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Texas County Clerk Refuses to Issue Marriage Licenses to Gay Couples

| Fri Jun. 26, 2015 2:38 PM EDT
Supporters of gay marriage celebrate outside the US Supreme Court.

Despite this morning's landmark Supreme Court decision to legalize gay marriage across the country, at least one county clerk in Texas has refused to issue marriage licenses to two same-sex couples.

The Denton Record-Chronicle reports:

Denton County Clerk Juli Luke issued a statement that she would defer to guidance from Denton District Attorney Paul Johnson before issuing any marriage licenses in Denton County today to same sex couples.

"It appears this decision now places our great state in a position where state law contradicts federal law," Luke wrote.

A sign posted at the clerk's office stated that it would not issue licenses until it addressed "a vendor issue." But county officials may also be waiting for guidance from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who criticized the high court's ruling in a statement on Friday, calling it "a dilution of marriage as a societal institution." The Austin American-Statesman reported that at least two other counties are holding off issuing licenses, but that three—Travis, Bexar, and Dallas—had already done so following the ruling.

Tod King and Casey Cavelier, who visited the Denton County clerk's office on Friday morning to obtain a license after being together for 19 years, told the college newspaper North Texas Daily: "We were really excited this morning...We took a rainbow flag and hung it on the house. Then we came down here and got a little disappointed that they weren’t prepared for this."

Other couples were disappointed as well:

Obstacles to same-sex marriage weren't just remaining in Texas. Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood said in a statement on Friday that clerks would have to wait until the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals lifts a stay on a federal judge's order to overturn the state's ban on gay marriage.

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Friday Cat Blogging - 26 June 2015

| Fri Jun. 26, 2015 2:00 PM EDT

This is a bird's eye view of cat TV. Sort of like breaking the fourth wall, feline style. But how did Kevin get on TV? He was in here just a minute ago. Very fishy, no?

In a Few Years, Gay Marriage Will Be About as Threatening as Cell Phones

| Fri Jun. 26, 2015 1:30 PM EDT

Jonathan Bernstein gets it right on same-sex marriage:

Perhaps the most amazing thing about the Supreme Court’s decision today in Obergefell, which recognizes marriage as a basic right, is that it’s not going to be very controversial.

....How do I know? Because we’ve seen it in state after state in which marriage equality was enacted. There’s no controversy remaining in Massachusetts; for that matter, there’s little or no controversy remaining in Iowa, which had court-imposed marriage equality in 2009. On a related issue, conflict over gays and lesbians serving in the military ended immediately after “don’t ask don’t tell” was replaced four years ago. In practice, extending full citizenship and human rights to all regardless of sexual orientation and identity is actually not all that controversial — at least not after the fact.

I get the fact that gay marriage seems creepy and unnatural to some people. I don't like this attitude, and I don't feel it myself, but I get it.

But you know what? Bernstein is right. For a while it will continue to be a political football, but not for long. Even the opponents will quickly realize that same-sex marriage changes....nothing. Life goes on normally. The gay couples in town still live and hang out together just like they always have, and a few marriage ceremonies didn't change that. In their own houses, everything stays the same. The actual impact is zero. No one is trying to recruit their kids to the cause. Their churches continue to marry whoever they want to marry. After a few months or a few years, they just forget about it. After all, the lawn needs mowing and the kids have to get ferried to soccer practice and Chinese sounds good for dinner—and that gay couple who run the Jade Palace over on 4th sure make a mean Kung Pao Chicken. And that's it.

Are We Still Yammering About Whether the Civil War Was About Slavery? Really?

| Fri Jun. 26, 2015 12:56 PM EDT

Are we still arguing about whether the Civil War was really fought over slavery? Seriously? What's next? The Holocaust was really about Jews overstaying their tourist visas? The Inquisition was a scientific exploration of the limits of the human body? The Romans were genuinely curious about whether a man could kill a hungry lion? The Bataan death march was a controlled trial of different brands of army boots?

WTF?

Canada Warns: "Goldfish the Size of Dinner Plates Are Multiplying Like Bunnies"

| Fri Jun. 26, 2015 12:29 PM EDT

A Fish Out of Water was one of my favorite childhood books. A boy buys a goldfish and is warned not to feed him too much. But he does, and the goldfish outgrows his tank. Then he outgrows a flower vase. Then he outgrows the bathtub. Then he outgrows the swimming pool. Finally, the owner of the shop comes to the rescue and gets the fish back to its normal size. The boy promises never to overfeed his fish again. Lesson learned: listen to your elders. The End.

Except....what if this was more than just a charming kids' book? Could it actually have been a premonition of 21st century ecological disaster? What if there really were gigantic goldfish out there rampaging through our lakes and ponds?

If you have a goldfish, and you are kind of over that goldfish, to the point where you are now wondering whether it might be best to set that goldfish free, please rethink that decision. That's the request from the Alberta government, which is trying to get Canadians to refrain from dumping out their fish tanks into ponds. Because those ponds are filling up with those discarded goldfish, which are getting really, really big in the wild.

Or, as the CBC notes: "Goldfish the size of dinner plates are multiplying like bunnies."

If it can happen in Canada, it can happen in America. You have been warned.

Genius Conservative Compares Gay Marriage to 9/11, Pearl Harbor

| Fri Jun. 26, 2015 12:18 PM EDT

So, you're a conservative and you're upset that every state is going to be forced to be nice to gay people, so you take to Twitter to share your outrage and you reach for a simile. Not just any simile but, like, a good simile—one that has a strong tradition and is emotionally evocative and will let everyone know you mean business. Ding! Ding! Ding! You've got it!

Now you're getting those faves, you're getting those retweets, you're getting those hateful replies. You're liking this feeling. You're flying high. You're on a cloud. You're on the moon, my love. You are a starship leaving this goddamned solar system! You want to chase the feeling. You want more. You want to never stop feeling like this. Why would anyone ever want to not feel like this? But how can you top Pearl Harbor?

You know what to do, baby. You know what to do:

Bryan Fischer, ladies and gentleman.

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Obamacare Still Isn't Safe, and Liberals Better Not Forget It

| Fri Jun. 26, 2015 12:07 PM EDT

Greg Sargent warns Democrats not to get complacent about Obamacare:

House Republicans are still forging ahead with a separate lawsuit against Obama over the law (though it may not be resolved for years). Conservatives like Ted Cruz are still calling for holding spending bills hostage to roll back the ACA. GOP presidential hopefuls Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Bobby Jindal, and Cruz are all pledging to keep up the fight to repeal Obamacare — “every single word,” as Cruz puts it.

....Democrats should take continued GOP opposition to Obamacare very seriously. It has serious real-world consequences. As long as states hold out against the Medicaid expansion, it could slow the law’s efforts to realize its goal of expanding coverage. One thing this means is that Democrats should redouble their efforts to regain electoral ground on the level of the states, where future decisions about the Medicaid expansion will be made.

When Obama won the 2012 election, I figured Obamacare was finally safe. Except....there was still the Supreme Court. But they mostly upheld Obamacare, and once again I thought it was finally safe. Whew. Still, Republicans kept fighting. And things remained dicey as long as Obamacare was still vaporware. Then it finally went into effect in 2014, and disastrous rollout or not, I figured that was it. Once it's actually helping millions of people, it's safe. But wait! Then there was another Supreme Court case. But that dropped this week, and Obamacare was once again upheld.

So now Obamacare is finally safe, right? You'd think so, wouldn't you? But Republicans are obsessed with Obamacare like no other law that's been passed in decades. It's kind of scary, the same way it was scary watching the unhinged Captain Ahab stumping around the Pequod. So no, Obamacare is still not safe. Not unless Democrats win at least the White House, and maybe both the White House and the Senate, in 2016. At that point, Republicans will finally have to give up. They'd have no plausible path to repeal, and by 2020 the law would have been in place for seven years; it would be covering upwards of 25 million people; and the health care industry would  be so plugged into Obamacare's rules that it would literally take years to extricate them if the law was repealed.

It sounds bizarre—not least of all to me, who badly underestimated how long Republicans could stay maniacally fixated on Obamacare—but it won't truly be safe until and unless Democrats win in 2016. I sure hope Democrats figure this out. If you want to know what we're up against, use Kevin's Quick Zeitgeist Test. Type "Obamacare" into Google and then go to image view. Here's the URL:

https://www.google.com/search?lr=&cr=&safe=images&gws_rd=ssl&um=1&ie=UTF-8&hl=en&tbm=isch&source=og&q=obamacare&sa=N&tab=wi&ei=-HSNVfnbNMLFggSu7YbIAw

Now do a quick count of pro vs. anti Obamacare images in, say, the top 50 results. Not counting neutral photos, I put it at about 10:1 for the haters. These guys aren't giving up. Those of us who support Obamacare had better show a similar level of passion for keeping it around.

Mike Huckabee Set the Bar Really High for the Worst Reaction to the Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

| Fri Jun. 26, 2015 11:22 AM EDT

As of 10:01 a.m. on Friday, marriage equality was the law of the land, effectively ending one of the most divisive debates in American politics over the last decade.

Unless you're former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, that is. Earlier this week, even before the Supreme Court issued its ruling, the GOP presidential candidate called on conservative Christians to engage in a massive "Biblical disobedience" campaign against the "false god of judicial supremacy," comparing the widely expected majority decision in the gay marriage case to the Dred Scott case that upheld the Fugitive Slave Act:

For a lot of believers, the question comes, do we have civil disobedience, or do we have Biblical disobedience? For many of us, civil disobedience—when we believe that the civil government has acted outside of nature, and nature's god, outside of the bounds of the law, outside of the bounds of the Constitution—we believe that it's the right and the moral thing to do. Now I understand that's a very controversial thing to say. But Todd, what if no one had acted in disobedience to the Dred Scott decision of 1857? What if the entire country had capitulated to judicial tyranny and we just said that because the Supreme Court said in 1857 said that a black person wasn’t fully human—suppose we had accepted that, suppose Abraham Lincoln, our president, had accepted that, would that have been the right course of action? And I don't know of anyone, I mean seriously, I don't know of anyone who believes that the Supreme Court made the right decision in Dred Scott.

In the war for marriage equality, Huckabee is the lonely Japanese soldier dutifully defending his island bunker years after the last shots were fired. He just doesn't know it yet.

Supreme Court: Gay Marriage Now Legal in all 50 States

| Fri Jun. 26, 2015 11:14 AM EDT

Jeez, sleep in a few minutes and you miss out. This has turned out to be lefty week at the Supreme Court:

In a long-sought victory for the gay rights movement, the Supreme Court ruled on Friday that the Constitution guarantees a nationwide right to same-sex marriage.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote the majority opinion in the 5 to 4 decision. He was joined by the court’s four more liberal justices.

No surprises here: it was the four liberal justices in the majority plus Anthony Kennedy, who has long been sympathetic to gay causes. And the timing was about right. It's one thing to say that marriage is quintessentially a state issue, but common sense dictates that states should (a) have roughly the same rules, and (b) should respect each other's marriages. Gay marriage has now been approved in enough states that it was time to set a nationwide standard. It's one thing for different states to have different waiting times or different medical requirements, but not fundamentally different rules on who can get married in the first place.

And for those who think the Supreme Court is locked away in a bubble, take a look at the chart on the right. 57 percent of all Americans now approve of same-sex marriage and 70 percent of those between the ages of 18 and 34. This was a freight train, and obviously Kennedy thought it was time to get off the tracks and get on board.

So hooray for the Supreme Court this week. They saved Obamacare; they saved non-discrimination requirements in low-income housing; they saved same-sex marriage; and they ruled that the government has to pay for any raisins it seizes. All in all, not a bad way to end their term.

The Supreme Court Just Legalized Gay Marriage Everywhere. Read the Opinion Here.

| Fri Jun. 26, 2015 10:02 AM EDT

On Friday, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of gay marriage in the historic case of Obergefell v. Hodges, a decision which effectively invalidates bans on gay marriage.

Read the opinion in its entirety below: