Just how horrible are the homophobes in Oklahoma’s legislature? About as bad as the segregationists who blocked school integration in the 1950s.
By now, you may have heard that Representatives Todd Russ and Sally Kern have come up with some truly insane antigay laws in response to our recent marriage victories. Russ wants to completely ban marriage altogether — as in, nobody, gay or straight, can get married. If you’re caught issuing a marriage license, you would go to to jail for up to a year. That sounds impossibly nuts, but it’s actually really honestly what he’s proposed.
In a way, it’s not too different from how the Governor of Arkansas responded to Brown v. Board of Education. Rather than allow black students to attend classes with white kids, Governor Orville Faubus (what a name) closed all of the high schools in Little Rock for a year. If the white families couldn’t have their segregated schools, then by God nobody will have any schools!
Apparently Russ is such a close student of racist politicians that he’s taken a page straight out of Faubus’ playbook with his marriage proposal. And just like Faubus, Russ knows that of course he’s going to lose; there’s no way he can actually ban marriage. But that’s not the point. His only goal here is intimidation, making LGBTs feel unwelcome, and scaring whipping up anti-gay sentiment among his ignorant followers. Then when there’s an act of homophobic violence, he can disavow it and say something like “well of course I’d never condone violence” when in fact is hateful rhetoric is exactly what created the environment where violence flourishes.
Kern, on the other hand, is just a kook. She proposed various bills that would prevent the state from paying any employee who allowed gays to marry, and also to force gay kids into abusive “ex-gay” torture camps. (Her son Jesse Kern, it’s worth noting, is DEFINITELY NOT GAY, no sir, absolutely one hundred percent straight, absolutely.) Once again, she knows this won’t pass. And yet she’s pushing it anyway — not because she actually believes she’s being a leader, but because she wants to make life miserable for the gays.
At this point, they’re not even trying to hide their admiration for segregationists.