> SOUTHERN INDIANA —
“ We are going to raise the level of public debate in this country… and let that be our legacy .”
— Leo McGarry, White House Chief of Staff, “The West Wing”
On Sunday, Vice President Joe Biden went on the television program “Meet the Press” and announced to the world that he believed that same sex couples deserved the same rights and protections enjoyed by all Americans. He said that his position had evolved and that homosexuals and heterosexuals should be able to marry. Over the next couple of days it was debated whether this was his words or if he was speaking for the administration.
On Tuesday the citizens of North Carolina went to the polls and passed a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and civil unions. Passing easily with a 61-39 percent margin, North Carolina became the 30th state to pass such a ban. If the Indiana legislature passes the same bill next year that it passed this year, Indiana voters could face a similar amendment on the ballot in 2014. Will Indiana citizens do “the right thing” and limit the rights of some of its citizens based on their sexual orientation?
On Wednesday President Barack Obama made the statement, “I've always been adamant that gay and lesbian Americans should be treated fairly and equally.” He went on to say that he believes they should be allowed to marry. Some people questioned the timing of his statements saying they were made for political reasons; other people pointed and said that this could end up costing him the election. I don’t think this announcement should come as any surprise to the president’s supporters and anyone who is against marriage equality was probably not going to vote for him anyway.
Members of the religious right will most assuredly use this as ammunition for their cause. Their never-ending crusade, insisting that marriage has always been defined as between a man and a woman, a commitment made before God. Marriage predates most religions including Christianity by several centuries and has generally been considered a social contract between two people that delivers certain property rights to both parties.
Some people insist that this nation was founded on Christian principles and by allowing same sex couples to marry would go against everything the founding fathers stood for. The founding fathers stood for equal protection of rights for all Americans. Of course they also had something to say about religious freedoms. What about non-Christians? Do they not have the same rights to marriage as Christians? Marriage is a legal contract between two people and honored by the state in which they reside, to deny these same rights to same sex couples is a violation of their civil liberties.
Many people think that we live in a democracy and most people are against gay marriage so it should be against the law. Maybe putting the idea of people’s civil liberties on a ballot for “majority rules” is not the best idea. If 51 out of 100 people feel one way or the other, 49 should bow to their will. Maybe our Constitution was written so that the majority should stand up and fight for the rights of the minority.
The Constitution as originally written would not have been ratified by the states if not for the first 10 amendments. The Bill of Rights was added in order to guarantee certain rights to the citizens. The United States Constitution has been “amended” 27 times and only one of those amendments was used to limit the rights of Americans, and it was later repealed. Using the Constitution or any of the state’s constitution in order to limit civil liberties and personal freedoms is definitely not what our founding fathers had in mind.
Why in the world are we in the 21st Century arguing over whether one group of people should get certain rights that others are entitled to. Over the next several years I am sure that this battle will be fought in several states across the nation. While the mindset of the American people is evolving like the president and vice president, we are still a long way from equality in this country. Why can’t we just respect the human rights of all Americans and let everyone enjoy the same protection and civil rights that are guaranteed in the Constitution of the United States of America?
Matthew Nash believes strongly in the institution of marriage, but who wants to live in an institution.