Bil Browning

The Federal Marriage Abomination

Filed By Bil Browning | June 01, 2006 12:38 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics, Politics

There are two things wrong with the upcoming debate and vote on the FMA: 1) it is an attempt to play with the constitution for transient political gain; 2) The wording of the amendment is a rhetorical confidence game. There are very many wordings proposed, and all are subject to amendment on the floor. With not one politician taking this constitutional vandalism seriously, we can have no confidence in what the wording will be when they finally vote. Whatever the wording may be, you can bet that it will not say: "Americans shall be divided into two classes of citizens: those who are free to marry the person of their choice and those who, because they offend some people's reading of the Bible, are not free." But that is the constitutional issue. That is the reason for the proposed amendment. In American jurisprudence, there is no other way to put it honestly.

We have DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act, thank you Bill Clinton) to "protect marriage" (does anyone know from what?) But DOMA is clearly unconstitutional; that is the reason that some of our leaders believe that it is necessary to enact an FMA. Why is it so clearly unconstitutional that they do not even wait for a challenge to act? Because the Constitution and the accumulated decisions of our Supreme Court have held that "Gay Marriage" is a constitutional right? That issue has never been addressed, at least not in those terms; not in the terms of their proposed "remedy". If that were the issue, there would be no precedent to inform their panic.

But it is manifestly unconstitutional, and no one who understands the Court doubts the outcome of a challenge, should the Court summon the moral fortitude to hear it, because the Court has held that the right to marry the person of your choice is "fundamental". They held this in the face of almost exactly the same arguments that are advanced today in support of this insidious amendment. There can be little doubt as to how they would respond to what would amount to a re-hearing. Honest politicians would craft, if needs be, a remedy to fit the problem, an amendment that spoke in the terms of the issue; but ours are not honest and they know that if they stated their intentions to repeal the freedom of religion, and the equality of all citizens before the law, they would have to answer questions, questions they have not considered in their haste to scapegoat and discriminate. So they obfuscate, they deceive.

Like all freedoms, the freedom of religion must be equal to have any meaning whatsoever. What good is my freedom of religion if yours is more honored?

Gentlemen cry "Protect us from activist judges!" but our judicial system is too ponderous for activist judges to make much mischief in the long term unless they are legion and constitute a majority. What the proponents of faith-based governance want protection from is our Constitution. If we condemn any judge who nullifies the will of Congress because it violates the Constitution, we effectively repeal our Constitution. That is what they intend to do.

The response of any senator, or other public official who takes his oath of office seriously, to this amendment cannot, for the above reasons, be calm assurance of a negative vote. Such a person needs to stand up in public (as Julia Carson often does) and state loudly, clearly, and in no uncertain terms, that the amendment is an abomination because of the means and motives, the deceptions, of its supporters, and because of its unspeakable content. I doubt we have more than a handful with such moral clarity, such devotion to our nations purpose, and such courage. More's the pity.

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Well said, Ed. Thanks for a thoughful, insightful post.

Marla R Stevens | June 29, 2006 2:25 AM

I second that, Ed. Thanks for writing a "keeper"!