Friday, November 07, 2008

I Couldn't Have Said it Better Myself

A friend left a comment on my Facebook about the gay marriage vote in CA (I've had a mini-discussion going on after I updated my status with my devastation about the vote).

Here's what she said: "Being Constitutional has nothing to do with the popular vote. States should not be able to make laws that restrict the pursuit of happiness."

It's a very good point. If being Constitutional means something is an inalienable freedom, right or benefit, how can we then change the Constitution to say otherwise? Semantically it makes sense, but semantics aren't what matters here.

Basically we're not just changing the Constitution to make gay marriages illegal, we're essentially changing the very meaning of the Constitution itself. Constitution is made to give people rights...inalienable rights to freedom, happiness, etc. Changing that on the whim of popular sentiment of the time erodes that very foundation of the Constitution, and those rights themselves. Now our Constitution will be come a list of whims of the populace, not a document expressing the birth right Americans have to freedom. Conservatives (real conservatives) should see that.


At 8/11/08 8:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're getting a bit confused. The constitution does not mention anywhere inalienable freedoms, nor does it mention the pursuit of happiness, nor is the constitution made to "give" people rights.
I'm sorry but this type of sloppy thinking is what got us into the damm mess in the first place. The constitution lays out what government can and cannot do. The People are the ultimate authority. And in the case of Prop 8 in CA, the people have spoken. Do I agree with the result- nope, but the correct (and healthy) response is to go back to the people and make your case with them.

Jim in St Louis

At 8/11/08 12:01 PM, Anonymous Matty V said...

To Jim in St. Louis:

The Constitution does not explicitly say lots of things, but over time the Supreme Court has interpreted the Constitution to ensure us specific rights.

And though the Constitution doesn't explicitly say rights, there are certain inalienable rights guaranteed to all citizens. For example, the Fourteenth Amendment guarantees the a right to due process and equal protection.

The point of the post is that Proposition 8 does change the meaning of the equal protection clause.

Additionally, you are incorrect when you say that the people are the ultimate authority. The Constitution is the ultimate authority. There are parts of the Constitution that are entrenched clauses, meaning they cannot be changed. Since there are sections of the Constitution that can never be changed, even if the people wanted to, then the Constitution's authority weighs more heavily of then the people's.

Further, the underlying political philosophy framing the Constitution is NOT that of an absolute democracy, as promoted by Rousseau. Rather the writers of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution adopted Locke's and Montesqueiu's views on democracy, which suggested that it was necessary to have forces pushing back at the possibility of a tyranny.

One of the unique aspects of the Constitution is that it was written in part and interpreted to help protect the rights of the minority.

In other news, last night I marched in San Francisco in the big protest. It was really amazing.

-Matty V

At 9/11/08 2:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Respectfully disagree.
I did not mean to imply the constitution doesn't enumerate rights- it certainly does- (at least 10 of them near the end).

I hope you enjoyed your protest, vain, pointless and unproductive as it may have been. And I could get rather pissy about what I see as a warped view of the constitution. However.....

How about a bit of common ground? Can we agree on these points?

1) Same sex unions ARE a radical change from the historical/ traditional definition of marriage.

2) The definition of marriage has changed in the past- and could change again.

3)The best way to affect that change is by going directly to the people and presenting our arguments.

4)Courts and lawsuits result in more harm than good because no matter how many judges you might convince-- the ultimate authority still rests in the hands of the people (there I said it again)

Jim in St Louis

p.s. What happened to Matty I, II, III and IV ?

At 9/11/08 12:08 PM, Anonymous Matty V said...

I don't think the protest was vain, pointless, or unproductive. I think most people recognize that the march itself isn't going to change anything. But the march acted as a grassroots organization that brought out a lot of people who need to be involved. As someone who spent the last few months working on the No on 8 campaign, what we needed then and what we need now is a bottom-up approach. As a friend of mine asked after the protest, "Where were all these people before the vote?"

It's disappointing that it took Prop 8's passage to get more people involved, but the important takeaway of the march is that more people are ready and willing to get involved.

And I don't fully agree with you on all your points.

1) Same sex unions ARE a radical change from the historical/ traditional definition of marriage, in only the same sense that interracial marriage was a radical change from the historical/traditional definition of marriage.

2) The definition of marriage has changed in the past- and SHOULD change again.

3)The best way to affect that change is by going directly to the people and presenting our arguments, and we need the manpower to do that. Protests such as the one you called vain and pointless gets those people that we need more involved.

4)Nearly all changes from the Civil Rights movement came as a result of Supreme Court decisions or lawsuits that were brought to enforce provisions of civil rights legislation. Let's be real, the government isn't going to pass legislation on its own.

Maybe you are okay with waiting for equality (and not just marriage equality), but I'm not going to sit around and wait for everyone else to come around.

I know what's right, and I'm going to demand that.

And now is the time to demand that from the government. The Democrats can no longer put these issues on the back burner and claim the Republicans will stay in power if we push these issues.

Obama has a Democratic majority in the House and Senate, and we must demand that he fulfill his campaign promises to us.

p.s. There is no matty i-iv. Just v.

At 9/11/08 12:26 PM, Blogger Brady said...

Jim, with all due respect, claiming that people's "sloppy" understanding of the constitution is what got us here in the first place isn't true, nor does it do any good.

You are right--the constitution's main purpose is to lay out the foundation of our government. However, to say that that is all it does is selling it a bit short. The preamble specifically describes why the Consitution is being written in the first of the reasons being to provide us with liberties, and Matty is right about the bill of rights going further to describe what rights are important enough to be described in the document...equal protection and due process.

Also, as Matty thoughtfully pointed much as the people may not like their "will" being turned back by the courts...with out the courts, the civil rights movement would most likely have made very little was until the 1997 that a majority of people finally saw interracial marriage as acceptable. I'm glad the courts stepped in on that one. Had we done it your way, I'd be graduating high school the year a black and a white person could finally marry legally in all 50 states.

At 9/11/08 3:03 PM, Anonymous Matty V said...

But I must say that there is some sloppy thinking going on among the gay community.

During the march, there were some idiots doing this call and response thing, where the leader would say "Tell me what democracy looks like." and then the people would say back "This is what democracy looks like."

It had a fun rhythm to it, but given that the proposition was put to a democratic popular vote, it really was actually counterproductive.

At 9/11/08 6:39 PM, Blogger Brady said...

Matty- unfortunately that is going to happen. It happens on both sides. But, the reason we are in this mess in the first place isn't because of that.

At 10/11/08 7:26 PM, Anonymous shorty said...

wow, matty v, put that rice diploma to use! Go you! ;-)


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