The Gross National Debt

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

In search of equality


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"To unequal privileges among members of the same society the spirit of our nation is, with one accord, adverse." --Thomas Jefferson: Reply to Address, 1801.


This has often been rephrased to: "There is nothing more unequal than the equal treatment of unequal people."

Those who object totally are not being rational. Those who offer total support are also not being rational. Me? I find a lot to support and reject in that idea.

Equal treatment means you expect a paraplegic to be the same athlete as Roger Bannister. It cannot happen, at least with today's technological innovations.

I also believe in equal treatment of unequal people in certain circumstances.

The case being argued before the Supreme Court today is a good example. I refer you to Windsor v. The United States. In what surprised many SCOTUS junkies, the Supremes also agreed to hear the case on California’s Proposition 8, a voter initiative which bans same gender marriage.

If I had to put money on this, I'd say SCOTUS will come down on the side of saying Yes to same gender marriage.

Both cases are about government, not about religion. As I've said before, the true case before SCOTUS right now is: Is marriage a function of government or a function of religion? I expect SCOTUS to say it is a government function.

Here's why. It cannot be a religious matter.

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

If I, as an ordained minister, choose to officiate a joining ceremony of two (or more) people of the same or different gender, the government cannot stop me.  The government can only say the union is not recognized by the government.

Since religion is therefore not an issue because of the First Amendment, it has to be about a government document - a marriage license.

At the same time attempting to force religion into statecraft should be a violation of the Constitution. Unfortunately, it doesn't happen that way.

A PIECE OF PAPER

In the Windsor case, this is a matter of government treating people unequally. It's about whether or not they have the right to same piece of paper as other adults. Marriage is a side issue.

Hammer time!
In this case the lady bringing the suit had to pay a chunk of inheritance taxes which she'd not have to pay if her marriage was recognized by the government.

She and her late spouse were married in Canada. Not legit in the US according to federal law. A marriage of one man and one woman in Canada is recognized as legit by the US government.

Had her marriage been legit, she would not have paid the inheritance taxes.

In short, do you have the right to say who gets your stuff when you die? The huge majority of Americans will say an emphatic "YES" to that one.

So Windsor v. The United States is a decision on how much the federal government will be restricted or freed to interfere with individuals.



MOB RULE

In other case, on Prop. 8, it's a matter of whether or not voters can dictate to individuals. This answer is far less clear because voters can dictate to individuals in some cases and cannot in others. Ballot initiatives are nothing more than voters ordering individuals to do certain things. At the same time, SCOTUS has ruled voters have limits on how much they can order individuals around.

Mob Rule?

I don't know how SCOTUS will handle this one. I suspect they will come down on the side of saying Prop 8 is illegal, but I can't be sure. The Supremes have sided with voters in the past.

The municipal attorney in the City where I live has argued cases before SCOTUS. He said a while back the Constitution exists to protect the rights of the few from the dictates of the many. SCOTUS bounces back and forth on this concept of protection.

Myself, I like the idea of voters being allowed to decide what is law and not law. At the same time, I admit there are serious flaws with this idea too. The problem is voters, taken en masse, make a flatworm look like a genius. The biggest flaw is that people get exactly what they asked for and it's nowhere near what they wanted.
Tasty pain!

By and large I say when voters speak, that's the way it should be. They should then be forced to live with the consequences of their actions, no matter how much it hurts. In fact, where mass stupidity is concerned, the more pain the better.

Voters of the Granola State have spoken. Their word should stand and in the Land of Fruits and Nuts, same gender marriage is illegal. I see this as yet another reason why we should all mass at the Nevada and Oregon border and pry California off the rest of the United States and dump it in the ocean.

Stupid is as stupid does.

Myself, I support the idea of allowing same gender people to marry. As someone wiser than me once observed, why should misery be restricted to heterosexuals?

COGNITIVE DISSONANCE

In what I see as a sterling example of why the Right and Left in this country are nothing more than mirrors of each other, Cantservatives argue against same gender marriage which is increased government interference in a private life. Liarberals argue for the same, which is decreased government interference in a private life. Stupid is as stupid does.

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