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

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Have You been Propositioned?

Fourteen simple words:
Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.
And with those words, and the vote of 52.2% of the voters in California, the rights of roughly 120,000 people to wed in that state (estimated for three years) were taken away.

But shouldn't the wishes of the majority be respected? The voters in California (along with Colorado and 28 other states) have spoken. Well consider these very first words from the Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;
As well as the Fourteenth Amendment:
No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Clearly the U.S. Constitution has the authority to overrule any state's individual constitution and statutory code. Clearly the freedom from establishment of religion and the right to free exercise qualify as "privileges" and "immunities" under the Fourteenth Amendment, meaning that states cannot abridge these rights. And clearly, equal protection of the laws means that one class of people can't be subject to one set of laws while another group is subject to another.

Here's an analogy: The majority of the citizens of the State of Utah are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Mormons have a number of beliefs and practices that are not necessarily adhered to by the majority of other members of society. For example, it is against Mormon law to have premarital sex, masturbate, view pornography, or have sexual fantasies. They also believe it is wrong to consume coffee, tea, tobacco, and alcohol.

There is nothing wrong with those beliefs. But suppose they were to put them on the ballot in Utah, and because Mormons have a majority in that state they were able get these aspects of their religion passed as state law. Because a majority believe it, it would be illegal to have a sexual fantasy or drink a cup of coffee.

How many people would consider that a violation of the principle of separation of church and state? How many people would be up in arms about their inability to get a cup of Starbucks, or watch just about any network television program?

Now, consider what has happened with gay marriage. Marriage is clearly a profoundly religious issue. A large percentage of weddings are performed by religious officials and/or in religious facilities. It is considered a sacred bond, and many religions speak out loudly on issues related to marriage. To many, gay marriage is an abomination. To others, it is a sacred celebration of love.

Although many weddings and unions are purely civil and secular, they cannot be separated from religion. In fact, ministers have been arrested for performing gay weddings.

That's right, they have been arrested for freely exercising their religion, something that is spelled out clearly as a fundamental right in the Bill of Rights.

When our country was formed, the founding fathers had the idea that there were certain rights that are so basic that they cannot ever be taken away by the government. Not by Congress. Not by majority rule. Not by any individual state.

When gay marriage is allowed, its opponents lose nothing, except for the comfort of knowing that gay weddings are not taking place. But when gay marriage is banned, an entire class of people lose out on the sacred, emotional, financial, and other benefits of this institution. And that just isn't right.

One of these days, this issue will be brought in front of the U.S. Supreme Court as a First and Fourteenth Amendment issue, and I don't see how they could come to any other decision.

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