“Marriage licenses are just going to be another way to legitimize people who aren’t supposed to be here in the first place.”

In a way, I’m embarrassed to admit that it took seeing that Tribe and Play had been singled out for scrutiny under our bizarro anti-immigrant laws for me to start to wonder how the two things–hatred of homosexuals and hatred of Hispanics–might be linked.

But I saw this post over at GoldenI’s about how, for the first time in ten years, people can get married in Tennessee without having to prove their immigration status and that sent me over to this article in the Tennessean. I point you to the following:

Multiple state and federal courts have upheld that the government can’t bar a person from marrying simply because they or their partner are a member of some specific group, said James Blumstein, a Constitutional law professor at Vanderbilt University.

“There was a case rather appropriately called Loving v. Virginia that settled that matter,” Blumstein said about the 1967 U.S. Supreme Court case that struck down laws barring interracial couples from marrying.

He said the government has to prove a marriage it opposes would have a negative impact on the country.


Arriola, elected clerk in 2006, said he never wanted to turn couples away over immigration-related paperwork. “That was the state law, and I was obligated to uphold it,” he said. “Personally, I think anyone should be able to marry.”

He predicted a spike in marriage license applications once couples heard about the policy change, but it was quiet Friday inside the back room of the Davidson County Clerk’s Office where couples come to complete marriage license paperwork. Only the department’s employees and its Web site signaled there was any change at all.

Arriola said he is a friend of the Rev. Joseph Breen, pastor of St. Edward Catholic Church, who pressured him for years about the law. Last year, St. Edward coordinated a trip for 20 mostly Hispanic couples to obtain marriage licenses and legally wed in Kentucky, where clerks don’t require immigration-related paperwork. Breen then married them in the church when they returned.

“Truly, everybody should have the right to get married, and the state should not have any rules or regulations against that,” Breen said. “What we’ve been doing here is a real shame. So we wanted to help these couples.”

Theresa Harmon, co-founder of Tennesseans for Responsible Immigration Policy, said she worries Davidson County’s new policy will draw illegal immigrants to Tennessee from surrounding states and make it harder to deport them. She plans to talk to lawmakers about overriding it.

“Marriage is a human right, and I believe in families,” she said. “But I’ve had to do some hard soul-searching on these kinds of issues.

“Marriage licenses are just going to be another way to legitimize people who aren’t supposed to be here in the first place.”

How can you read this and not see, waiting in the wings, the US citizens in our country who want to be able to marry each other?

And seeing Theresa Harmon saying so clearly that marriage can be a way of legitimizing people who aren’t supposed to be here in the first place, to me, strikes me as being so true that I had to sit back in my seat.

Of course, I disagree about whether gay people or brown people or whoever are “supposed” to be here, but what I’m saying is that, to me, this seems like a clear articulation of what the stakes are.  Some of us are running around trying to legitimize people and others of us are trying to prevent that from happening.

I don’t know that I had really gotten that until now.

8 thoughts on ““Marriage licenses are just going to be another way to legitimize people who aren’t supposed to be here in the first place.”

  1. Theresa’s right!
    Any kind of legal form contributes to their arguement.

    So now they have a “Certificate Of Marriage”.
    They take that certificate to another state, use it as a form of ID and get a driver’s license!

    No telling what all they can do with it. They’re experts in identity theft.

  2. “They”? Who they? Those same “they” that anti-immigration people also insist can’t speak English, don’t bother to try to learn about US institutions or history, don’t contribute to the economy because they don’t pay taxes, and so forth?

    So which way are we playing this today? Are “they” are collectively so brilliant and able to seamlessly pretend to be “us” that “they” are a threat (because they are smart, ambitious, and socially adaptable and god knows that Americans aren’t that)? Or are “they” are so incapable of being assimilated that “they” will never be us (because they are brown, or Catholic, or bi-lingual — none of which you want in your white Protestant English-only Fortress America)? Or was it “they” are contaminated social garbage, a human contagion of anchor babies, drug dealers, and TB patients (because, you know, tubercular babies have long been known to be ringleaders in the identity theft trade?)

    Damn, how do you stand being so ridiculous?

  3. No, no, it’s teh gays who get drivers licenses that way. Experts in identity theft? Who else stole American identity and replaced it with disco?

  4. sure, marriage to a U.S. citizen can “legitimize” one’s presence in the country — that’s how i came here, myself. but it’s not as if “la migra” aren’t aware of, and on the lookout for, sham marriages of convenience; they’ve always been possible. my partner and i did get flat out asked if we’d consummated our marriage, in those words, to our faces, and we’re both white.

    getting “married” purely in order to immigrate is and long has been illegal; the government does already have real powers to deal harshly with you if they find out you’ve done that; and immigrations enforcement (the agency of the ever-changing acronym) has never been famous for any reticence to use its powers against suspected illegal immigrants. so why one single state should need extra laws against it escapes me. states have no authority to enforce immigrations law anyway, that’s federal jurisdiction.

  5. “How can you read this and not see, waiting in the wings, the US citizens in our country who want to be able to marry each other?”

    That was my thought exactly. And I also don’t have any real opposition to illegal immigrants getting married.

  6. I don’t believe the government be in the business of deciding which marriages are legitimate and which are not. The government should enforce contracts, recognize as next of kin people who want to be each other’s next of kin, etc. But calling a relationship a marriage gets into the legitimizing and illegitimizing business. It would be much simpler to just call ‘civil unions’ government licenses declaring two people next of kin with certain interests in each other’s property, and leave the job of assigning the marriage label to individuals, their families, and their religious communities.

  7. Pingback: These Are The Stakes : Post Politics: Political News and Views in Tennessee

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