Lewis Diuguid

Battle continues to build over same-sex marriage

A fight keeps building between the federal government and some states over the issue of same-sex marriage.

Attorney General Eric Holder fired the latest salvo Monday, saying state attorneys general are not obligated to defend laws that they think are discriminatory. Missouri is among states facing legal challenges to its same-sex marriage ban, and some state lawmakers are even trying to impeach Gov. Jay Nixon over his position involving the subject.

Kansas came close to taking a step further with the House voting to allow people to refuse service to same-sex couples on religious grounds. Fortunately, the Senate backed away from the measure, which would have made the state look as if everyone in it was like the Fred Phelps and his Topeka-based, homophobic Westboro Baptist Church.

The Arizona Legislature, however, didn’t get it and passed legislation allowing businesses to refuse service to gay people because of religious reasons. The whole thing lands in the lap of Gov. Jan Brewer with calls for her to veto it.

If not, the state stands to lose millions of dollars with conventions and even the Super Bowl next year possibly pulling out of that state.

The action in Arizona follows state action against ethnic studies in schools, which also has led to conventions avoiding that state. Such restrictive action by states runs against the expansion of civil rights for more than 50 years.

President Barack Obama in 2011 came out in favor of gay marriage, and so did many other politicians. But people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender are not in a protected class in this country and can lose their jobs, promotions and face other discrimination such as in housing and public accommodations just because of who they are.

A likely showdown could occur between the president and certain states. It brings to mind President Dwight Eisenhower in 1957 ordering federal troops to Little Rock, Ark., to protect the Little Rock Nine in the integration of Central High School.

That was a hard-fought battle, following the Supreme Court ruling in 1954 — 60 years ago in May — ending legal segregation in this country. That battle hasn’t been officially won, yet.

Let’s hope cooler heads prevail to prevent such a confrontation with federal troops being called out against backward states that oppose same-sex marriage.