Texas bill would nullify Federal court orders on marriage

I’m not sure why anyone would think this could work after the U.S. proved state employees could not unilaterally refuse to implement Federal court orders by deploying the U.S. Army 101st Airborne Division paratroopers to Arkansas to enforce school desegregation, but one very petulant Texas legislator aims to block state implementation of same-sex marriage if the Federal courts (including the Supreme Court) order licenses to be issued and/or recognized from other states. KVUE Austin:

Dubbed the “Preservation of Sovereignty and Marriage Act,” House Bill 623 says state and local government employees “may not recognize, grant, or enforce a same-sex marriage license.” If they do, “the employee may not continue to receive a salary, pension, or other employee benefit at the expense of the taxpayers of this State.”

The bill’s author, State Rep. Cecil Bell (R-Magnolia), says the Texas Legislature doesn’t work for the federal courts — which have no business striking down laws passed by Texas voters.

“Because we’ve seen activist federal courts, it’s important that we as Texans take steps to make certain that we’re able to protect traditional marriage and traditional values,” Bell told KVUE Friday. “One of the ways that we can do that is through the power of the purse.”

The result could be a potential quandary for government workers: Follow a court order or keep earning salary. Asked whether the bill would put government employees in a position of having to choose between being subjected to a federal lawsuit or losing their pension, Bell suggested employees would continue earning as long as they’re following state laws.

“I don’t see it as losing their pension except during the period of time which they are outside the [state] laws,” said Bell.

The full text of the bill also threatens the same consequences to any state employee or official who tries to violate or interfere with this new provision, meaning that all state officials — including the governor and attorney general — might face consequences (from whom is less clear) for giving an order allowing clerks to ignore this section as de facto unconstitutional and proceed with following Federal court orders to issue or recognize same-sex marriages.

I hope this bill doesn’t have a chance of passing, but if it does, it will put a lot of people in a very precarious position, financially or legally. It is also blatantly unconstitutional.

“I don’t see it as a threat at all,” countered Bell, who maintains his target is activist courts — and he has his colleagues’ support. “I think it is the ability of the state legislature to try to make certain that we affirm the sovereign right and sovereign nature of the state.”

It’s just another attempt to institute backdoor secession from Federal authority.


Syria, Lebanon: Small reform, big potential impact

kurdistan-map-ciaSometimes the role of government isn’t about the really big things. Sometimes, it’s just about the little things that affect everything else.

Lebanon and Kurdish Syria (a semi-autonomous region) have been making a key reform in one such area: the establishment of civil, non-religious marriage and relationships. The idea, previously banned, finally allows people from two different religious sects to be legally married without one of them having to convert.

In both Lebanon and Syria, religious affiliation is not a personal choice but rather a legal fact included on documents from birth onward. This has contributed to the perpetuation of intense sectarian conflict and tensions for the past century.

Al Jazeera America:

Syrian Kurds Hmaren Sharif and her groom, Rashou Suleiman, signed the country’s first civil marriage contract over the weekend, under new laws administered by the ruling Kurdish Democratic Union Party.
In multi-confessional Syria, where about two-thirds of people are Sunni Muslim and the rest mainly Shia, Christian and Druze, civil marriages between members of different faiths have long been forbidden.

It is unclear if Sharif and Suleiman are themselves from different sects, as the new law does not require participants to disclose that information.

The introduction of civil marriage in Qamishli is seen as a measure to uproot rising sectarianism and undercut the authority of religious leaders over social institutions like marriage, 3arabi Online said.
Saturday’s ceremony, meanwhile, was lauded by civil marriage activists, who have been bolstered by a year of unprecedented progress in a region of the world where sectarian leaders wield much power over personal matters like marriage.

Kholoud Sukkarieh, one half of the first couple to obtain a civil marriage license in neighboring Lebanon, told Al Jazeera she was alerted to news of Syria’s first civil wedding when activist group Civil Marriage in Syria tagged her in posts about it on Facebook. She called the new marriage law “a great step forward.”

“It is so courageous and brave to do such a thing during this sectarian war in Syria,” said Sukkarieh, who had her Sunni sect designation struck from her official identification so that she could marry a Shia in April. She and husband Nidal have since welcomed Lebanon’s first sect-less baby into the world.