Saturday, September 19, 2009

Dad, Why Do We Have A Constitution?

My first post for the new Church of Mind blog. I am choosing to reprint an editorial I wrote for the local Hi-Desert Fishwrapper during last year's election. It was published on October 22, 2008. At issue, was California's Proposition 8 - A proposal for a Constitutional Amendment banning homosexual marriage. It's my first attempt at editorial / political writing, and it felt like a logical first post. I am very proud of it.

The issue of gay marriage is interesting to me because of the number of questions and subsequent issues it evokes. Why would states want to limit rights of marriage to heterosexuals? What interests do states have in any marriage? Do people often confuse weddings with state-granted marriages? What does the Bible say about gay marriage? Or marriage in general? When do churches lose non-profit status when donating to special interest?

In my local community, and pretty-much across the state, it felt as if citizens were looking to their church or the Bible for the answers to these questions. I wanted to address it through the basic ideas of individual rights.

Also, why do I feel like messages of hatred are always followed by quotes of scripture? I don't understand it. I've read the Bible many times. I never got that from it. Come to think of it, I didn't get much from it.

Dad, why do we have a Constitution?

As a parent, I look forward to questions like the above with great delight. Nothing makes me feel more American than answering questions about our country's greatness and the greatness of the men and women who've made it so. Incidentally, nothing bores a 5- and 10-year old (not to mention their mother) more than their father's tedious answers to seemingly simple questions. So, to spare my family, I present to you the following.

Thomas Paine once wrote, "Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil." It was because of similar cautious outlooks of government that our founding fathers created our nation's first constitution.

Constitutions are written to protect citizens from governments. Our basic rights and freedoms (speech, assembly, voting, etc.) are guaranteed by our constitution. In other words, our rights are not defined through public opinion. They are guaranteed through virtue of freedom and its principles as protected in our constitution.

It is rarely a good idea to regulate social conditions through constitutional amendment - regardless of how personally approved or not approved you feel. One would not need to turn back many pages in American history to see failed attempts at this. Issues facing voters today are fundamentally the same as those of past generations. Issues of religious persecution, racial intolerance, gun-ownership rights, etc. are only solved through strict adherence to the rights of individuals; Equal Rights.

Constitutions should only be amended with the intent of preserving rights of individuals. It is, therefore, our duty to vote disapprovingly of any attempts to amend our state or federal Constitution with the intent of taking away the rights of any law-abiding individuals.

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