IN January 2011, hard-core Jesus junkie Mary Fallin became Oklahoma’s first female governor. She said in her inaugural address:
As today’s ceremonies come to a close, I’d like to ask for the help and guidance of my Heavenly Father. I pray for wisdom, discernment and strength for those of us chosen by the good people of Oklahoma to legislate and administer.
While Oklahoma Christians may take heart in the hope that the newly elected leader of our state takes her relationship with God seriously, one wonders how long it will take her opponents to leap upon her statements and accuse her of being yet another right-wing-religious-nut who wishes to force her Christian beliefs on one and all.
Motivated by clear biblical teachings, this writer has written several articles concerning the irritating habit of non-believers who claim that a believer’s belief somehow makes him/her less capable of executing the duties of public office competently. On the contrary, being led by God is the only way a politician, or anyone else, can live as they were meant to live.
Well, this week – granted, it’s taken a little longer than we anticipated – Fallin has been jumped upon for being a religiously-motivated right-wing nut for cutting spousal benefits for the ENTIRE Oklahoma National Guard.
But before we cut to the chase – Fallin’s ingrained homophobia – this is what you should know about the woman. When she was sworn in to office at an outdoor ceremony she promised in her oath to:
At the time, her spokesman blamed the cold weather, saying:
I was amazed that anyone was able to speak at all or get any of their lines right considering how cold it was outside.
Yesterday The Slate’s Joseph Stern Stern wrote:
Many at the time assumed it was a blunder. But as it turns out, Gov Fallin is true to her word.
In September, she vowed to prohibit Oklahoma’s National Guard from providing benefits to married same-sex couples, directly violating a Pentagon directive and a presidential decree. When the Pentagon said said “you cannot discriminate in this way” Fallin decided to remove ALL spousal benefits.
The Republican governor, in other words, would rather deny every soldier benefits than grant a few gay ones the rights they have been federally guaranteed.
He described her logic as being:
She defended her move by saying:
Oklahoma law is clear. The state of Oklahoma does not recognize same-sex marriages, nor does it confer marriage benefits to same-sex couples. The decision reached today allows the National Guard to obey Oklahoma law without violating federal rules or policies. It protects the integrity of our state constitution and sends a message to the federal government that they cannot simply ignore our laws or the will of the people.
Not to harp on the point, but this notion is so deliriously erroneous, so undeniably and doltishly wrong, that I can’t quite believe Fallin believes it herself. The military’s policy of providing spousal benefits to same-sex couples is not a gentle suggestion. It is a federal mandate, prompted by the president himself, extending from the Pentagon to each (federally funded, federally supervised) National Guard base.
It doesn’t matter whether the policy violates Oklahoma’s constitution: The Constitution of the United States declares in Article VI that ‘the laws of the United States … shall be the supreme law of the land’, regardless of ‘the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary’.
By presidential decree, the laws of the United States now require spousal benefits for gay soldiers; following that order is a constitutional requirement. And the federal constitution is not something a state governor can simply toss aside when it doesn’t suit her viciously homophobic beliefs.
Fallin, however, isn’t alone in her crusade of unconstitutional bigotry. Texas, Louisiana, South Carolina, Florida, and Georgia have all resisted the new policy as well, citing similar (and similarly fatuous) concerns about their anti-gay state constitutions. I’m not sure what these states’ excuse is – aside from virulent, unpatriotic prejudice – but at least Oklahoma has a defense to fall back on. The state elected a governor who, on her very first day in office, swore ‘to offend’ the United States constitution.
We can fault Fallin for many things. But we certainly can’t accuse her of going back on her word.