Oh Lord, Save Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia. Hell, Make It the Whole South, Amen
Poor Dixie. Heads are exploding across the South as change, arduous but inexorable, makes its way across a God-fearing landscape even less able to graciously accept it than the rest of us. Faced with stunning images from the current battle over gay marriage in Alabama, southern states are responding with ever more defiant legislative moves aimed at stopping time. Among their crackpot schemes: Declaring their states Christian, English, prayerful, straight, Bible-based and in no need of "tyrannical" health care, thanks.
Even as a Georgia family sues a school system they charge is bullying their agnostic kids into praying, Tennessee is fighting a righteous battle against any effort to expand Medicaid, or as a truly wacko minister offered in her tearful prayer before the state Senate, to save downtrodden Tennesseans from "wicked courts from on high...that we would not be forced into these edicts from Washington DC or any other quarter, but let the people know that our coverage is the same as with Moses and the children of Israel when they went through the wilderness with only the divine providence of almighty God." Tennessee is also trying to add the Bible to Tennessee's other symbols as "the official state book." The proposal seems at odds with a provision in the state Constitution declaring that "no preference shall ever be given, by law, to any religious establishment or mode of worship," but God willing they'll find a way around it.
Mississippi has likewise adopted, with a vengeance, the gambit of seeking God's help in keeping the gays and other heathens at bay. Two lawmakers, along with 20 co-sponsors, have also introduced a bill to make the Bible their official state book, arguing that more Bible-reading would help with "all the things going wrong in the world," though they insist the bill "don't force anybody to do anything." Last year, they note, Mississippi put "In God We Trust" on the state's seal, and "this isn't any more out there than that." Both efforts fit nicely into a broader, Tea-Party-driven initiative dubbed the Magnolia State Heritage Campaign, working to put a constitutional amendment on the 2016 ballot, that would proclaim the state once and for all Christian, nostalgic for slavery and otherwise all-American. The amendment would declare Mississippi "a principally Christian and quintessentially Southern state," the Bible "a foremost source of her founding principles," prayer "a respected, meaningful and valuable custom of her citizens," English its official language, the 1894 flag its state flag, its university teams "the Rebels," their mascot the plantation owner "Colonel Reb," their song "Dixie,"and the month of April "Confederate Heritage Month," complete, obviously, with the flying of the beloved Confederate flag. The ACLU opposes most of this, noting the problematic aspects of a culture "steeped in historical discrimination based on race.” But God willing etc.
Mississippi is also fighting a legal battle to continue banning same-sex marriage. Despite this week's Supreme Court decision to leave in place a court ruling declaring their own ban unconstitutional, so is Alabama, or at least part of it. After their Ten-Commandments-loving, George-Wallace-emulating, federal-authority-dismissing Chief Justice Roy Moore decided to fight what seemed to everyone but him a clear if tentative legal victory for same-sex marriage - he bizarrely argued that while he has some lovely gay friends, same-sex marriage could lead to fathers marrying their daughters and he Just Can't Allow That - the legal status of gay marriage in the state is so confused that authorities have issued a color-coded, county-by-county guide on the issue.
Moore's WTF insistence the feds have no say over what happens in his state has been applauded by the likes of some weird guy exorcising gay demons in the parking lot where gay marriages were being performed, and anti-LGBT Family Research Council head Tony Perkins - "Other states may roll over and play dead as the federal courts trample their laws, but not Alabama! There's an organized resistance developing in the Deep South, and it might just be the turning point on marriage that many Americans have been waiting for." - and the Klan, which issued a call to arms to "help in massive protest's (sic) that are surly (sic) coming against tyranical (sic) Federal judges." Wrote its United Dixie White Knights' imperial wizard on Stormfront, "The good people from the heart of Dixie are resisting (the feds') Imperialist, Communist Homosexual agenda...set to push this abomination, on the God fearing people of Alabama."
Sorry, guys. The thing is, this abomination - aka change - is coming. That became even clearer today, with yet another federal court ruling telling county officials, in effect, we mean it so stop stalling. It's coming even to Alabama, which still has the lowest approval rating for same-sex marriage in the country, and thus represents what many have long predicted would be its last battleground. And it should be coming. This week, a minister was arrested for trying to perform a same-sex wedding in one of the contested counties; after she posted bail, she returned to court to urge state officials to be "on the right side of history" - the side, she said emotionally, where "love wins." Weighing in on the same theme last night, Jon Stewart was pretty brilliant. But this Alabama good ole boy, speaking for the Redneck News, is even better.