So, North Carolina, there you were, all warm and snug in your little castle, settling down for a long night's sleep, and you hear a commotion in the henhouse. You know you shut and bolted that door at dusk, even set a heavy limb against it to brace against varmints, but the hens are squawking, so you pull on your pants and a heavy coat, and you trudge out there with a good flashlight and your pistol, but you find the door still secure, the hens on their roost looking ... well, sheepish ... and you think, "Did I dream that squawking?" before you turn for the house. And then you feel it! The hot breath of the U.S. Constitution on the nape of your neck, pursuing you and your Amendment One, and you just know it in the pit of your well-fed stomach, you know you're about to be caught by a Raging Justice!Yesterday, U.S. District Judge Terence Kern struck down the state of Oklahoma's constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, an amendment that, like North Carolina's Amendment One, was passed by a public referendum.
Judge Kern described Oklahoma's ban on same-sex marriage as "an arbitrary, irrational exclusion of just one class of Oklahoma citizens from a governmental benefit."
Judge Kern also said, "Equal protection is at the very heart of our legal system and central to our consent to be governed. It is not a scarce commodity to be meted out begrudgingly or in short portions. Therefore, the majority view in Oklahoma must give way to individual constitutional rights."
The equal protection of the 14th Amendment is not a scarce commodity to be meted out begrudgingly or in short portions. How plain, how direct, how couched in the metaphor of the family dinner table! You cannot, saith the judge, spoon out equality "in short portions."
This clear-eyed judge also said, "Exclusion of just one class of citizens from receiving a marriage license based upon the perceived 'threat' they pose to the marital institution is, at bottom, an arbitrary exclusion based upon the majority's disapproval of the defined class. It is also insulting to same-sex couples, who are human beings capable of forming loving, committed, enduring relationships."
All these constitutional points nailed home by Judge Kern were raised in North Carolina by many people in the spring of 2012, as voters approached the May primary during which our discriminatory Amendment One was enacted.
Get ready, North Carolina. You may not be next, but your day of reckoning is surely coming!