What’s wrong with Texas and the other five Southern states who refuse to grant benefits to spouses of National Guard members?

Steve RamosIf the state of Texas was a person, let’s say a man just to make it fun, he’d be on Dr. Phil trying to explain why he likes to get kicked in the rear every few decades.

There was that little thing called secession, which didn’t work out too well for Tex and the other 10 Southern states that wanted the feds to leave them alone. The result was the federal government put its boot so far up the Confederacy’s behind, they tasted leather for years, no — decades.

You’d think Tex would have learned from that, but no. He came back for more of the same about 100 years later. The federal government told Tex and his Southern buddies to end segregation, but Tex — too stubborn to remember what happened in 1865 — said he wasn’t taking down the Colored Only and White Only signs over the water fountains and entrances to restaurants, schools, theaters and other businesses.

So, Uncle Sam shoved the boots back on and gave Tex what for. Mississippi and Alabama got the worst of the stomping, but then they were acting the worst. Uncle Sam only had to stomp his foot, and Tex complied. But it still took a threat to end segregation in Texas.

Now, bad-tempered Tex is at it again. This time, he’s refusing to comply with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s order that gay spouses of National Guard members be given the same federal marriage benefits as heterosexual spouses.

Hagel’s decree, which applies to all branches of the military, followed the Supreme Court’s ruling in June that struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act that had prohibited the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages.

So what’s wrong with Tex? Dr. Phil might say he’s masochistic because it’s clear he keeps coming back for more beatings. But what’s wrong with a state that consistently straddles the road leading to social progress and kicks the traffic aside? What’s wrong with a state that cares more about outdated dogma and has to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into an era where people are treated with the respect that is their birthright?

So resistant is Tex to change that in the early 1960s, a crowd, partly of Junior League women, verbally and physically assaulted Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson as they walked across the street to the Adolphus Hotel in Dallas. They hit Lady Bird on the head with a sign and spit on her. Their crime? President Johnson had turned on his own and pushed the Civil Rights Bill through Congress.

How dare he elevate blacks to a position only occupied by whites? It was bad enough they were freed from slavery. Now equality?
Segregation in those days was even preached from the pulpits. W.A. Criswell, the pugnacious pastor of First Baptist Church in

Dallas, the largest congregation in the U.S. in the 1950s and 1960s, preached God ordained inequality. Harnessed to Tex, the churches fought to maintain segregation and used their Bible to defend it. And that didn’t happen just in the back woods churches of East Texas but in the noble religious palaces where Texas’ well-heeled worshipped a Jew.

Today, it’s the same song, different singers. Tex, cheered on by the fundamentalists who have pushed him into the ring with Uncle Sam repeatedly and with calamitous results, says he can’t give spouses of National Guard members the benefits the federal government orders them to have because Texas doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage.

With the mindset of the segregation era, Texas officials say the spouses can register at federal military installations, which for many, requires long round-trip drives. The notion is similar to  the one that once demanded separate — but what state officials then insisted were “equal” — water fountains and bathrooms.

Poor Tex. He just hasn’t learned. Texas is one of six Southern states that is defying Hagel’s order to extend the benefits to same-sex spouses of National Guard members, but he’d rather take the beating that’s going to come than comply. And there will be a beating, and he will comply.

So let me give you a little lesson in history, Tex. You didn’t win in 1865, and you didn’t win in the 1960s. You won’t win this one, either.

Just grow up, for crying out loud. We’re sick of your embarrassing stupidity.

Steve Ramos is senior editor of Dallas Voice. He can be reached at editor@dallasvoice.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 15, 2013.