Changing culture vs. changing laws: gay marriage

It is important to understand the distinction between changing culture and changing laws.   Legal institutions (courts, legislatures, or leaders) might grant rights to people, but other people (some of them prejudiced) are likely to impliment those laws.   Many will circumvent legal changes and continue to use systems of power to discriminate.

Thus we have a lengthy history of changes in law that required years of enforcement.  For Example, federal troops being sent to Arkansas to protect the Little Rock Nine — black students attempting to enroll in a previously white high school.

It is worth viewing the 30 for 30 “Ghosts of Ole Miss,” an ESPN documentary that gives some similar context to educational changes for civil rights.

It is always worth taking note of the tactics used to resist change.  Thinkprogress has an astounding rundown of the circumvention efforts of Hood County (Texas) clerk Katie Lang to deny Jim Cato and Joe Stapleton a marriage license.

Since June 29, the Monday after the ruling, Jim Cato and Joe Stapleton, who have been together for 27 years, have been trying to obtain the marriage license they’ve waited so long for. When rejecting them, Lang claimed that her staffers would issue the license instead, but Cato and Stapleton were then told they couldn’t be helped because the clerk’s office did not have the new gender-neutral forms, which would supposedly take “three or more weeks” to arrive.

Last Thursday, they brought their own copy of the state’s new form, and still they were refused a license. When they insisted, Lang told everyone to leave the office and called the Sheriff’s Department, who stood guard but did not force anyone out. Cato and Stapleton had been in touch with their lawyer, who arrived at Lang’s office to deliver a letter warning of a suit if a license wasn’t issued. A staffer began to process their application, but then asked, “Which of you will be the husband?” When they insisted upon the new form, which lists “applicant 1″ and “applicant 2″ instead of “husband” and “wife,” the staffer then refused to accept their payment of the $83 fee. Lang reappeared and confirmed that they would still have to wait several weeks to get their license anyway because she had to wait for revised certificate forms, even though a different-sex couple could have filed the form and left with a license the same day.

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.

via This Is What Happens To Court Clerks Who Refuse To Issue Same Sex Marriage Licenses | ThinkProgress.

Cheers to Cato and Stapleton for their fierce pursuit of equal rights.

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Filed under Gay, gender, human rights, representation, resistance

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