The Problem with Alabama

First of all, sorry for the lack of posts latey. Just been busy with life — you know how that goes. I have a couple of ideas rattling around in my head right now, so I’ll hopefully shake one of them out into a blog post soon.

In the meantime, I wanted to post this article that a friend pointed me toward today. Many of you probably don’t know, but last week, a federal judge in Mobile, Alabama struck down a state ban on gay marriage, which made us the 37th state to legalize gay marriage. It was great news! However, to no one’s surprise, there’s been a huge outcry about it, and many of the state politicians are pushing hard against it. This article brilliantly captures the way I feel about it:

After same-sex marriage ruling, a question: Are we American? Or just Alabamian?

54 thoughts on “The Problem with Alabama”

  1. Outstanding article. Welcome back Nate. Your post reminded me of a recent article from The Atlantic regarding nullification.

    “Mike Huckabee suggests that if the justices rule that gay-marriage bans are unconstitutional, states don’t need to listen.

    It’s a ticket to dissolving the union, all in the name of preventing same-sex unions.”


  2. I’ll check out that article, thanks! Yeah, those kinds of calls for ignoring the federal government make me really nervous. I’ve been reading Doris Kearns Goodwin’s A Team of Rivals, and while I don’t think we’d ever have another actual civil war, I think it’s too serious a topic for politicians and public figures to throw around terms like that so casually.


  3. Interesting article. It has been my understanding that the USA was created a free society, and a Republic to ensure those freedoms were preserved for all citizens, unless someone’s freewill act infringes upon the freedoms or rights of others.

    Gay marriage seems straight forward for me now: two consenting people partnering with whom they choose and benefiting from this nation’s and states’ tax breaks, and other typical spousal allowances like visitation, insurance, etc…

    But admittedly, being raised a christian, and in a time where most homosexuals remained in the closet for fear of persecution, I initially viewed them as detestable and wicked, like Goliath or the monsters in the dark. As I grew older, i realized they were simply people like the rest of; people with a particular tendency to specific sin, much like i had my tendencies to different sins. I didnt look down on them, but felt pity that they were so compelled to a sinful lifestyle. For me, being hetero, I could leave my lustful, carnal and sinful desires by marrying someone of the opposite sex. In other words, I didn’t part with lust or desire, i simply had a way to indulge “legally. and according to the bible, homosexuals had no such out.

    Now, of course, i don’t view homosexuality as sinful, but natural, even if i still do not understand such an attraction specifically.

    I do think that “marriage” has always meant “a union between a man and a woman.” It’s obvious as you view it through history and I typically don’t like altering definitions, but this is different. But even if one still thinks homosexuality is a sin and therefore same sex marriage, they should be able to see that as members of a free society, the citizens should be free to do as they will as long as it does not infringe upon the rights and freedoms of others, whether you approve of those actions or not.

    in this particular case, letting a man marry another man, or woman marry another woman in no way infringes upon a heterosexual’s rights or freedoms… now, if there was a law that said heterosexuals couldn’t wed, well then, then they’d have something.

    It is like those in Alabama, and elsewhere, that oppose this so strongly care very little for the constitution that they claim to regard so highly. Perhaps they’re only referring to the second amendment.


  4. William, I suppose you’ve already heard this, but lawmakers in Mississippi want to make the Bible the “Official” State Book. They don’t expect many in the state will oppose the bill. But they would be in a uproar if someone tried to make the Qur’an the Official State Book.

    The state ranks last in nearly every category of well being and it’s not for lack of religion, as they are the most religious state in the union.


  5. I’d also like to stress that the reason I brought up the bill in Mississippi was that if they can get this law passed (and they probably will) then chances are they will have more of a foothold in instilling biblical ideologies at state level, such as the belief that homosexuality is an abomination.


  6. Think what you will about gay marriage, or immigration, or God, or atheists, or prison inmates, or black people and white people going to school together, or slavery, or all the other things we have fought the Americansabout over the years.

    Wow. Like, “Hey guys, look at all these times when we’ve been on the wrong side of history.” And presumably(?) most “Alabamians” would side with him on those issues now.

    I don’t think that MyState-ian vs. American thing is even a meme in my state. I guess it’s more common in the south. (Texas comes to mind.)


  7. That is crazy about MS. Isn’t that in direct opposition to the first amendment? I am not a lawyer, but I have seen my share of LA Law, and it just seems like that even if such a law was passed, that it would be overturned by the supreme court shortly thereafter.

    but again, I’m no lawyer, I’ve just watched them on TV.



  8. I think (I could be wrong) that the thing in MS is much like choosing a state bird, state flower, etc. So there’s not necessarily anything binding that would come with it, which is why it wouldn’t run counter to the constitution. But I agree with Neuro that it’s still unfortunate, and some probably would attempt to use it (if it passes) as kind of a backdoor way to gain more support for things like creationism in the schools, etc.


  9. Objection. I think the strict reading of the constitution would still forbid it. “The First Amendment (Amendment I) to the United States Constitution prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion… ”

    Declaring affiliation of a state or government entity to the bible or any other religion in any way still seems counter the amendment, but I’m no lawyer – not even a tv lawyer.

    But you do make a good point about it being just a mascot.

    Mississippi. Another state that i never want to live in.


  10. I don’t think that MyState-ian vs. American thing is even a meme in my state. I guess it’s more common in the south. (Texas comes to mind.)

    Yeah, it’s unfortunate. And I don’t want to give the wrong impression — I love living in the South, and there’s a lot of great things about it. The urban areas tend to be more progressive, so it’s not always as bad down here as it’s sometimes portrayed. However, there is still kind of an element of “redneck ignorance” that is really frustrating, as these recent spots on the Daily Show illustrate:


  11. Yes, it is in direct opposition, but they are using the excuse that it’s just “symbolic”.

    However, does it also not go against the 1st Amendment to have “In God We Trust” on government issued paper currency and coins? Does it go against the 1st Amendment when state tags have “In God We Trust” as default? South Carolina does, and Mississippi is pushing for it. They already have “In God We Trust” posted in all Mississippi classrooms. Is it against the 1st Amendment to have the Pledge of Allegiance say “under god”?

    I think so.


  12. I will consider that, Neuro. I dont usually get upset (lack of a better word) over the use of god, even though it does leave out the atheists agnostics. Is the generic idea of “god” considered religion? I suppose that maybe it is, but without identifying which god or which religion associated with that god, it’s not imposing too much.

    I suppose that in the USA one would also be free to maintain that their god is no god or that their god is nature or simply a name given to an idea of good for humanity,

    or my favorite, god is the humanist ideal of man and woman. That perfect circle that man and woman should be and must work toward. It encompasses all of humanity or every race and nationality and sex.

    but i realize this is a stretch.

    Religion is hard for people to part with. Although i don’t know why that is, I know that it is. because of that knowledge I am willing to be patient and make concessions… and avoid moving to Mississippi.


  13. nate, this is a separate issue, but since one of your daily show links discussed it, I decided to comment here on it.

    Obviously, Alabama was using some underhanded means to combat abortion, but if we leave the specifics of that state issue and view abortion on a whole, i can certainly understand people’s opposition to it.

    It’s often portrayed as a fight against women’s rights, but i don’t think that is a fare approach either, and is also underhanded.

    People on both side may argue this incorrectly, but i understand the desire to protect human life, whether it’s in the womb or not, whether it’s young or old, etc. And with children and the unborn, they are human lives that often cannot speak for themselves or defend themselves. To demonize those who try may not be helpful, just like demonizing the 17 year old girl who is seeking an abortion is not helped by name calling or labeling either.

    often issues and problems are not as simple as they may seem.

    Even in the video, the daily show journalist was mockingly asking, “how do you know the fetus is innocent?” Had the old man been on his toes he would have replied, “I don’t, and since we’re a nation that believes in innocent until proven guilty, I think it is prudent to seek legal counsel before we deliver it a death sentence.”

    but these a merely soundbites that don’t do the topic justice.

    I am not opposed to the death sentence to to killing. The killing of innocents and the very young trouble me, but the execution of certain people for select criminal offenses is fine with me. Killing in war or self defense is also fine in the correct setting, in my mind.


  14. Be careful, William … be verrrry careful. You may have opened a can of worms here.

    Captain Cassidy recently posted something on this. You might want to visit for a very in-depth look at the issue.

    One of the biggest complaints that pro-choice people have is the anti-abortion people also want to shut down Planned Parenthood — where women can go for INFORMATION about preventing pregnancies that they can’t afford or don’t want in lieu of having abortions.

    But, like I said … this is a topic that can definitely raise one’s blood pressure on either side.


  15. It really is sad. The language they are using to deny these people their rights is the same that was used in the 50’s and 60’s to oppress african americans in the south. If the church cared as much about keeping married hetro couples together as they do keeping homo couples apart they might actually do something for the ‘sanctity’ of marraige.


  16. Published on Jan 25, 2015 from the American Foundation for Equal Rights

    “There’s a big fight underway right now in Alabama, with a Judge overturning a marriage ban and state officials refusing to obey his order to issue licenses. Anti-gay politicians are threatening to ban all marriage licenses if the Supreme Court rules in favor of equality. And one lawmaker even wants to send clerks to jail if they issue licenses to anyone — gay or straight.”

    For those who prefer to read:

    I agree It’s an intimidation campaign at taxpayers expense.


  17. Good points, nan. I do agree that many in the pro-life or anti-abortion camp go too far and are too often underhanded and hateful in their handling the issue. I do not associate with those groups and do mind discussing this issue, but do not want to fight over it – if that makes sense.

    I was speaking more to it all generally and trying to point out that the pro-choice camp can do the same.

    the daily show wasn’t wrong to mock the absurd and inconsistent approach of Alabama in this area, but would have been more fair to scrutinize their positions a bit more too, i think.

    I’ve heard some say that abortion is even necessary to prevent over population or the rise in poor and maltreated populations. But if that;s the way to view it, is it fair to use deaths from natural disasters to criticize presumed deity oversight when we condone the destruction of unborn human lives? I realize there are the circumstances where the life of the mother is at risk, and such scenarios are often referred to in defense of abortion, but is that accurate? Are most abortions performed for that reason?

    I fully support abortion to save the life of the mother. And although I personally would wrestle with it, i wouldn’t condemn others from having an abortion over rape or even birth defect, but is that why most abortions occur?

    I don’t loose sleep over this topic. I am just curious about it. to me, there are inconsistencies on both vocal sides.

    To you, is it as easy as “right to choose,” or is there more to it?


  18. Oh my, and speaking of intimidation…LOL

    “A gay Alabama state representative is warning her Republican colleagues to stop attacking the LGBT community if they don’t want her to reveal their dirty little secrets.

    Patricia Todd made the threat on Facebook after she could no longer tolerate the anti-gay hatred coming out of the mouths of her fellow lawmakers in the statehouse. As leverage, Todd wrote that she intends to name which “family values” Republicans have or are committing adultery against their spouses in their heterosexual marriages.

    “I will not stand by and allow legislators to talk about ‘family values’ when they have affairs, and I know of many who are and have,” she declared. “I will call our elected officials who want to hide in the closet out.”


  19. Guys like Huckabee make bold statements about leaving the union or ignoring federal laws only to pander to their base… or, scarier, they actually think god will preserve them. yikes.

    They, o rat least their constituents, fail to realize the gravity of such moves. if these politicians aren’t careful, they could spur an ignorant base to rise up in defense of their right to oppress others.

    “Why, by today’s liberal standards, there’d be no america at all, as we would not have been allowed to steal it from the indians and mexicans! Hurrah for Dixie!”


  20. William, yes, a big determining factor in my personal beliefs is the “right to choose.” I just don’t think ANYONE has the right to make decisions for another individual unless they ask for it. In ANY aspect of life.

    Too many anti-abortionists try to make it as though a woman has an abortion just because she doesn’t want a baby. Period. This is sooooo inaccurate. There may be a few (very few) that take that stand, but for most it’s a much more serious issue and a heart-rendering decision that stays with a woman for a long, long time.

    But we’re getting away from the topic of Nate’s post. Apologies, Nate.

    On topic: I tend to think many of the bible-belt states care less about what “America” stands for than what they believe “the bible” dictates. Or at least what they think it dictates.


  21. “I tend to think many of the bible-belt states care less about what “America” stands for than what they believe “the bible” dictates. Or at least what they think it dictates.”

    I agree, Nan. Your bible-belt states have a high concentration of fundamentalist, and they are indoctrinated to believe that God’s word trumps all. Politicians are experts at emotional manipulation.


  22. On topic: I tend to think many of the bible-belt states care less about what “America” stands for than what they believe “the bible” dictates. Or at least what they think it dictates.

    Yep, I think you’re right, Nan.

    Neuro, I also saw the Patricia Todd thing — I thought it was hilarious! 🙂

    As far as abortion is concerned, I agree with what Nan just said about it. I don’t know of anyone who favors abortions — it’s just that it’s way too big of a decision for anyone other than the parents (specifically, the mother) to make.

    And as for the death penalty, I’m completely opposed to it. Our justice system is just too imperfect to take someone’s life. War, in my opinion, is different because a soldier is having to defend against someone else who is actively trying to take his life. I feel the same way about self defense. But when we’ve arrested someone, and they’re locked away, I don’t think it’s right to take their life. We’ve made mistakes in the past that have killed innocent people. It also takes so long for a death sentence to be carried out, that I worry we’re not even killing the same person, if that makes sense.

    Anyway, those are my thoughts on our little detour. I now return you to the program already in progress. 🙂


  23. “I tend to think many of the bible-belt states care less about what “America” stands for than what they believe “the bible” dictates. Or at least what they think it dictates.”

    it’s an odd thing, because you’re right, yet when it’s convenient, they’ll chant alongside the constitution in an almost paradoxical fashion.

    back to the abortion issue, let me say that I respect your opinion and even agree with you on how many and maybe even most “pro-lifers” treat the issue. I will say, from a certain perspective, that having an abortion is making a decision with the life of another human. I suppose that the scared preteen who delivered her baby in an ally or theater restroom and leaves it in the trash is going through a very difficult time as well, and while we may sympathize with the girl, we still draw a line at those actions.

    Please don’t take this as me picketing abortion clinics or condemning those who are for or who get abortions, i’m just trying to think over the issue from every angle. I lean toward “pro-life,” but do not associate with all that the term has come to imply.

    I think these are complicated issues that are difficult to articulate and ofetn lead to conetntious divisions – i want no part in that, on this issue.

    Pro-choicers aren’t simply whores who hate babies, and pro-lifers aren’t simply old men who rage war against women. it’s complicated.


  24. it’s complicated.” You summed it up perfectly.

    I’ve found complicated issues are fodder for debate on blogs, even though they often rile people up and can even cause hard feelings. But since anonymity generally reigns, I doubt the discussions will be stopping anytime soon. 😉


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