Oklahoma Republican Would Rather Ban All Marriages, Including Straight Ones, Than Legalize Marriage Equality January 26, 2014

Oklahoma Republican Would Rather Ban All Marriages, Including Straight Ones, Than Legalize Marriage Equality

Here’s the newest Republican platform regarding marriage equality: if you can’t beat them… screw everyone else over.

After a U.S. district judge ruled earlier this month that Oklahoma’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, State Rep. Mike Turner missed the point and filed legislation to ban it again. Now he’s taken it a step further, suggesting that Oklahoma should stop recognizing any and all marriages, same-sex or different-sex.

Rep. Mike Turner

“[My constituents are] willing to have that discussion about whether marriage needs to be regulated by the state at all,” Turner said.

Other conservative lawmakers feel the same way, according to Turner.

“Would it be realistic for the State of Oklahoma to say, ‘We’re not going to do marriage period,'” asked News 9’s Michael Konopasek.

“That would definitely be a realistic opportunity, and it’s something that would be part of the discussion,” Turner answered.

There’s not a great explanation of how this would work or which of Turner’s constituents would get behind it. It’s safe to assume that already-married couples in Oklahoma would be furious if their benefits were taken away from them — what’s that? You mean you don’t like having your rights taken away? — and it’s unclear how this would fit in with federal marriage recognition. For example, would this cause a mass exodus out of Oklahoma for married couples who didn’t exactly want their marriages invalidated? And if this only applies to new marriages, and already-married couples could stay married, how’s that for inequality?

While plenty of people have long advocated for marriage to be a purely religious union and not a governmental one, IndyPosted‘s Steph Bazzle adds to the list of questions that make this an implausible solution, making it clear that it would actually create more problems than it would solve:

“Get the government out of marriage altogether” isn’t exactly a new proposal, but it doesn’t answer any of the real questions.

For instance, one of the reasons marriage can be important for some couples is health insurance. Currently, in states where gay marriages are illegal, a straight couple may be able to both be covered by one’s employer-provided insurance. For a gay couple, this may not be an option.

Or, if one partner faces a terminal illness, the other, in a marriage, can be involved in medical and legal decisions in cases where a non-married significant other can not. …

Further, how would couples who were, perhaps, married by their church but not recognized by the state, fit the rules for federal benefits of marriage?

If, way back when, society had decided that “marriage” would be exclusively a religious practice, with no benefits involved whatsoever, and that benefits could only be given through governmental civil partnerships, then fine. There’s still a major issue with certain religions locking same-sex couples out of their traditions, but that system would lend itself much more easily to giving everybody the same rights, regardless of some religious folks’ feelings getting hurt. If only we’d been doing it that way all along.

But now? This isn’t a solution. Marriage is pretty societally established as is — both a religious and governmental entity, unfortunately — and because we’re probably never going to abolish it entirely, getting rid of it in just one state will only complicate things for gay and straight folks alike. Literally nobody benefits from this solution. It’s a conservative temper-tantrum, and I’ll be shocked if it gets anywhere.

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