Oklahoma Republicans

Oklahoma

Detail of 'The Virgin Spanking the Christ Child before Three Witnesses: Andre Breton, Paul Eluard, and the Painter', by Max Ernst.  Oil on canvas.  Paris, 1926.  (Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany)

This is a simple exercise in contrasts. Steve Benen explains:

… a major court ruling in Oklahoma, where state officials have been told to stop promoting one religion’s scared tenets on the Capitol grounds. The Tulsa World reported this week:

The Oklahoma Supreme Court on Tuesday said the Ten Commandments monument at the state Capitol must be removed.

The plaintiffs said its placement at the Capitol constituted the use of public property for the benefit of a system of religion, which is banned by the Oklahoma Constitution.

State law isn’t especially ambiguous. Section II-5 of the Oklahoma Constitution says public property can’t be used to benefit or support any “sect, church, denomination, or system of religion,” either directly or indirectly. When state lawmakers approved a monument to the Protestant version of the Ten Commandments, it was hard to even imagine how this could be legally permissible ....

.... The Republican-led state legislature has been a little hysterical since the decision was handed down, and state House Speaker Jeff Hickman (R) said impeachment proceedings against the Supreme Court’s majority “will be seriously considered.”

To summarize:

(1) Oklahoma state Supreme Court decides under clear dictate of law that a state-sponsored tribute to Christian faith is not permissible on capitol grounds.

(2) Republicans will seriously consider impeaching the justices in retribution for enforcing the law.

Oklahoma.

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Image note: Detail of, The Virgin Spanking the Christ Child before Three Witnesses: Andre Breton, Paul Eluard, and the Painter, by Max Ernst. Oil on canvas. Paris, 1926. (Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany)

Benen, Steve. “This Week in God, 7.4.15”. msnbc. 4 July 2015.

Happening (Sooner Than Never Mix)

D City Rock: Detail of frame from "Panty and Stocking With Garterbelt", 'Help! We Are Angels', by TeddyLoin featuring Debra Zeer.

When word emerged last year that an Oklahoma Republican legislator was considering the idea of getting rid of marriage entirely in the Sooner state rather than entertain gay marriage, it was easy enough to sort of chuckle and joke about how well they were taking it. After all, they were just venting steam. It’s not like they would actually go there, right?

Well, technically, no. But they managed to come up with something that might actually be worse.

In an effort to block the state’s involvement with gay marriage, the Oklahoma House of Representatives passed a bill Tuesday (March 10) to abolish marriage licenses in the state.

The legislation, authored by Rep. Todd Russ, R-Cordell, amends language in the state law that governs the responsibilities of court clerks. All references to marriage licenses were removed.

(Horton)

So far, so … er … ah … well, right. So it would seem they went there. Except they didn’t.

Russ said the federal government is attempting to change the traditional definition of marriage, so his legislation would place the responsibility for officiating marriages in the hands of clergy.

“Marriage was historically a religious covenant first and a government-recognized contract second,” Russ told The Oklahoman.

The legislation has sparked controversy, both in the Legislature and with groups such as Americans United for Separation of Church and State. Oklahoma Democrats are concerned that the legislation will lead to a “Pandora’s box” of issues, including polygamy, once the government’s authority to regulate marriage is removed.

Americans United released a statement opposing the bill, saying it is biased against same-sex couples and nontheists, including atheists. Russ has been unapologetic in defending his exclusion of nontheists from the right to marry.

This is where they went.

Oklahoma!

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“Oklahoma Lawmakers Consider Preventing All Marriage: Report”. The Huffington Post. 25 January 2015.

Horton, Greg. “Oklahoma Bill Would Give Clergy Power Over Marriage Licenses”. The Huffington Post. 12 March 2015.