I ran across this little tidbit the other day; it’s clearly nothing but one more vivid example of right wing outrage and bias based on the possibility the Supreme Court might rule in favor of same sex marriage:
Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) was a guest of Phyllis Schlafly on her ‘Eagle Forum Live’ radio show when a caller asked if Lee agreed ‘that the original Constitution didn’t give the Supreme Court the power to rule anything about marriage.” Lee responded, and said:
“They don’t have that power, the Constitution didn’t give it to them. There are a few who appear to take the position that something in the Constitution, something in the 14th Amendment in particular, gives them this power. I strongly, strongly disagree with that viewpoint. I don’t think it does, and I think they are mistaken in that conclusion. And I think it’s wrong, I think it’s disruptive of the constitutional order for them to take a debatable matter and take it beyond debate, to take a state matter and take it to the federal government, not just to Congress, but to the Supreme Court, to a group of nine lawyers dressed in black robes who are not elected, but who are appointed for life. And I think that’s a big problem.”
Lee spoke further about his belief/fear that a Supreme Court decision in favor of marriage equality would cause churches and religious organizations to shut down because the government would then be in a position to ‘retaliate’ “. . . against religious individuals or institutions. I fear that what could happen is that the government could start discriminating against religious individuals and religious institutions that have a religious belief about the definition of marriage. I don’t want that to happen. I hesitate to imagine what an America that would have that as part of its legal system would look like.”
Needless to say, Lee’s premises sounded more than just a little bizarre, so I did a quick perusal of the Constitution’s main body where the Supreme Court is essentially defined, including its judicial responsibilities and, presumably, its limits. Here are the direct quotes from Article III, Section 1 and Section 2, clause 1 which describe in some detail the Supreme Court’s Judicial Powers:
The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court (. . .)
The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority;–to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls;–to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction;–to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party;–to Controversies between two or more States;–between a State and Citizens of another State;–between Citizens of different States,–between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects.
It seems to me that those two statements pretty much define the court’s powers and responsibilities, and all without so much as a single reference restricting the Court’s “right” to, in effect, define or redefine marriage. In fact, a word search of the entire Constitution as amended does not contain, anywhere, the word “marriage.” Could it be that Senator Mike Lee and the Eagle Forum’s Phyllis Schlafly don’t know what they’re talking about? That their understanding of the Constitution is, shall we say, somewhat limited?
Note that Lee also effectively dismisses the fourteenth amendment by saying that only “a few” accept it’s premise which, in summary, reads “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States . . . nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” What, pray tell, is so confusing about the notion that to allow others to engage in practices not acceptable to a given religious clique does NOT — cannot — infringe on ‘religion freedom’? Wherefrom comes the concept that ‘religious freedom’ automatically implies the right of given religions to practice discrimination and express hatred for those who do not fit a particular mold? Certainly not from the Constitution as amended.
Eleven years ago, in May 2004, Massachusetts became the first state to legally sanction Gay Marriage. In the aftermath of that decision, the volume of the fear-obsessed and bigoted voices increased dramatically, shouting much the same messages we hear today. The world was, in their collective mentality, surely coming to an end.
Following is my response to those voices, written in late May 2004 and posted on an internet discussion group website on which a handful of voices were preaching Armageddon and national destruction, all thanks to that one little breath of fresh air from Massachusetts. Suffice to say my views were severely chastised by some, praised by others. The transcript reads as follows:
Near as I can fathom, “marriage” is more a semantics issue than anything else — save for those who find gay unions as some sort of heavenly abomination. My advice to the latter group is simple: if it bothers you, then don’t partake. There are those who find some or all religious dogma to be smothering, an “abomination”, if you will, and choose to not partake. But very few such non-partakers ever demand that those who do chose to practice religious dogma be ruled legal outcasts, nor should they.
The issue, really, is in the legal, not religious, sanctioning of a union, in the sense that to withhold equality before the law for a legally bound (by mutual consent, of course) couple based on gender, or skin color, or eye color/shape, or first language, or religious belief/practice is just plain wrong. Absolute equality of legal right should be the rule, period. I suppose some might find it more palatable to reserve the word “marriage” for either religious or civil *hetero* union, although I have to wonder — what’s in a word?
The essence of equality before the law IS equality and all that equality entails. I suppose that if a particular church or religious group prefers to believe that marriage is, in their eyes, a hetero union, that’s fine. Let all believe as they wish, but please allow others that same privilege. And, of course, the same applies to the ‘other’ side(s) as well, always. There must be behavioral standards in virtually any society no matter how simple or complex it is or becomes, but I’ve yet to sense that there is, in this world, a dangerously heightened level of human love and devotion to either others or another; tyrants may see things differently I suppose, but they ARE wrong.
I hardly think the human race’s success or failure depends upon the denial, to some, of what are, to others, guaranteed legal rights and privilege. I seriously doubt the species’ numbers will decline because of homosexual union (although if that would happen it’s a pretty good argument in favor of gay union! Six billions of ‘us’ should be enough to maintain an adequate gene pool to ensure a diverse future).
I couldn’t help but notice, on newscasts which detailed Massachusetts’ first day of officially sanctioned gay marriage, the joy on the faces and in the voices of a pair of older women who had been together for 33 years and finally were allowed to officially confirm their union. There is no sane or solid argument that I’ve heard or can imagine which stands tall enough to disallow their moment, their happiness. The day a society officially proclaims there is something awry in a loving relationship between consenting adults is a dark day for ALL concerned.
I am patently against Bush’s proposed amendment to the US Constitution which would disallow gay marriage. IMO, his proposal is nothing but a political appeal to a major segment of his voter base, and that’s a fleeting reason, at best, to permanently and officially codify a level of discrimination which effects far more people than are parcel to a particular voting/support base. Thomas Jefferson once said, “If my neighbor believes in twenty gods or no gods, it does not pick my pocket or break my leg and therefore it’s no harm to me.” I submit that his idea can easily be rearranged to accommodate any number of behavioral concepts and still reach the same enlightened conclusion. “If my neighbors believe in or practice homosexual marriage, it does not pick my pocket or break my leg and therefore it’s no harm to me.” And that’s simply the practicality of the matter, does not insist anyone celebrate, only that ‘we’ tolerate.
Tolerance. Love. There’s not enough of either and far too much of their opposites. Enough of that.
For what it’s worth, my views remain the same today and will continue to remain so, regardless of the upcoming SCOTUS decision, regardless of the screams of agony from the religiously bigoted — such as Franklin Graham who, for example, recently said:
“I believe we are in the midnight hour as far as God’s clock is concerned or we may be in the last minutes, but of those last minutes it may be another hundred years, I don’t know, but when you see how quickly our country is deteriorating, how quickly the world is deteriorating morally, especially under this administration, we have seen that it has just taken a nosedive off of the moral diving board into the cesspool of humanity.”
Notice how Graham and the bulk of his religion-motivated ilk blame all of their irrational ills and fears on someone else — anyone else, “this administration” (read: Obama) in particular — but never on themselves and/or their fellow religious bigots? To which I say, Enough of that.
PS: Speaking of Wingnut Dementia and Constitutional ignorance: President Santorum Won’t Enforce Gay Marriage Ruling Since It’s A ‘Violation Of The First Amendment’
“This is tantamount to government establishing religion.”