Author of Adam and Steve, a novel about reexamining your prejudices

Posts tagged ‘human rights’

Governor Christy – the majority is NOT always right

Governor of New Jersey at a town hall in Hills...

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Governor Christy, the moderate Republican governor of New Jersey, has made his position on marriage equality abundantly clear. He is against it. Nonetheless, he is willing to accept same-sex marriage if a majority of the people of New Jersey, by referendum, tell him to. The granting of basic civil and human rights to a minority should never be left to the will of the majority.  These rights, including the right to marry someone of one’s choosing, are not the majority’s to “give”. It is the epitome of arrogance for the Governor to think otherwise, even if he is willing to go along with the majority on the issue.

Governor Christy has now compounded his error. On Wednesday’s Ask the Governor radio show on NJ 101.5 FM, the Governor condemned the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision voiding a key section of the Defense of Marriage Act. He said the decision was not only “bad”, but “just another example of judicial supremacy rather than … the government [being] run by the people we actually vote for,” and “incredibly insulting to those … members of Congress who voted for the Defense of Marriage Act.”

Governor Christy’s words are astounding in light of this country’s history. Majorities have abridged and, in some instances, obliterated minority rights. Surely, he needs no reminder:

  • of the Jim Crow laws, enacted by the majority, that relegated African-Americans to second-class citizens and assured that the White majority would never suffer African-American proximity in restaurants, movies, hotels, schools and bathrooms to mention only a few legislated locations;
  • of the miscegenation laws, enacted by the majority, that banned inter-racial marriage in many states so that the blood of the White majority would not be diluted;
  • of the sexist laws that gave control over females’ bodies to the male legislative majority who enacted those laws;
  • of the homophobic laws, like the Defense of Marriage Act,  enacted by the majority, that withheld rights and benefits because the sexual orientation of the affected individuals was different from that of the majority, and that

the Supreme Court of the United States protected the rights of the minority in all of these cases.

Governor Christy should be applauded for providing moderation at a time when moderation is critically important to the viability of our two-party system of government. However, the Governor is running for reelection and harbors Presidential aspirations, both of which may account for Wednesday’s blatant appeal to the Conservative faction of his party. His position on marriage equality, his re-election campaign and his political aspirations aside, the Governor’s denouncement of the Supreme Court’s role in insuring minority rights is foolish in light of the majority’s history of malevolence. Whether by referendum or by legislative enactment, the majority cannot be the ultimate arbiter of minority rights. Sadly, that reality should be apparent to all Americans, including Governor Christy.

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Marriage Equality is a Conservative Issue

There’s a major disconnect between conservative values and conservative politics on the issue of marriage equality. I am at a loss to understand why political conservatives oppose same-sex marriage rather than vociferously and whole-heartedly support marriage equality.

Maybe I’m nuts, but doesn’t it strike you as odd that political conservatives who support the Defense of Marriage Act and its denial of basic civil and human rights to same-sex couples are the same individuals who believe government should keep its nose out of our private lives, which I assume includes our bedrooms.

Maybe I’m nuts, but doesn’t it strike you as odd that political conservatives who support DOMA and its countermanding of the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the United States Constitution are the same individuals who believe the Constitution should be strictly construed, which I assume includes the Constitution’s Full Faith and Credit Clause.

Maybe I’m nuts, but doesn’t it strike you as odd that political conservatives who espouse, as a true conservative value, committed and stable relationships through government-sanctioned marriage are the same individuals who refuse to afford this same commitment and stability to families in which the parents are same-sex.

Marriage Equality is an issue that screams for intellectual honesty from political conservatives. So, why are political conservatives disingenuous on an issue at the very core of their family values? Politically, it makes no sense.  But, politics is probably not at the root of this inconsistency. It strikes me that being opposed to gay and lesbian civil rights has more to do with misplaced religious beliefs than with political beliefs.  It’s time for conservatives not only to stop their opposition to, but lead the fight for marriage equality.  Since marriage equality is four square with conservative values and philosophy, it’s a  conservative issue whose time has come.

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Marriage Equality – A Human Rights Issue

We don’t really need the Supreme Court to tell us that basic human and civil rights are our inheritance as citizens of the United States of America. Do we?  Hasn’t the legality of marriage equality and the illegality of the Defense of Marriage Act already been decided in this country a multitude of times in different contexts?  Why must we go this route again and again to make our basic human rights and our Constitutional promises a reality to ever-widening groups of Americans?

The battle was literally fought, through guns and war, at the very inception of this nation when we banded together against the Goliath Great Britain for our freedom, and created our country founded on inalienable rights. Then we fought again, Americans against Americans, in our horrendous Civil War.  The outcome of that war expanded the group benefitting from those inalienable rights and our Constitutional freedoms.

Many times groups of Americans have come before our courts to ask to be recognized as having our Constitutionally mandated inalienable and basic rights. The courts have extended these rights and freedoms to woman and to African-Americans, to name two such groups. These decisions should have been foregone conclusions based on the promise of our Constitution and the many, many Americans who have died fighting for our freedoms.  Even if they were not foregone conclusions, at least we now have a body of law to serve as precedent for gay, lebian and transgender equality.

So what is the difference between the gay, lesbian and transgender quest for equality and the other hard fought and won quests that came before?  Nothing.  Like all before, arguments were made that God was against the particular equality being sought. I don’t know about you, but I have a really hard time getting into God’s head, and a harder time carrying out God’s vast plan to supposedly keep certain of God’s creation inferior under man’s law. Besides, we are a nation founded on the separation of church and state. What your God may find repulsive, mine may not, and those difference are not legal theories upon which our courts can or should base their decisions.

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Injustice to a few is injustice to all. I know it has been said many times before, but it bears mentioning again. We must stand together, as Americans of all stripes, to assure that the very foundations of our Constitutional freedoms are available to all Americans, regardless of race, gender, national origin and sexual orientation.

You might find Cory Booker’s human rights speech enlightening on this subject.


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