This phrase, which is etched in big letters on the front of the SupremeCourt Building, is clearly one of the most important foundations of our existence as a Nation. It borrows from the Declaration of Independence “all men are created equal” and was codified in the 14th Amendment. It is in my mind the most important foundation of our society. Without it, freedom is clearly at risk.
This week, the Supreme Court of the United States heard two cases that in my opinion epitomize the whole concept of “Equal Justice Under Law”, Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Both of these cases, no matter how you look at it separates out homosexuals from the rest of the country.
It is a civil rights issue.
By these acts, Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgendered (LGBT) Americans are being denied the right to marry the ones they love. A right not infringed upon with heterosexuals in this nation.
Advocates for these two laws say they can have “civil unions” but not marriage. Rings of “Separate but Equal” to me, but I’m not a Constitutional Lawyer, I just play one on Twitter and this blog. However I will say that unlike Justice Scalia, Alito, Roberts and Thomas, I know the meaning of “Equal Justice Under Law” and I take pride in that phrase. It would be a damn shame to lose it over conservative Christians having their panties all bunched up because they can’t stand people expressing their love for one another unless it’s by their design and blessing. Another great principle of this nation “Separation of Church and State” clearly written in the Constitution and reinforced by the Treaty of Tripoli a few years after ratification that said, “The government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion” shows that the argument advocating upholding these two laws lack Constitutional muster.
The sad truth of our country is that from her beginning, the concept of “Equal Justice Under Law” wasn’t absolute. At the time of the founding, only white male property owners enjoyed the privileges and benefits of what this nation, and constitution provided.
Women were excluded, blacks were excluded, Native Americans were excluded, if you were “other” based on accident of birth, you couldn’t enjoy the protection from discrimination the constitution provided.
It took time for “non property” owners to be given privileges enjoyed by property owners, it took the Civil war and reconstruction to give blacks the privileges of whites (though still limited by many states), it took the 19th Amendment before women got the right to vote, it took Brown versus the Board of Education and the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s to give blacks the privileges still denied them since the Civil War. All of these groups suffered denial of privileges enjoyed by others by mere accident of birth. They were born black, born female. Today, one of the last major group being denied privileges enjoyed by other Americans in this country are LGBTs who are so by accident of birth. Despite what people may say, people are born gay, they cannot be coerced into being gay.
Make no mistake about it, the issue at hand, the reason there are any Americans left in this nation who support denying the right of LGBTs to marry and enjoy the rights the rest of the nation enjoy is Religion.
They always cite “traditional” marriage. They bring up Christianity, Judaism, and Islam as the foundation. They imply that marriage is only a religious thing. If that’s the case, those Atheists, Agnostics, etc need not and should not marry. These people fear that if LGBTs are allowed to marry, it would threaten the “institution” of marriage. There is no evidence whatsoever that supports that. In reality, the only heterosexual marriages that can possibly be impacted negatively by allowing LGBTs to marry would be those where one or both aren’t exclusively heterosexual. I honestly believe the leading cause of divorce is marriage itself.
They also cite the evils of the Gay community indoctrinating fine young boys and girls into the “gay lifestyle.” Absolutely no evidence exists to support that claim. They claim that gays are overwhelmingly pedophiles. Again, no evidence supports that myth. In fact the opposite is true. The overwhelming percentile of pedophiles is heterosexual. The fact of the matter is that there is absolutely no intrinsic harm to marriages, children or society by allowing LGBTs to marry the ones they love and enjoy the privileges the rest of the nation have. Nothing exists to deny them “Equal Justice Under Law.”
Another argument against gay marriage involves procreation. If they are going to argue that, they should also argue against anyone over the age of 50 getting married, those who are unable to produce sperm or eggs, or those who quite simply choose to not have children at all.
This nation cannot take seriously the phrase “Equal Justice Under Law” if it allows any group to legislate laws purposefully designed to keep any other group, race, sex, or those of a different sexual orientation the ability to enjoy the same rights and privileges enjoyed by the rest of the nation by accident of birth.
Better yet, they shouldn’t be deprived of these rights and privileges even if they chose a belief, political ideology, lifestyle, religion others find questionable, when they still fail to demonstrate any intrinsic harm to the nation. If we are allowed to do that…
Well I have a problem with Right-Wing Nut Jobs. I believe they should be denied the right to vote, marry and watch cable television. If they can stop LGBTs from marrying, why can’t we stop them from doing what we enjoy?
The question of allowing LGBTs the absolute right to enjoy the rights of all citizens of this nation to marry the one they love should be a no-brainer to those people sitting in a building that so proudly displays the phrase “Equal Justice Under Law.” If you deny any group equal protection under law, you deny others the same privilege, the phrase means nothing and we are no longer America.