Texas eyes plan to circumvent courts on marriage

Texas State Capital
Monument to the Texas Rangers and the Texas State Capital on Sept, 5, 2007 in Austin, Texas.(AP Photo/Scott A. Miller)
Much of the nation is awaiting word from the Supreme Court on marriage equality, though as msnbc's Emma Margolin reported this week, some are biding their time in unconstructive ways.

In a little over a month, the nation's highest court is expected to answer two burning questions – whether the U.S. Constitution requires states to license same-sex marriages, and whether it requires states to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other places. But in Texas, lawmakers are working on their own answers to each: No and no, thank you very much.

In theory, the legal dynamic seems fairly simple: if the Supreme Court's majority rules that states must extend equal-marriage rights to all adults, the dispute is effectively over. Some Republicans will no doubt suggest changing the U.S. Constitution, but marriage equality, depending on the ruling's scope, may be national policy with next month's ruling.
In practice, however, Texas is planning ahead, working on a proposal to circumvent a possible Supreme Court ruling conservatives won't like.
A bill pending in the Republican-run Texas House would prohibit local officials from providing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. In other words, the Supreme Court might very well tell the nation that marriage equality is the law of the land, but at the same time, Texas would tell its clerks, "Not here it isn't."
The msnbc report took a closer look at the "Preservation of Sovereignty and Marriage Act": "If enacted, the legislation would prohibit state or local government employees from recognizing, granting, or enforcing same-sex marriages. It would also prohibit state or local funds from being spent on 'an activity that includes the licensing or support of a same-sex marriage.'"
If this sounds like a nullification scheme, you're not far off. This is Texas' way of deliberately defying a possible Supreme Court ruling.
It's ironic, in a way, that the right has invested considerable energy of late in condemning President Obama as some mad tyrant who ignores the rule of law, and yet, it's Republican policymakers who push ridiculous gambits like these.
The GOP-led state House is likely to pass the legislation today, before heading to the Republican-led state Senate, which would likely do the same. Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has not yet taken a public position on the issue.
Marriage equality is already legal in most states, so a progressive Supreme Court ruling, though obviously historic, would really only change the legal landscape in 13 states.
But as Texas is helping demonstrate, the fights in those 13 states may get ugly.