Wednesday, December 14, 2005

 

A larger issue than Sue Ek

From the online 15B debate, in response to a question about the Bachmann Amendment, which seeks to repeat already-existing legalese preventing gay marriage for the sake of placating gay-despising conservative religious interests:
Sue Ek - I support the constitutional amendment and would vote YES to allow voters in Saint Cloud and Haven Township the opportunity to decide if THEY believe the state constitution should recognize marriage as a union between one man and one woman. This is a key difference between me and my opponent.
I have a world of respect for citizens who vote. The concept that people can decide what's best for them and their communities by choosing their own government representatives is the core of our democracy. I firmly believe that voting not only empowers citizens to make the change they want, but also exclusively gives them the right to complain about the wrongs they see in government; or, alternately, those who don't vote don't get to complain.

But what Ms. Ek says here is downright dangerous, and is a local manifestation of a larger movement on the Right toward marginalizing the concept of a Constitution-with-a-capital-C. The United States Constitution is not intended to limit the rights of any citizen, whether that citizen is black and trying to vote circa 1960 Alabama, or those men are gay and trying to marry circa 2005. The Constitution protects the people against the government, and defines what that government can do for the good of ALL citizens under its jurisdiction.

Of course the Constitution protects the Majorities (in this case, Christians and heterosexuals), because those majorities, by the nature of our democracy, have the power to vote into office representatives who agree with their views. The health of our democracy is defined by what we do for and how our government treats the minorities among us.

Of course it's possible to change a Constitution, whether state or national, but there's a very good reason why it's so difficult to do, why it requires such a huge level of support both in the legislature and in a referendum: to prevent temporary, notional passions like Temperance (oops) or gay-hating from warping the very nature of our self-governance.

But Ms. Ek, her ultra-conservative supporters, and indeed, people like them across the country - influential yes, but no less bigoted - seem not to care about the health of our democracy. They would rather that each municipality were able to decide for itself what to do to ethnic and sexual minorities among them. "Liberty and justice for all" be damned. That is not democracy, that's not Minnesota, and that's not America. That's bigotry, and represents an active re-interpretation of the high-minded thinking behind the Constitution. Perhaps Ms. Ek should answer more questions specifically regarding who she thinks the state Constitution protects: All, or Some-with-Whom-She's-Comfortable?

Look, I'm not gay. I'm happily straight, thank you very much. But I'm a minority in other ways, and it frightens and infuriates me when people like Ms. Ek wrap themselves in the flag and say they're merely protecting an age-old institution from attack, and doing so by keeping couples within a vibrant and loving community from expressing their love for one another legally. If the Bachmann Amendment, or worse, a Federal Marriage Amendment were to go through, what's to prevent these same forces from affecting my rights down the road?

The only possible solution is to make sure that all rights, for all citizens, that do no harm to others, must be permitted and protected. I think Ms. Ek and her ultra-conservative friends would have a hard time proving that allowing homosexuals to marry causes any individual or community harm. Perhaps they're not comfortable with gays - that's fine. Say so. Learn. Keep an open mind. That's what America is about. But not being comfortable with someone's lifestyle does not make them any less human or less eligible for the same rights and privileges you are allowed.


Comments:
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Blogger MN Liberal said:
The Bachmann amendment attempts to protect us from "activist" judges who will interpret the constitution to require same-sex marriage. The irony of the amendment is that thirty-five years ago the Minnesota Supreme Court decided that Minnesota's law defining marriage as between a man and a woman is constitutional. In other words, Bachmann wants to amend the constitution to say the exact same thing that the supreme court has already said. It's a solution in search of a problem.

These "activists" actually decided the issue in Bachmann's favor. The "problem" has been solved.
 
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