As we come to the close of a very contentious primary season, i.e., a very normal primary season, the Harris County Republican Party has let its crazy uncle out of the basement and he did exactly what crazy uncles do – wreak havoc. In doing so, he has provided those of us who believe in the U.S. Constitution with an opportunity to demonstrate our belief in that unique document. Or, we can continue to proclaim our belief in it while our actions prove otherwise.
The Crazy Uncle – Dr. Steve Hotze
On Friday, someone at the HCRP unlocked the basement and gave Dr. Steve Hotze the keys to the HCRP email list. Whether it was Chair Jared Woodfill or his hired lackey John Griffing doesn’t matter – the guy got out of the basement and embarrassed himself and the party. On the off chance that you might not have read or heard of the crazy uncle’s remarks in relation to a federal judge’s ruling on gay marriage, here they are, in all their glory:
“This is an astonishing example of judicial activism and a violation of the separation of powers. Whatever the personal views of Judge Garcia, he does not have the power to makes laws. Our Founding Fathers would be furious to find out that the Constitution was being interpreted to allow sodomites to marry,” stated Dr. Steve Hotze.
Suddenly the whole internet was full of noise because he used the word sodomites. Methinks that neither the crazy uncle nor the people yelling and screaming about his remarks actually know the meaning of the word – if they did, they’d probably laugh it off because I’d guess that few people in the country would be allowed to marry. But I suppose that people know what Hotze intended by that statement. If not, he changed it up in an email he sent under his own group’s name, Conservative Republicans of Texas Saturday:
“This is an astonishing example of judicial activism and a violation of the separation of powers. Whatever the personal views of Judge Garcia, he does not have the power to makes laws. Our Founding Fathers would be furious to find out that the Constitution was being interpreted to allow homosexuals to marry,” stated Dr. Steve Hotze.
Okay, so the guy means homosexuals, presumably male and female alike. The only reason this episode is worth talking about is because someone, Woodfill or Griffing, allowed it to go out under the party’s banner. If that mistake costs Woodfill the Chairmanship of the party, so be it. You might say he earned it.
What does the U.S. Constitution say?
That’s the easy part but we need to start with the Declaration of Independence to understand the issue in total.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
That would be ALL MEN. Men in this case being mankind. We are all created equal, even if some of us may have different skin colors, different color eyes, be right or left handed, more or less intellectual ability, different sexual orientation: we are still all created equal.
The Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads:
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
So regardless of the particular attribute by which the majority of society may point to and say “You’re different!”, all of us, as citizens of the United States, have the right to equal protection under the Constitution.
The time has come for marriage equality
We do not live in a theocracy. Our country is not a church. And that is by design. The Founders of this country insisted upon religious freedom. Obviously, the religious beliefs, or lack thereof, of every voter inform our laws through the people they elect to represent them. But the Constitution guarantees that the majority of voters in any state cannot override the basic protections outlined in the Fourteenth Amendment for any minority group – to do that would require another amendment to the Constitution.
It is time to recognize that homosexuals have the same rights as any other citizen. I suppose that states could simply stop recognizing all marriages, like a state representative in Oklahoma is attempting but that seems to be rather extreme. Short of that, all citizens should be treated equally under the law.
The Argument of the Federal Judges
Chairman Woodfill does himself no favors when he describes a federal judge as a “petty would-be dictator” in the same email that featured the HCRP’s crazy uncle. The judge may be an “activist judge” or he may not be – I suspect that some day soon the U.S. Supreme Court will say not, but we’ll have to wait on that. For now, here is his argument:
“After careful consideration, and applying the law as it must, this Court holds that Texas’ prohibition on same-sex marriage conflicts with the United States Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process. Texas’ current marriage laws deny homosexual couples the right to marry, and in doing so, demean their dignity for no legitimate reason. Accordingly, the Court finds these laws are unconstitutional and hereby grants a preliminary injunction enjoining Defendants from enforcing Texas’ ban on same-sex marriage,” United States District Judge Orlando L. Garcia said in a Feb. 26 ruling.
That doesn’t sound like an activist or a petty would-be dictator. It sounds like a man trying to follow the law and apply it equally to all citizens. Recently, five other judges have come to the same conclusion.
Freedom and liberty strengthen our nation
Your marriage is not under attack. The institution of marriage is not under attack. What is under attack is the oppression of a minority of citizens in the United States. And that oppression should not be acceptable to anyone that believes in the Constitution. Nor should it be acceptable to anyone in the Republican Party, a party that traces its roots back to Abraham Lincoln and the abolition of slavery. A party that once claimed Martin Luther King, Jr. as a member. We must be the party of freedom and liberty for all people.
A press conference featuring the crazy uncle
Unfortunately, it looks like Chairman Woodfill will allow the crazy uncle to represent the HCRP again at a press conference tomorrow at 10 am at party headquarters. As a supporter of Woodfill in this election, that is disappointing but will not sway my vote – the stakes are too high to put someone in charge that, in my view, will be detrimental to the future of the party. Traditional marriage is a firm plank in the party platform and as Chair of the local party, a case can be made that it is his responsibility to defend the platform. As I have maintained throughout this primary, being the spokesperson for the party if at least half the job and Jared does it well. My hope is that Jared’s eyes open and he begins to understand that this issue has nothing to do with his faith, the faith of the crazy uncle, or anyone else’s faith.
This issue is, wholly and simply, about the U.S. Constitution and the equal protection of all of the citizens of the United States. You are free to have whatever religious views you wish on any issue, including this issue. That is also in the Constitution.
HCRP leaders should boycott this press conference
The email advertising the press conference reads:
On Monday morning, March 3, 2014, at 10 am, a news conference will be held at Harris County Republican Party (HCRP) Headquarters, 3311 Richmond Ave., Suite 218, where local Republican leadership, including party workers and public officials, will stand shoulder to shoulder with people of faith to denounce the lawless ruling of a federal court seeking to impose the whims of unelected judges on the people of Texas.
I hope that doesn’t happen. I hope that the only two people behind the microphone are Jared and the crazy uncle. In fact, I wish that Jared would cancel that press conference and focus on winning his election.
I understand that is not going to happen. Some elected officials believe that their faith requires them to oppress this minority group. Some elected officials would rather not be there but will bow to pressure from the crazy uncle because he has such widespread influence in the party.
But know this. The days of the crazy uncle having that kind of influence are waning. We saw it at the last meeting of the HCRP Executive Committee where precinct chairs bucked the leadership. We are going to see much more of that in the future. There is a chorus rising in the party from people that believe in freedom and liberty.
For those of you saying that you are going to quit the party if the crazy uncle doesn’t go away, I say stand your ground. For those of you chastising me for supporting Jared and saying that you are going to quit the party if he wins, I say stand your ground. I promise you that if Paul Simpson wins, I will stand my ground. Sometimes, doing the right thing takes you out of your comfort zone. Trust me, it does. But discomfort is no excuse for not doing the right thing.
Now is not the time to run. Now is the time to fight. Don’t let the courage of Chris Busby go to waste. If you believe, as I do, that all citizens should be able to participate equally in all of society under the law, stand your ground. We will win this fight. If you abandon your post and allow the Republican party to wither away, you are allowing the crazy uncle in the basement and enemies of freedom and liberty to prevail.
And that is simply not an option.