In Texas, Hood County Clerk Katie Lang had refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples for well over a week after the Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges. The conservative group Texas Values rallied in her defense and even the Family Research Council propped up her discriminatory cause.
Monday morning, Cato and Stapleton filed a federal lawsuit, which describes their experiences being rejected as “humiliating and degrading.” Less than two hours after the suit was filed, Lang’s office issued the couple a marriage license.
When the Tea Party wave arrived in 2010, it swept away much of the Republican Party’s existing structure, and instituted a more populist approach. But as waves tend to do, it left some even older debris in its wake. “Nullification,” the theory that states can invalidate federal laws that they deem unconstitutional, had its heyday in the slavery debate that preceded the Civil War, but it has found new currency since 2010.
The theory has never been validated by a federal court, yet some Republican officeholders have suggested states can nullify laws, including Senator Joni Ernst, who gave the GOP rebuttal to the State of the Union. Missouri legislators passed a bill that would have nullified all federal gun laws and prohibited their enforcement. My colleague James Fallows has described efforts by Republicans in Congress to block duly passed laws—refusing to confirm any director of an agency established by an act of Congress, for example—as a new form of nullification.
Now Mike Huckabee seems to be opening up a new front. The Supreme Court last week agreed to hear a case on whether same-sex-marriage bans are unconstitutional. There’s no such thing as a sure bet with the Court, but many watchers on both sides of the issue believe the justices will strike down the bans. Some conservatives seem resigned to the fact that the fight is lost; not Huckabee. Here’s what he told radio host Hugh Hewitt Tuesday:
WASHINGTON (AP) — The writing is on the wall for gay marriage bans in Kansas, Montana and South Carolina after federal appeals courts that oversee those states have made clear that keeping gay and lesbian couples from marrying is unconstitutional.
But officials in the three states are refusing to allow same-sex couples to obtain marriage licenses without a court order directing them to do so. It could be another month or more before the matter is settled.
Based on what I’ve read in this article about an appeals court rejecting Utah’s ban on gay marriage, I’m hopeful that the US Supreme Court will finally decide to take on a gay marriage case. With the striking down of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the Supreme Court stopped just short of declaring that every state in the union must allow gay marriage. As a result, gay rights advocates have been forced to try to get same-sex marriage legalized one state at a time.