Marriage Equality and LGBT Civil Rights in the United States, Part 2

The LinkedIn Discussion over marriage equality that I shared in my prior post continued and the issues raised warrant sharing.

I received the following response to the comments that I made:

"Mark. Never meant to throw rocks, so I apologize if you feel I have done that. No offense meant for sure. My wife is very happy and our marriage is one of equality and unity. We walk together in agreement in our decisions. We aren't 'straight-edges' by any means, but we follow (closely) our convictions. God first, everything else second. There's no oppression whatsoever in that. Yes, our household is a Christian household and my wife and I run it that way for a reason. Christianity, done correctly, isn't an oppressive religion. Others have made it that way.

Now as far as what I oppose, it's a matter of principle. In a way, nobody's right or wrong. Nobody has broken any law(s). You can throw out the 1st and 14th Amendments if you want to. As far as progression...I remember in grade school when one day we were told we couldn't say 'one nation, under God' anymore because it was offensive. In addition, I wouldn't call the USA a 'Christian nation' because it has become a liberal pluralistic nation. 300 years ago, you could have called it that, but now? No way. This nation is not what it was when the Declaration of Independence was drafted and ratified. The Christian 'majority' is not such a majority anymore. Although a large majority of Americans identify themselves as being Christians, from my book they aren't.

Can you please define 'Christian' for me please?

Christian values are no longer held in high regard anymore. Marriage, by the widely accepted definition of being between a man and woman, is just a statement these days. Marijuana is legal now in some states. It's ok to murder your unborn child for no reason other than you don't want him/her. There are some 'Christians' I'd like to smash over the head and shake the lies and deception, ideology, and radical legalistic point of view out of their brains.

You said, 'However, your belief that the United States Supreme Court decision or any other Court in the U.S. redefined marriage is patently false.' From a pragmatic point of view you're right-on. As far as redefining marriage, from a legal standpoint, there's nothing to redefine. As a lawyer, you know that. The Constitution is pretty silent on the definition and that's just fine. My issue is how it was finally decided. It's up to the people to decide it, not the Courts. There was no vote. The Supreme Court isn't a legislature or Congress. They interpret and enforce the laws- not vote on them. Under the Constitution, Judges have legal right to say what the law is-not what it should be. Marriage, in effect, was decided 'what it should be,' by a box of 9 individuals. No vote, no checked and counted ballots. The crazy thing about it is that even those Justices who argued the constitutionality and legal definitions opposing it, ended up voting with the majority. As far as giving the Court credit for it? Hardly. As I said, from a legal standpoint, there is no definition. Outside the law, there is: One man and one woman. Simple.

My final thoughts...

I will say that yes, the majority of Americans want to have a pluralistic nation of tolerance and harmony (so do I), and there's no question that things are changing. Some for the good for sure, and some not so welcomed. It wasn't long ago that interracial marriage was as taboo as same-sex marriage. In fact, the marriage equality movement has only been around for about 10 years whereas the widely (formerly) definition of marriage has been around for thousands. Times are changing. How far they will go nobody knows. What is tolerated today may not be tomorrow. There are those out there who look on me as judgmental and shaming because I stand on a principle that has been accepted by the majority-We the People, government, and Courts, for hundreds, even thousands of years for a reason.

If you are naming me as contemptible because of that, then you are sorely mistaken. I would never label you. You have a God-given right to do as you please just as much as the head pastor of a 10,000 strong congregation. Unfortunately, we have laws that limit freedom and a government that isn't afraid or hesitant to wield its power in making them, redefining them, or altering them. It effects everyone. The voice of the People is becoming increasingly muffled. I can only hope that high standards of morality, punctuality, justice, freedom, honor, integrity, equality, and humility are upheld, Christian or not."

I responded as follows:

"Thank you. Before I address your points and in line with what you said about those who you believe are practicing Christianity the wrong way, I would like to share with you the following posting of mine from June 28, 2015:

'I met a Bible Thumper at my seminar. She claimed to LOVE gays and lesbians, BUT they shouldn't be allowed to marry. She also said that their ‘sexual preference’ is a choice and that conversion therapy works. She then said that children raised by gays and lesbian suffer and are harmed.

None of that was consistent with reality and it was all just rhetoric. With friends like her, who needs enemies?'

I am pleased to hear that both you and your wife are happy in your marriage and that it is one of equality and unity. Please note that such a marriage is by no means 'traditional.'

The history of what led to marriage equality in the United States is a bit different than you understand it to be. I would suggest that you read the article titled 'How Gay Marriage Became a Constitutional Right – The untold story of the improbable campaign that finally tipped the U.S. Supreme Court' that was published in 'The Atlantic' on July 1, 2015.

Whether in deciding in favor of marriage equality, the United States Supreme Court threw out the 1st and 14th Amendments is a matter of perception.

Allow me to share two postings of mine from June 28, 2015:

'The cost of the conflict between the U.S. and Iran has been significant, especially in terms of the economic sanctions levied against Iran and the consequences of those sanctions. President Obama has acknowledged things the U.S. had done to contribute to the conflict. However, Iranian lawmakers chanting ‘Death to the America’ is not at all helpful if the conflict is ever to be resolved. You must separate the person from the problem, be hard on the problem and soft on the person. Chanting ‘Death to the America’ is being hard on the ‘person’ and completely ignoring the ‘problem.’

Unfortunately, this is what happens when people hold ideological beliefs and are unable or unwilling to challenge their deeply held biases, beliefs, assumptions and values.

This same issue holds true for each of the four U.S. Supreme Court Justices who, because of their ideological beliefs (religiously based), are unable to recognize that the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides that no state shall deny to any person within its jurisdiction ‘the equal protection of the laws.’

Five years ago, those same Justices concluded that corporations are ‘persons’ under the laws of the United States of America. Yet, they can't seem to grasp that gays and lesbians are persons. The definition of a ‘person’ is a ‘human being.’ I'm afraid that gays and lesbians qualify as ‘human beings,’ but not corporations. Meanwhile those same Justices believe that marriage equality was not a Constitutional issue and that the majority of the Supreme Court ignored the Constitution.

It seems to me that they have it backwards. Their inability or unwillingness to challenge their underlying ideological beliefs have resulted in flawed logic. It is the same as Dylann Roof's underlying belief that all black people are inherently stupid and violent. By accepting such rhetoric as truth, his perspective makes perfect sense. The problem lies in the fact that his underlying beliefs were false.

The lesson to be learned is the importance of challenging your biases, beliefs, assumptions and values.'

'’Secret World War II Chemical Experiments Tested Troops By Race

If you start from the premise that a certain group of people is inferior or not "persons" under the law, it's amazing where you can end up.

Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Clarence Thomas, Justice Antonin Scalia, and Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr. hold such views with regard to the LGBT community. In fact, in his dissent, Chief Justice Roberts referred to each of the five Justices who ruled in favor of same-sex marriage as lawyers. He also said that their decision was not in accordance with the U.S. Constitution because in his twisted mind, corporations are persons, but gays and lesbians are not. How much more disrespectful could he have been to those five Supreme Court Justices and to the gay and lesbian community? These four ‘Justices’ are extremely dangerous as a result of their deeply held religious beliefs and their inability to make impartial decisions.'

You are also incorrect about the Pledge of Allegiance. 'In 1954, in response to the Communist threat of the times, President Eisenhower encouraged Congress to add the words ‘under God,’ creating the 31-word pledge we say today.' In other words, your rendition of that having been Constitutionally allowed for 300 years, until the U.S. became a more 'liberal pluralistic nation' is wrong. The United States is not a more 'liberal and pluralistic nation' and you would know that if you actually knew the history about which you speak. The reason that the nation is not what it was when the Declaration of Independence was signed is because of conservative changes made since then and consequences that have ensued as a result.

There are plenty of KKKhristians who have caused confusion as to what Christianity is supposed to mean because of their fundamentalist interpretation of scripture. The same is true of fundamentalist interpretation of any religion. I’m not going to get into the various other issues you have raised with regard to abortion rights and legalized use of marijuana because that is not the point of this discussion, although it is tangentially related.

The SCOTUS determines what is and is not Constitutional and this was a Constitutional issue. Too much damage was being caused to wait for lord knows how many decades for the matter to be decided in Congress, if ever. Congress doesn't do much these days, other than try and overturn the Affordable Care Act. Meanwhile, the SCOTUS also resolved the issue of interracial marriages for the entire country. This was nothing out of the ordinary for the SCOTUS to decide.

Congress is made up of representatives from all 50 states. Please note that the Equal Rights Amendment was passed by Congress on March 22, 1972 and sent to the states for ratification by both houses of their state legislatures. It's now July 3, 2015 and it has yet to be ratified by the requisite number of states. In other words, good luck on getting those same state representatives to have provided the rights given under the SCOTUS decision.

President Obama recognizes that the President of the United States represents the entire country. As he said, 'whether that president is a Democrat or a Republican, once the debates have been had here, that he or she is the spokesperson on behalf of U.S.’ In that regard, the President represents all of the citizens of the United States, regardless of their race, religion, color, national origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, height, weight, genetic information, marital status, disability, or veteran status. This is something that the Republican leaders better come to understand because it is Civics 101.

It seems as though many of the Republican Governors and Congressmen currently in office or who have previously held office seem not to grasp the fact that it is their job to represent all of their constituents, not just those in their political party, those in the majority, or those holding their same views, but all of them! By the way, the same is true of some former Presidents. They should have learned a bit about civics before taking elected office. In fact, it seems that a great many of the problems we are having with our government in this country (federal, state and local) is that our politicians don't understand civics or just opt to ignore it, even though they work in that field. If someone runs for elected office, regardless of their politics, they better be ready, willing and able to represent all of their constituents. If someone is not prepared to take on that responsibility, they have no business running for political office.

Anyone running for President in 2016 better learn a a thing or two about civics. With power comes responsibility!

Shall I share with you the proposed California ballot measure that would have all gays and lesbians put to death? It was submitted by a licensed California attorney. My point has to do with the damage caused by fundamentalist thought and teachings. Are people born with hate OR are they taught to hate? If so, why and what can be done to cause the beliefs to change? We have problems in this country with regard to persistent racism, Anti-Gay's running for President. FYI, that is the same as running for President and proudly stating that you are a racist.

The article from 'The Atlantic' explains why this had to be decided by the Supreme Court one way or another. Consider the Affordable Care Act, for example. It was passed in Congress and has now been challenged twice in the Supreme Court based on Constitutionality issues and upheld.

It’s NOT up for the people to decide. If that were true, we would have majority rule. Our governmental system was designed to protect people from majority rule.

Your fixation with marriage being defined as one man and one woman has to do with your confusion of civil marriage with religious marriage. With civil marriage come the 1,138 benefits, rights and protections provided on the basis of marital status in Federal law. Moreover, according to a report done by the New York Times in 2009, the lifetime value of those benefits ranges from $41,196 to $467,562 per married person. We all pay taxes. Have you heard of “taxation without representation”? What makes you or anyone else think it is Constitutional to have all citizens pay for those benefits and deny them to gays and lesbians because you deny them the right to marry? That is what happens when things occur as a result of majority rule. The gays and lesbians get to subsidize the straight population, by denying them the opportunity to marry. Before you raise the issue of the marriage penalty for married couples, please note that there are far more taxes than just income taxes. For example, the DOMA decision from 2013 involved estate taxes due from the surviving spouse of a lesbian marriage that was legally recognized under State law, but not federal law. As a result, the surviving spouse was compelled to pay $363,053 in estate taxes that would not have been paid, had it been a marriage between a man and a woman. That inequity caused the provision in DOMA to be struck down.

While the gay and lesbian community now has marriage equality, there is a LONG road ahead. This article titled 'Tolerance Is Not Enough' by Thomas Watson on November 7, 1990 describes cause and effect and the reason I submitted a proposal to speak at the next Southern California Mediation Association Conference on the following topic: "Equal rights for the LGBT community: The Last Frontier of the Civil Rights Movement."

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