Insomnia Log

This is what keeps me awake at night???

Who needs sleep? (well you’re never gonna get it)
Who needs sleep? (tell me what’s that for)
Who needs sleep? (be happy with what you’re getting,
There’s a guy who’s been awake since the second world war)

-- words and music by Steven Page & Ed Robertson

Location: Boulder, Colorado, United States

Everything you need to know about me can be found in my posts

Friday, January 27, 2006

What About the US Constitution Don't You Understand?

Today's pop civics quiz:

When is it acceptable for a religious group to write their beliefs into law?
  1. When their beliefs are based on tradition.

  2. When a majority of people share their religion.

  3. When a majority of religions share their belief.

  4. When a majority of people share their belief.
If you guessed E, none of the above, congratulations, you understand a very basic concept key to the first amendment to the US Constitution. If you said anything else, it is time for a brush up.

Here is clue for next time: The Bill of Rights is not designed to protect the rights of the majority. It is designed to protect the rights of the minority from the whims of the majority.

A coalition of religious groups in Colorado is either not smart enough to understand this, or they are trying to pull another one over on us. The group, called Coloradans for Marriage, is backing an amendment to the Colorado State Constitution that would restrict marriage to one man and one woman. Note that this restriction is already part of Colorado law, and the amendment, if passed, would serve only to protect the law against claims that it is in violation of the state constitution.

If you are a regular reader of my essays, you know that when religious groups push political issues I get very concerned on constitutional grounds. It comes perilously close to asking legislators (and the public, in this case) to sanction an official state religion. In this particular case, there are churches and other religious groups that believe the opposite of what has been proposed, so my alarm bells are going at full volume.

Let's look at the group's arguments, and see if there is anything of merit that is not based in a particular religious belief.
  1. Marriage between one man and one woman is rooted in centuries of tradition.
    Tradition here being a code word for religion. In any case, one person's tradition is the next person's cultural baggage, and that same tradition is completely irrelevant to the third. Tradition does not imply value.

  2. Marriage between one man and one woman is best for children.
    Ok, now you have insulted my Grandma, as well as my wife and me. To say that you are protecting children makes the assumption that the only purpose for marriage is procreation. If your argument is followed to its conclusion, then any marriage in which children are not planned is not valid. You definitely owe an apology to all of us who marry for love or other reasons.

  3. We are protecting Coloradans from activist judges.
    You know and I both know that an activist judge is only in the eye of the beholder. It is any judge that rules contrary to the beliefs of the person making the charge. In my mind, any judge that would allow a law that so clearly violates the First Amendment is an activist judge.

  4. People [gays] do not have the right to redefine marriage for the rest of us.
    Nobody is redefining anything for you. You are free to believe that gay marriage is wrong. You can ban gay marriage in your church. You can boycott gay marriages. You can even refuse to marry somebody of the same sex.
When two gays marry it does not in any way impact the "institution" of marriage, nor does it hurt any straight marriage in particular. No fewer straights will marry, and the straight marriages that happen will have the same success and failure rates.

It may be that you truly believe that gay people are on their way to hell. Fine. Believe that. Tell them that. Just don't try to pass laws to turn life here into hell.

It may be that gay people disgust you. Fine. Be disgusted. I can sympathize, because I feel the same way about people that try to write their religion into law.
However, I will not try to pass a law or a constitutional amendment to outlaw your behavior.

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