Tuesday, 09 March, 2004

Federal Marriage Amendment is a Bad Idea

So why do I think the Federal Marriage Amendment is a bad idea?  First, take a look at the proposed text:

Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman.

Neither this Constitution or the constitution of any state, nor state or federal law, shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups.

There is only one other amendment to the Constitution that attempted to restrict the rights of The People:  the 18th amendment, which prohibited alcoholic beverages.  All other amendments to the Constitution have been made to guarantee the rights of The People or to smooth the running of government.  The Constitution is written by The People.  It establishes the government and grants rights to that government.  The amendments are intended to limit government's power, not to limit freedoms of The People.  We grant to  Congress and to the States the right to enact laws that are "necessary and proper," for carrying out the Powers that have been granted to the government.

There is no mention of marriage in the Constitution or in any of the amendments.  Marriage is a legislative construct, created by law and subject to change by law.  If you take a look at the Constitution, you'll realize that other much more important things than marriage also aren't mentioned:  things like assault and murder are not prohibited by the Constitution, except to the extent that government is prohibited from doing them.  When the Constitution includes a clause prohibiting murder, assault, and other such crimes, then I might give some thought to the inclusion of an amendment defining marriage.

I would use this same argument to oppose the old flag protection amendment that Bush, Sr. tried to get passed.  A Constitutional amendment to protect the flag?  Ridiculous!

Those of you who know me or have read this journal for any length of time know that I don't like homosexuality, nor would I consider burning the flag in protest.  However, our Constitution guarantees our right peaceably to act in ways that might be upsetting to others.  These issues are matters for Congress.  Trying to modify the Constitution so that it becomes a list of prohibitions turns it into a much different document and a potential tool of oppression.  The Framers knew that, and purposely made it difficult to amend the Constitution so that this kind of knee-jerk reaction wouldn't become permanently codified.