Sunday, November 16, 2008

Equal Protection

A few weeks ago my family and I went to a wedding down in the SF bay area. We went down to see two good friends, who are raising their daughter together, get married. They have been living together for some time now and finally decided to tie the knot.

I have been to weddings like this, where two people who have been together for a while get married, the couples sometimes get ribbed that they are doing it just to throw a party.

I don't care how cynical it may seem but even those types of weddings are special. It is like they are coming out to their friends and admitting they actually do want to stay together and they are not going to just split up.
And to get the support of their friends and family they throw a party.

This couple in particular knew of the support they had. When their baby was born their whole community went to the naming ceremony. Then when the momma got cancer we all prayed for her and hoped she would get well.

Of course when we found out they had the chance to get married we dropped everything to go and be there to show our support. Plus there was not a whole lot of time. There marriage license would be denied right now because they are two women.

I can't say that I am mystified why anyone would vote to deny someone else's rights. About twenty years ago, I might have voted that way myself, not because I actively hated but because I did not understand that love is not some static thing that exists in certain situations but is fluid. I also really believed that my Church would not lead me the wrong way.

At the time of the founding of our country the idea that all people had inherent rights was pretty big, so big in fact that it was written both in the Declaration of Independence and into the Constitution. I know, back then, when they were granting rights, they gave most of them to taxpayers; men who were not slaves. Even though the other groups, women, slaves, Jews, and Catholics( in some states) did not get the same rights, I assert that the writers (John Adams and Thomas Jefferson) really did believe that those groups were actually equal to the people holding all the power.

They must have known, that those other groups would eventually have the right to equal protection and voice in the government. They did not set up a democracy where the majority ruled. They set up a Republican government one where the power is not concentrated in one branch, one with courts to interpret laws etc. one that would protect minorities.

From what I have read of John Adams, I think he would be happy about the abolition of slavery and the subsequent civil rights, he would not be surprised by women getting the vote. What would he make of same sex marriage? I don't know. Judging by what was written in the Constitution I doubt he would vote to take away rights.

1 comment:

Randy said...

I see Thomas Monson as King Canute, ordering the tide to stop coming in. Gay marriage is happening much faster than I thought it would, actually.

You raise a good question about what John Adams might have thought. I've no idea what the founders would have thought of many of the issues that have arisen as society has become infinitely more complex than the agrarian/mercantile republic that began in 1789. As a school of constitutional theory, "originalism" is laughable; I suppose it means that one combs the writings of Madison, Hamilton, etc., to find something that agrees with one's own position on an issue. And how could the founders have contemplated issues that were completely outside their frame of reference?