Wednesday, June 13, 2012

It's Juneteenth For Texas Gay Republicans!

On June 19, 1865, Union Major General Gordon Granger landed at Galveston, Texas with the news that the Civil War was over and slaves were free. Please note that this was two and a half years AFTER the Emancipation Proclamation became official on January 1, 1863. The date June 19th was coined "Juneteenth" and annual celebrations marking the end of slavery in the United States began in Texas but later spread to other states.

On June 26, 2003, the Supreme Court handed down its decision in the Lawrence vs. Texas case declaring Texas sodomy laws unconstitutional. The statute in question - or the Texas "Homosexual Conduct" law - made it a Class C misdemeanor to engage in "deviant sexual intercourse with another individual of the same sex".

Despite the Supreme Court decision, the Texas Republican Party Platform continued to include language to reinstate Texas sodomy laws. Maybe  - like the Texas slaves in the 1860s who didn't get the news about being free until two and half years later - the Texas Republican Platform Committee did not get the news about Lawrence v. Texas. Until this past weekend, that is. Almost nine years to the day Lawrence was announced, Texas Republicans removed the sodomy language from the state party platform.

Whether the removal was due to finally acknowledging the Supreme Court decision or whether it was due to people realizing that sodomy laws could also ensnare straight people, really doesn't matter. This is a step in the right direction and something to applaud.

But (you knew that was coming) the Texas GOP party platform still has a long way to go when it comes to same sex marriage. It states, "We support the definition of marriage as a God-ordained, legal and moral commitment only between a natural man and a natural woman, which is the foundational unit of a healthy society, and we oppose the assault on marriage by judicial activists."

Recently there have been several decisions declaring DOMA unconstitutional. Legal challenges to California's Proposition 8 are working their way up to the Supreme Court. It is quite possible, if not probable, that bans on same sex marriage will be declared unconstitutional. If that were to happen, how long will it take for the Texas GOP to receive the news? Any bets?