By Robert Mann
When the day comes that the U.S. Supreme Court overturns all state laws outlawing same-sex marriage, how do you suppose Louisiana’s political leaders will respond? Will our governor and Legislature bow to the Constitution, as interpreted by the high court? Or, will they resist and declare war on the justices, as many Southern politicians did in the 1950s after the court unanimously ruled against public school segregation?
I’m hoping for the former, but experience tells me to expect the latter.
Southern states have rarely been at the forefront of social progress. Most, including Louisiana, did not revoke their laws against interracial marriage until after the Supreme Court’s 1967 ruling in Loving vs. Virginia. Alabama finally repealed its ban in 2000. Mississippi’s Legislature didn’t ratify the 13th amendment, which outlawed slavery, until 1995.
Lest you sneer too much at these examples of embarrassing, retrograde behavior in other states, recall that as recently as 2009, a justice of the peace in Tangipahoa Parish refused to marry an interracial couple. Consider that Gov. Bobby Jindal refuses to accede to the Supreme Court’s recent annulment of the Defense of Marriage Act. Note that Louisiana has not repealed its anti-sodomy legislation, which the Supreme Court annulled in 2003.
In 2012, after East Baton Rouge sheriff’s deputies were discovered still enforcing the anti-sodomy law – entrapping gay men at a local park – gay rights advocates and other decent, sensible individuals were outraged. For a moment, it appeared the Legislature would finally repeal the law. State Rep. Pat Smith has drafted legislation to abolish the odious language, but the consensus at the Capitol is that the unconstitutional law isn’t going anywhere.