court to his side, was having to actually try and persuade a court with two of the three judges clearly against a gay marriage ban. So Mitchell waded into his argument in January. He claimed marriage was only meant to encourage the birth of children and compared it to a subsidy, like free school lunches.
However, Graves and Higgenbotham weren't buying this stance:
"Marriage is a subsidy?" interjected Graves. "And there is no right to marry? It's just a subsidy?"
"The state's not denying the right to live together, it's not denying the right to change their names, or hold a wedding ceremony--" Mitchell started. Graves finished his thought.
"You're just denying the right to marry," Graves said.
Then he tried to paint the plaintiffs in the case as hopeless romantics:
"The plaintiffs view the institution of marriage as existing only to celebrate the mutual love and commitment of two people. The state's marriage laws reflect a different view. The celebration of love is important, but it's secondary to the interests in generating positive benefits for society [by] encouraging new offspring and reducing out-of-wedlock births that put a strain on the state."
So in the end our current favorite judging duo came off looking awesome while Mitchell looked like an ass. Even if the Fifth doesn't issue a ruling before the Supremes issue their decision -- a highly possible possibility -- Mitchell got a chance to speak for Texas and boy did he make Texas look ridiculous.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Houston Press' biggest stories.