Ashley Richards

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Quote of the Month

February 25th, 2004 Posted in Madness

“I think people should do whatever they want. As long as they don’t try to marry me, I’m fine with it.”
~Andy Howse, San Mateo
Mountain View Voice

San Francisco’s decision to perform gay wedding ceremonies has sparked a huge debate. Technically, they shouldn’t be doing it because the state law says they can’t, but if they want to perform an act of civil disobedience protesting the law then don’t they have a right to do so?

If the constitution says that everyone must have equal protection under the law, well then it’s illegal to say that a couple cannot be legally bound to each other and have the same benefits that other couples have who are legally bound to one another. One couple who has been living as spouses for over 25 years should have the same benefits as another couple who have a piece of paper saying they have been spouses for 25 years. And in order to bring this to the forefront of people’s minds, allowing same-sex couples to be legally bound under the law would do that.

Historically, it is up to the individual states to determine the laws governing marriage and divorce. And one state does not have to honor a marriage granted in another state. This was an issue back in the 1960’s in Loving v Virgina when an interracial couple was told their marriage in Washington D.C. was not recognized, and they had to leave Virginia. The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled the law unconstitutional in 1967 and 16 states had to change their laws. However, if it hadn’t been for the Loving couple, would that law still exist in some states? And there was no need to add an amendment for it since it fell under equal protection under the law.

Interestingly enough, the proposed amendment’s wording could leave the gates open for heterosexual polygamy. Nowhere does it specifically state it must consist of just one man and just one woman. And that opens a whole can of worms that opponents to gay marriage keep bringing up. Also, those who have a common law marriage may find themselves running to the altar so as not to lose any benefits that they currently may have.

FEDERAL MARRIAGE AMENDMENT (H.J.Res. 56)

Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this constitution or the constitution of any state, nor state or federal law, shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups.

So we must remember, it’s up to judges to interpret the spirit in which the law was written. However, it is when the spirit in which the law was originally written is wrong that is the time that we must amend the constitution or when we have to set in stone how the government operates.

Amendments initially added spelled out and clarified how the Constitution protects the rights of the people. If it weren’t for the first 12 amendments, the Constitution would never have been ratified by the original 13 states. Then later on, we added more amendments to further clarify the Constitution because citizens still weren’t getting the whole everyone is equal idea.

For example, the 13th Amendment, ending slavery, had to be added to clarify the phrase “all men are created equal”. The 13th Amendment had to be added because half of the country had not accepted the “progressive” idea that blacks (or other minorities) are equal and should not be bought, sold and treated like animals. The other amendments were added to ensure a balance of power within Congress and to make sure that the President doesn’t get too full of himself if elected more than twice.

So with this in mind, does it make sense to add an amendment to clarify who can and cannot get married in this country? Does it further clarify a previous ideal set forth in the constitution? Does it help to ensure that the government runs smoothly in the long run? No, no and no.

If we were to add an amendment that would make the religious right happy, it would be that all laws in the land should reflect the laws of the predominant religion in the country. And that would be Christianity. And well, you just can’t do that because of that whole separation of church and state thing. And in some way, isn’t that what this is all about?