In Denying Marriage, Oklahoma Rep. Todd Russ Wins Dumbass Award

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Oklahoma Rep. Todd Russ' proposed law that would deny marriage licenses not only violates the Constitution, it makes him our latest Dumbass Award recipient. ( photo)
Oklahoma Rep. Todd Russ’ proposed law that would deny marriage licenses not only violates the Constitution, it makes him our latest Dumbass Award recipient. ( photo)

As February gets underway, we have a new Red Forman Dumbass Award Winner, Oklahoma State Rep. Todd Russ. What has he done to secure this infamy? Well, he has proposed a law that would deny the right to marry in his state to anyone who isn’t Christian or Jewish. Not only does that violate the Constitution, it serves to undermine the idea of marriage and family, which is kind of what bozos like him say they are trying to protect.

For those of you who haven’t watched the late and lamented “That ’70s Show,” Red Forman was a curmudgeonly father and a hard-working Korean War vet who just didn’t understand why his son and his friends behaved foolishly, so he had a term for them: dumbasses.

Previous winners of the Red Forman Dumbass Award are: Paul Ryan, George Zimmerman, Donald Rumsfeld, Eric and Charlotte Kaufman, Cliven Bundy, Karl Rove, Mayor Jim Ardis of Peoria, Ill., Maine’s Gov. Paul LePage, Congressman Duncan Hunter and Maryland County Councilman Kirby Delauter. The Kaufmans were the people who wanted to sail around with world with a toddler and a baby and had to be rescued by the U.S. Navy, and Bundy is the cattle rancher in Nevada who had a showdown with the Feds over unpaid grazing fees.

Read more: Past Recipients of the Red Forman Dumbass Award

Under Russ’ proposed law, HB 1125 if you wanna look it up, a marriage would have to be approved by “an ordained or authorized preacher or minister of the Gospel, priest or other ecclesiastical dignitary of any denomination who has been duly ordained or authorized by the church to which he or she belongs to preach the Gospel, or a rabbi.”

He explained his thinking, or what passes for thinking in his case, to local ABC affiliate KSWO 7. “Put it [marriage] back to what it was supposed to be and was originally a holy matrimony and a very solemn and spiritual vow.” A quick read of any history book will show this is bull. Marriage was, up until quite recently, a property contract.

Mr. Russ says that he wants to protect the clerks of the court from having to issue licenses to same-sex couples. He doesn’t want to put those state employees in a position of having to facilitate such unions. A minister would sign the paperwork and file it with the clerk. Sadly, if Russ knew his theology, he’d notice that the Lutherans don’t have a problem with same-sex marriage. The clerk would still be asked to facilitate, that is, file the paperwork, for same-sex couples. So, his bill doesn’t even achieve what he wants it to do.

As for non-believers, “They don’t have a spiritual basis for a marriage and don’t want to have a clergy member or a priest or someone involved in the spiritual aspect, then they can file an affidavit of common-law marriage.”

The problem there is that an Oklahoma common-law marriage is pretty shaky at best. Divorce attorney Jason K. Moore states on his website, “Common law marriage must be legally proved. Meaning, you must present evidence to a court that you and your spouse actually agreed to be married. If it cannot be proved, the judge can rule that it never existed in the first place.” Evidence of this includes a wedding ring, joint tax returns, etc. Yet he goes on to note, “It is important to remember that none of the above factors are necessarily enough to prove that the common law marriage existed in Oklahoma. It is just evidence that it did. A judge may find the existence of the common law marriage with none of the above evidence or with all of it.” So that affidavit isn’t worth much.

Then, there is the whole problem of what to do about those folks who have had civil ceremonies over the decades. When a Christian and a Jew marry, often they settle on civil ceremony to avoid upsetting family. Do they receive any protections? What about anyone married in a mosque or a Hindu temple before Todd had his brain fart?

And then we get into who’s a Christian or, as his bill words it, “preacher or minister of the Gospel.” Does that include Mormons, who are viewed by many “Christians” as a cult? And what of the Gnostic Gospels, such as the Gospel of Thomas? Would Unitarians be considered preachers of the Gospel since they deny the Trinity? And let’s not even get into the question of “Who’s a Jew?”

Russ doesn’t understand the Constitution, the history of marriage, the nature of Christian doctrine and just about everything else he’s legislating on. If that isn’t worthy of a Dumbass Award, what is?

Jeff Myhre is a contributing journalist for TheBlot Magazine

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