Whatever you might think of Colorado Congressman Jared Polis, there’s no denying he brings an unusual level of good humor to his typically mirthless institution.
The latest example of this is the Boulder Democrat’s satirical rejoinder to colleague Steve King (R-Iowa). Last week, King quite seriously proposed a bill that would strip federal courts of their right to render decisions on same-sex marriage.
King’s “Restrain the Judges on Marriage Act of 2015” was offered ahead of this week’s hearings in the United States Supreme Court, which should decide whether gay marriage bans are unconstitutional. Currently, 37 states, including Colorado, allow gay marriage and 13 forbid it.
In response to King’s bill, which has virtually no chance of passing the House or Senate and would be vetoed by President Obama anyway, Rep. Polis announced the “Restrain Steve King from Legislating Act,” which would prevent the Iowan from “abusing taxpayer dollars by substituting the judgments of the nation’s duly serving judicial branch of government with his own beliefs.”
From the beginning, Polis’s announcement was intended as an act of pointed political gamesmanship designed to underline the desperation of King and his ilk. It’s a gesture meant in jest, which King’s legislation is decidedly not. King’s proposal also exposes his longtime hypocrisy about constitutionality, and not just because this bill probably isn’t kosher. It’s merely the latest example of him wielding that hallowed document loudly and proudly when it can benefit him politically and treating it like toilet paper when it’s more of an inconvenience.
The only openly gay parent in Congress, Polis has a more personal stake in the Supreme Court case than most of his fellow legislators, which is why making light of King’s thinly veiled bigotry shows admirable restraint. Even though King has long been considered one of the chamber’s more graceless statesmen and dimmest bulbs—particularly now that his friend Michele Bachmann no longer serves—the virulent opposition among social conservatives to gay marriage will remain, if not intensify, regardless of what the high court decides. (See: Roe v. Wade.) Kudos to Polis for remaining cool in the face of such searing discrimination, but anyone who stands for equality should be clear that a lot more of these retrograde efforts are still to come.
Follow 5280 editor-at-large Luc Hatlestad on Twitter at @LucHatlestad.