Wednesday, November 24, 2004

You're wrong Justice Scalia, there is NOTHING wrong with the principle of neutrality

1st Amendment of the US Constitution:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

On Monday, Justice Antonin Scalia said (emphasis added): "There is something wrong with the principle of neutrality," said Scalia, considered among the court's staunchest conservatives. Neutrality as envisioned by the founding fathers, Scalia said, "is not neutrality between religiousness and nonreligiousness; it is between denominations of religion."

The religious right's base they're claims that they're following the constitution with the religion based laws/mores they want to enforce by claiming they are not creating a state religion or state sponsored religion that has supremacy over others. The first amendment does not limit the separation of church and state to establising a state religion, as written it states ". ..make no law respecting an establishment of religion. . ." There's a big difference. Now Scalia refers to himself as an "originalist," someone who makes a decision based on the actual text literally, not the verbiage in context with the times, and yet he disregards the actual text.

So, the bible is to be read literally but the Consitution is not? According to the first amendment as written, we are to be protected from state sponsored religion, not just a takeover or implementation of rules based on one or a group of denominations views. We need to start hitting back using the actual language verbatim "Congress will make no law respecting establishment of religion. . ." Anyone who thinks Jefferson meant otherwise needs to read the letter he based the amendment on (emphasis added): "Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man & his god, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;' thus building a wall of eternal separation between Church & State.

Jefferson's final letter to the Danbury Baptists
The draft and recovered text of the Jefferson's letter

Tags: ;;

Sphere: Related Content

Monday, November 08, 2004

Doesn't anyone else think it's really strange

. .that there are people in this country think we need to amend the Constitution to define marriage and as far as I know we still haven't ratified the ERA?

Marriage was a social construct to protect the family (primarily the mother and children, as men were the providers) and in today's society, we grant legal rights/responsibilities based on the government issued marriage license and, quite separately, churchs/religions grant certain (non-legal) rights/status based on marital status. The problem with the debate in the country today is that we're mixing two completely independent items based on the same name as if they are mutually inclusive. Since we do not require marriage to be sanctified/officiated by clergy the two have to be considered as separate entities.

  • A government issued marrriage license is nothing more than a mutually exclusive binding agreement between two people to have all the legal rights/responsibilities provided under the license for the term of the license agreement (which is not some sort of condonation or approval of the relationship) .
  • The church performs the wedding ceremony and provides whatever sacraments/blessings are required as per church doctrine (this is a condonation/approval of the relationship).
  • Neither the church nor the government have to accept that a couple is married based on the fact the couple has met the requirements for marriage in the other institution (getting the marriage license from the government and the religious wedding are two separate and distinct events that may or may not be tied together after the fact).
Gay marriage should be a non-issue in the government realm/public domain; it's been made into a political issue as a way to establish a particular religious view and legislate based on that view. So, with that being said, let's take a look at the non-religious arguments bandied about by our right-winged friends:

#1 allowing gay marriage will open the door to polygamy:

The state does has a right to intervene in order to protect from potential public health issues, particularly those that can cost society. Inbreeding promotes a level of homozygousity that has deleterious biological effects the financial costs of which could be passed on to society. Additionally, laws against polygamy/incest are not specifically targeted to allow or prohibit a specific
person/group of people from engaging in the activity. The laws apply universally against people of all religions, races, sexual orientations, etc.

#2 allowing gay marriage will open the door to people marrying pets/livestock

I probably shouldn't dignify this one because it is so ridiculous. But since some people are so desperate that they bring it up, they can rest assure that marriage licenses are only provided to those who are legally capable to provide consent. If animals are capable of providing consent, humans are not able to verify consent (except for, maybe, the animal psychic on TV and/or Dr. Doolittle).

#3 homosexuality is "unnatural" and can not result in procreation

Styrofoam is unnatural and yet legal; there have been documented acts of homosexuality/gay sexual activity among lower primates (not common, but documented)

Many married couples choose not to have children & many can not have children without benefit of extreme scientific intervention or adoption; many will not have additional children with their new partner becuase they want to be married but not start a new family. .. will we ban these couples from marrying (and/or require couples who do not procreate to divorce)?

#4 marriage was designed to provide a secure environment in which to raise a family

and yet marriage does not in any way, shape or form come close to guaranteeing this, it all depends on the individuals in the relationship

If you want to talk about the "sanctity" of marriage in religious terms, then the government should not be issuing marriage licences - what's so sacred about a marriage license? Many churches don't acknowledge the legitimacy of marriages performed outside their church affiliation; the Catholic church has granted papal annulments for weddings performed in other churches in order to allow a Catholic (or convert to Catholicism) to (re)marry in a Catholic church. Doesn't that undermine the sanctity of marriage?

This week, Texas School boards mandated defining marriage as "a life long commitment between a man and a woman." Someone better tell that to Britney Spears, J Lo, Newt Gingrich & Neil Bush. Is this a harbinger of change to outlaw or severly limit divorce? How can the act of other people getting married (or divorced, for that matter) undermine the sanctity of someone else's marriage? Gay people who marry each other are not causing alienation of affection within heterosexual marriages, so how does this pose a threat to the institution of marriage (are these people really worried that if gay marriage becomes legal their spouse will say "oh man, I wouldn't have married YOU if I thought I could marry someone of the same gender!"???)


Sphere: Related Content