Democrat Responds To Homophobic Lawmaker: 'Them's The Rules, Bubby'
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Bell, (R-Magnolia), the author of failed legislation seeking to undermine the high court's ruling, has also called for the impeachment of justices who were in the majority. He made the comments in response to a question about why he doesn't consider Obergefell to be the law of the land.
“In fact, our Constitution has in place provisions that say the court cannot make law," Bell said. "So, the very laws that you’re talking about enforcing don’t exist, and the Supreme Court cannot create those laws. In order for a clerk in Texas or in any other state to have the legal authority to issue a same-sex marriage license, the state Legislature will have to act to affirm that legal right. Otherwise we have granted to the federal court system through the Supreme Court or a lower federal court the lawmaking provisions that are specifically withheld from the court.”
Bell's statement drew a strong rebuke from state Rep. Rafael Anchia, (D-Dallas), a staunch LGBT ally who was also a member of the panel.
"There’s this new case, I don’t know if any of you have seen it, it’s called Marbury v. Madison," Anchia said sarcastically, referring to the iconic 1803 case that cemented the Court's mandate of judicial review. His comment elicited laughter from the audience.
"It kind of puts in place the judicial branch’s ability to interpret the law, and then we do have supremacy principles. Again, not very well known out there, but them’s the rules, Bubby, and that’s where we sort of end up. It’s interesting when my esteemed colleague says there are no laws in place and we should respect the constitutional principles here. Well, the constitutional principle is the 14th Amendment, and that’s what being discussed. Do people have equal protection under the law? And to me, it’s kind of straightforward in that respect."
Bell responded that the 14th Amendment was intended to give freed slaves equal rights, not legalize same-sex marriage. He suggested that Anchia wanted to "throw out the Constitution."
"It may be, 'Them’s the rules, Bubby,' but the truth of the matter is, that’s not what our forefathers said, that’s what this generation says," Bell said.
Anchia, who's Latino, noted that the 14th Amendment also protects his civil rights, even though they weren't contemplated at the time.
"There are a number of different groups that are covered by the 14th Amendment despite what gave rise to the ratification in 1870," Anchia said. "I kind of like the 14th Amendment. I would not throw that out, because it protects me against bigots."
"I think bigots have used religion to discriminate against people for a long time," Anchia added. "Religion has been used as pretext to discriminate against African-Americans, against women, against gay people, for a very long time."
Anchia also held up a photo of John Stone-Hoskins, who successfully sued Texas in the wake of Obergefell after he was denied an accurate death certificate for his late husband. Anchia said he was supposed to have lunch with Stone-Hoskins on the day of the panel discussion, but Stone-Hoskins died in early October.
“When you talk about people wanting to delay and demure and fight against the implementation of civil rights, it has real impact on real people, and this is one of them,” Anchia said.
When Anchia asked what people like Stone-Hoskins should do when they're denied civil rights, Bell said they should "continue to live the way they’re living."
"The do have civil rights," Bell said. "They have the freedom to speak. They’re not a privileged class, which is the effort here."
The panel also featured Brantley Starr, deputy Texas attorney general; Jonathan Saenz, president of the anti-LGBT hate group Texas Values; and Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir, a marriage equality supporter who issued a license to a same-sex couple in February under a court order.
"He was saying if clerks have religious objections, state law allows them to delegate to others in their office," Starr said. "He was simply encouraging people to recognize those longstanding rights of the employees and the clerks themselves, and not necessarily telling offices they should shut down and not issue licenses."
DeBeauvoir responded that Paxton's opinion created confusion among clerks. One Texas clerk, Hood County's Katie Lang, was sued for refusing to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple, resulting in a $40,000 settlement.
"Many county clerks around the state read his letter to say, 'I’m free of this now, I don’t have to do this,'" DeBeauvoir said. "With all due respect to the attorney general, he did those county clerks no favor at all."
Saenz suggested that DeBeauvoir should have been jailed for issuing a same-sex marriage license in February, comparing her to Kentucky clerk Kim Davis. He alleged that same-sex marriage supporters want to punish people for exercising their religious liberties.
"It's a dangerous environment that we live in," Saenz said.
DeBeauvoir responded that during her 29 years in office, she's followed the law despite her personal beliefs.
"I was required to discriminate against my fellow brothers and sisters and not issue marriage licenses when it was a matter of civil rights," DeBeauvoir said. "Kim Davis was not thrown in jail for something about her religious obligations. She was thrown in jail for violating the law, for taking over her office and using it as a tool to impose her religious beliefs on everyone else in her county.”
Listen to the full discussion below.
Image: Screenshot via Agendawise/YouTube