In the 20th century, the South, desperate to preserve its system of racist social hierarchy, set up Jim Crow laws at the state level, creating explicit legal discrimination on the basis of ethnic identity across the region. The rights that many Americans enjoyed in the North and West were taken away from them when they crossed state lines into Dixie.
Southern politicians said it was a matter of liberty. Discrimination to restrict individual legal rights was part of the freedom of states’ rights, they said.
Now, in the 21st century, Senator Ted Cruz is trying to Jim Crow marriage. Yesterday, the Republican politician introduced S. 2024, a bill that would push back against the federal government’s recognition of the legal status of same-sex married couples. Under S. 2024, couples who are married in one place would walk across state lines, and find themselves suddenly single again – even in the eyes of the federal government.
Under the new states’ rights philosophy that motivates S. 2024, the United States of America would devolve, once again, into a hodge podge of different territories, without a consistent system of legal rights shared between them. That’s not a good arrangement for anyone – heterosexual or homosexual.