The notion of equality is a very noble one. Every right guaranteed by our Constitution is equally available to every law abiding American citizen. This is at the very core of the American experience.
Many of these rights are specifically enumerated, such as freedom of speech, press, religion, etc. Other, non-enumerated rights can be more difficult to define. A number of them are generally recognized, such as the right to vote, the right to marry and raise a family and a general right to privacy. Others, however, are much more continuous such as the ongoing controversies surrounding abortion and same-sex sex marriage, which will be the main topic of this post.
On July, 2015, the Obergefell v Hedges decision legalized same-sex marriage across the U. S. The rationale for the opinion was the concept of Substantive Due Process as outlined in the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution. However, the limits of this are debatable as we will discuss shortly.
Those with reservations were repeatedly assured that their lives would not be affected at all. Unfortunately, that turned out not to be the case for those who worked as bakers, florists or photographers who held the traditional view that marriage was between a man and a woman (a view which then president Barrack Obama once claimed to hold himself).
In the above video, Mr Obama refers to civil unions as an alternative to same-sex marriage. This would have provided the same desired benefits such property sharing, hospital visitation and insurance benefits. Many, myself included, considered this to be a reasonable compromise. The only thing gained by redefining marriage was the ability to use it as a political weapon to punish those who disagreed. This caused the words of Justice Samuel Alito’s dissenting opinion to become tragically prophetic:
“(… they) will risk being labeled as bigots and treated as such by governments, employers, and schools”, leading to “bitter and lasting wounds… Most Americans—understandably—will cheer or lament today’s decision because of their views on the issue of same-sex marriage. But all Americans, whatever their thinking on that issue, should worry about what the majority claim of power portends.”
If I wanted a ham sandwich, I would not go to a kosher Deli and threaten to sue them if they didn’t make it for me. I would simply go somewhere that did offer them. That is how the law of supply and demand works. Similarly, weddings are understood by many to be religious events. Instead of forcing believers to participate in activities which violate their faith, same-sex couples can simply seek out vendors that offer the services they desire.
In his excellent video on Roe V Wade, my friend Rod Saunders recently discussed the fallacy of pitting enumerated and unenumerated against each other. For example, the unenumerated right to privacy does not supersede the enumerated right to life. If the police have reason to suspect you have murdered someone, they have a right to get a warrant to search your home. Similarly freedom of speech, expression, religion, association and other rights are all enumerated rights that have been enshrined in the U. S. Constitution from the very beginning. Marriage, however one may define it, is not. When the aforementioned Fourteenth Amendment was ratified in 1868, none of the state laws regulating homosexuality were repealed. This clearly shows that sexual behaviors were never the focus of amendment to begin with.
Unfortunately, this does not stop politicians from trying to capitalize. For example,while running for president in 2020, Rep Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) threatened to revoke the tax exempt status of churches and charities that did not affirm same-sex unions.
While Mr. O’Rourke is widely known as a “loose cannon,” his words must be taken seriously. One obvious question would be how far is he prepared to go with this? While Evangelical Christians are typically the ones singled out, similar views on marriage and sexuality are shared by Catholics, Mormons, Orthodox Jews and Muslims. Would they also be targeted?
Further, attempting to punish these groups through revoking their tax exempt status would quickly backfire. In the event of an earthquake, hurricane or other disaster, who would be called on for assistance? Organizations such as the Salvation Army, Catholic Charities and the Southern Baptist Relief Board, all of whom are faith based groups who hold to a Biblical definition of marriage. Forcing them to pay taxes would leave them severely underfunded and unprepared to respond when these needs arise.
While marriage is the most prominent example of these inconsistencies, it is by no means the only area where this can be seen. For example, why are parents viewed as heroes for allowing minor children to undergo irreversible gender altering surgery, yet opting for a more therapeutic response is painted as abusive? As politicians (rightly) call for efforts to fight bullying among LGBT youth, what about the many non-LGBT youth who are also victims of bullying? Are they not equally deserving of protection? If you say no, then you are the one discriminating.
Again, equality is a noble goal to pursue, but in order for it to work everyone must be playing by the same rules. That cannot happen if the rights of one group are always considered to be more equal than others.
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