Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Civil Rights - A Matter of History?

Apparently charged up from his speech invoking the history of civil rights on the fiftieth anniversary of Brown v. Board in Topeka, Kansas, President Bush yesterday issued a press release "criticizing the Massachusetts court that legalized gay marriage," reaffirming his opposition to "activist judges," and pronouncing the "urgent" need for an amendment "protecting marriage as a union of a man and a woman as husband and wife." Ironically, on the same day the president touted the civil rights triumphs of the past, he proposed the only constitutional amendment in American history that would explicitly deny a group of Americans equal rights and privileges. As American Progress President John Podesta has written, "The Constitution has been amended to eliminate slavery, to give women the right to vote, and to secure for every person the equal protection of the laws. It has never been amended to mandate discrimination. Nor should it be."
Forwarded to me by a woman who tends toward the conservative side of the aisle, but sees the problems of our current president.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Ironically, on the same day the president touted the civil rights triumphs of the past, he proposed the only constitutional amendment in American history that would explicitly deny a group of Americans equal rights and privileges."

There is no irony here. Brown v. Board of Ed. was about guaranteeing rights to Americans regardless of the color of their skin. Our Constitution protects freedom of speech and thought. Constitutional law is clear in the religious arena, that while beliefs are protected, actions are not. You may believe in human sacrifice, but you can't do it unless you want to go to jail. There is nothing in the Constitution that suggests that marriage must be open to same sex couples. You want to protect a group that is defined by behavior and actions, not race or belief. Many African Americans are offended to have their struggles compared to the gay rights movement.

5/19/2004 11:45 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

There is plenty of irony, but your assumption that your religious judgments should be enshrined in our laws blinds you to that irony. Equal rights are equal rights. If a straight couple is entitled to state-sanctioned marriage, a gay couple should be entitled to the same thing.

I grew up Catholic, and am comfortable with the concept of being married in and out of the church. I could marry a divorcee in a civil ceremony or in a ceremony in a different church, but it would not be recognized by the church. It would be a perfectly legal marriage, but my religion was free to reject its validity.

The same concept needs to apply here, and most rational people support the idea. Let the state issue marriage licenses to gay couples, and let the churches reject those people they believe their god requires them to reject. Your opposition to gay marriage is based on your religion, so keep it there.

5/20/2004 7:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please show me where the Constitution requires equal treatment of persons based on their conduct as opposed to race or religion or speech.

5/20/2004 7:57 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Here it is -

Amendment XIV

Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. 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.

(Gay people qualify as persons, at least under my analysis. The only reason to deny them equal access to marriage laws is because some people want to impose their religion on the rest of us.)

5/21/2004 9:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess you're right. We better repeal laws that prevent boys from playing on girls sports teams (they're all people). We better get rid of the laws relating drinking age, driving age (restrictions on old people).

Men and women in this country currently have equal rights to get married. Marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman. The constitution does not require the creation of a new "animal" - gay marriage. What about folks who are just plain repulsive and can't find someone of either sex to pair up with. Do we need to do something else for them too?

Why does the country care about marriage anyway and why would we provide benefits for marriage? Because the historic marriage is the best environment in which to conceive and raise the next generation. You are kidding yourself if you don't think there is something unique and beneficial that children get from having a male and a female role mode. Two gay men may be better than a couple of psychopathic heterosexuals when it comes to parenting, but it would be hard to deny that a male-female couple who is healthy provides benefits that aren't found with a same sex couple.

5/21/2004 2:18 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

As for boys on girls teams, and old people driving, all I can say is that you are certainly quick to change the subject. And, as for the repulsive people - thanks for the straight line, but I won't take advantage. ;-)

I think there are benefits to growing up in a "normal" household, just as there are to growing up in a white household, or a wealthy one. So what?

The point you cannot address is that only bigotry prevents gay couples from getting married. If you have a church that does not accept gay couples, that's fine - your church can be just as hateful as it desires. But MY government should not deny gay couples the right to get married just because of YOUR religion.

5/23/2004 12:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How quickly you throw the "hate" card and make this an issue about "your" government and "my" religion. Why are you so certain that individuals who do not agree with your gay rights agenda are motivated by hate? Do you really believe that only those who share your views are loving and caring individuals?Has it ever occurred to you that some of us do not think the gay lifestyle is healthy and that we try to speak the truth because we care, even when accused of bigotry and hatred? Ask a doctor about GBS some time. Gay marriage won't solve that one unless gay marriage reduces gay sex. (Which is entirely possible, I admit, since it sometimes reduces sex for hetero couples. ; ) And when did "your" government get the right to redefine the word marriage (or other words in other languages meaning the same thing) as that word has been used for thousands of years? "Words mean what I say they mean" is the quote that comes to mind.

What is it you hope to gain for gay couples? Can they not live together now? Do they need the "rights" that come along with divorce? Is it the health benefits that would be available to their partners if they work for a large company? Some companies already provide that as you probably know. Is it a tax benefit of some kind? Are you concerned about inheritance? I'm just interested to know the motivation for your crusade. I really don't understand what "gay marriage" accomplishes.

5/24/2004 9:22 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Fair point on my use of "hateful" - the religious right's stance toward homosexuality often looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, but it isn't always a duck. Kind of like right-wing fascination with topics like GBS isn't always policy-related.

I won't back away from pointing out that this is a case of your religion trying to use my government to enforce
your religion's anti-homosexuality views on me and my friends.

This isn't about redefining a word. My definition of marriage has always been focused more on the relationship than on the gender. In some states, the definition includes gender, in others, it doesn't. I doubt this topic was on anyone's mind when they drafted the definitions.

Why am I "crusading" for this issue? (I should point out that I am not crusading for it at all. I've written no checks, organized no rallies, carried no signs. With do-nothing friends like me, the gay people hardly need enemies.) My main reason for supporting gay marriage is a belief in simple justice. If a straight couple has the right to get their relationship recognized by the state, then so should a gay couple.

What practical results am I hoping for? While there are some, I want to be clear that they are merely make-weight points that don't matter much at all compared to the simple justice issue. But, since you asked, I think that access to health insurance and intestacy issues are important. Ugly issues can even arise about who determines what happens to a deceased partner's body.

Perhaps a little more deeply, a marriage is an important commitment - and a ring-swapping ceremony in the rose garden is simply not the same thing. Marriage means you can't really break up without going through divorce.

Perhaps you'll understand the issue a little better if I take it out of the "queer" category. Why does a couple get married if they are not going to have children? That's why gay people should be allowed to get married.

5/24/2004 12:37 PM  

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