Democrats & Liberals Archives

On Amending the Constitution

President Bush asked Congress a short while back for a constitutional Amendment banning same-sex marriage. This seems to be fueling a lot of debate on the subject, mostly single minded diatribes by groups that fail to even consider another perspective than their own. By that, I refer to both sides of the debate.

Most polls show that while America is becoming more accepting to the homosexual community, the majority of the population is still not in favor of allowing gay marriage. Does this mean the masses should dictate what the laws should be? Only if you still believe black slavery should still be allowed (see United States Civil War), but it does reflect that the level of tolerance still has a little ways to go.

The idea of Civil Unions are offensive to many simply because in the past it has been offered as a token solution to give similar rights, but not equal to the same rights as a marriage. Different States such as California and Massachusetts have recently been trying to tackle this issue only to meet strong resistance from both sides of the argument leaving little room for compromise either way. This led to President Bush’s proposal for an Amendment to the United States Constitution which would stricktly define marriage between a man and a woman. While the issue does need clarity and resolve, the idea of Bush asking for a constitutional amendment is patently offensive.

The constitution is meant to evolve and change over time as our society changes and evolves as well. However, change to the constitution should be done with an air of certainty and caution as it is the defining source of our laws and rights in this country and a model to many others. We shouldn’t take it lightly when someone asks to amend those rights on the grounds of ideologue over equality.

The previous 27 constitutional amendments were enacted specifically to protect or extend the rights of individuals, not restrict them, the only amendment banning individual rights was later repealed: ( Hatfield )

1. freedom of speech
2. the right to bear arms
3. quartering of troops
4. unreasonable search and seizure
5. due process, self-incrimination
6. jury trial in criminal prosecution
7. jury trial in civil suits
8. cruel and unusual punishment
9. non-enumerated rights
10. rights reserved to states
11. suits against a state
12. election of president and vice-president
13. abolition of slavery
14. privileges and immunities, due process, equal protection, apportionment of representatives, civil war disqualification and debt
15. protection from racial discrimination
16. income tax
17. election of senators
18. prohibition
19. women’s right to vote
20. presidential terms
21. prohibition repealed
22. presidential term limit
23. presidential vote in d.c.
24. poll tax
25. presidential succession
26. right to vote at age 18
27. compensation of members of congress

The purpose of the constitution was to guarantee the rights of the people, not restrict them. Bush’s proposal, even if found to be a popular movement, should be left out of the cornerstone of modern democracy and allow the individual states to decide their own course in the matter.

That being said, the idea of a Civil Union that is recognized and treated with equal rights as a marriage, is a long over due idea. I’m not just talking about a solution for homosexual couples either, but for those who are not religious or atheist to have a means of legal unity to a loved one without the concept of religion tied to the ceremony.

Today, marriage can be a secular act but it’s origins derive from a religious ceremony. Through years of integrating the religious ceremony into a legal contract accepted by society, the Church now feels their religious view is threatened by changing the rules and undermining their beliefe. Keep in mind, they have a right to their beliefe as well as Homosexuals believe and defend that their civil rights are being oppressed.

A compromise has to be reached by both sides of the argument. Somewhere outside the realm of gay bashing, religious zelout activism, and gay activist groups with an agenda, people are going to have to stop fighting for the cause and start figuring out what is going to be the best way for them to achieve something that brings them happiness without causing only more fighting.

Posted by Beau Wade at March 21, 2004 3:11 PM