Monday, July 14, 2008

Constitutional Amendments.

On a whim, I decided to look up this day in history. Every friday in my high school American History class my teacher would read the day in history from the newspaper.

I got down to the one about "The Senate voted 50-48 against a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage" in 2004 and it immediately struck me that making a blanket constitutional amendment about marriage was pretty odd. I mean, the constitutional amendments, from what I understand, were added (the first ten as the bill of rights) so that the federal government would not have so much implicit power. As a measure to enhance individual state power, the much-bandied-about-but-hardly-ever-portrayed-clearly "founding fathers" intended to strike a key balance with such an amendment as number X:

"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

Legal rights, tax procedures, voting rights, election procedures -- sure, put those in a legal document about the behavior of the nation. But it starts to get shaky for me around the prohibition amendment. I know there a lot of ins and outs to starting a country, but outlawing an obvious economic staple? Back then, the farmers were still profiting from the production of alcohol (in addition to shopkeepers and others) and the government just takes that away? Did they know about the Whiskey Rebellion? (Which, by the way, I think it's funny that the national government fought to stamp out a rebellion that was in response to a national tax -- isn't that part of the reason that the American Revolution took place? Stamp tax and all that -- "No taxation without representation" . . . ?)

But, anyway, it's my belief that introducing an amendment about marriage, civil or religious unions, or anything like that is even more ridiculous than an amendment banning a commodity. Many of the amendments are for giving rights: Yes, women CAN vote. Yes, black people CAN vote. Yes, 18-year-olds CAN vote. Others ban questionable government practices: No, your stuff CANNOT be searched unless... No, you CANNOT assign excessive bail... No, soldiers CANNOT board your house during peace.

But what other amendments ban the action of the citizens, besides the failed prohibition one?

My point is, taken in comparison to the other amendments, some crap about marriage is way out in left field. Especially if it's banning a certain type of marriage. Even though it might be phrased positively (e.g., YES, a man and a woman CAN get married), the idea of ruling out something like this in our national codex is laughable.

Now, surely there are worse situations. Some cultures in some countries kill citizens just because they married someone from the same TOWN (even if they're not even remotely related), but still, this is kind of ridiculous.

So sure -- send it to the state level. Twenty-six state constitutions (according to Wikipedia) already have regulations against same-sex marriages. Oh yeah, and get ready for number twenty-seven.

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