Tuesday, March 15, 2005

California Gay-Marriage Ban Ruled Unconstitutional

In what is another battle won on the same-sex marriage front (yes I support same-sex marriage--albeit a temporary victory--a state court in the nation's most populous state, California, has ruled that a law banning same sex marriage is unconstitutional. San Francisco County Superior Court Judge Richard Kramer stated in his opinion that "It appears that no rational purpose exists for limiting marriage in this state to opposite-sex partners."

The judge's ruling is sure to be appealed by any number of conservative groups and perhaps even the state, and it might be a while before we see final resolution on the issue of whether or not same-sex marriage violates the California state constitution. But it is gratifying that yet another state court has ruled that laws outlawing same-sex marriages are unconstitutional because they violate the equal protection clauses of the states' founding document. California's ruling comes close on the heals of two such rulings in Washington state, and one in New York in the past six months.

California's Senior Assistant Attorney General Louis Mauro acknowledged in a hearing in December that the state is "a leader in affording rights" to same-sex couples. But he cited tradition as the reason the state should uphold the existing definition of marriage. Judge Kramer disagreed stating "[T]he state's protracted denial of equal protection cannot be justified simply because such constitutional violation has become traditional."

I couldn't agree with the judge more! Once again this is not an issue of tradition, or religion, or even morality, it is an issue of equal protection before the law. It was tradition until recently to deny people of different races the right to marry; surely no one in the Year 2005 would (rationally) defend the right of the state to deny mixed race marriages on the basis of tradition. A tradition, no matter its intent or import to a segment of society, should not be adhered to if the fundamental constitution rights and or statute mandated Civil Rights of the citizenry are trampled, or otherwise set aside in order to honor said tradition.

Homosexuals (Gay men and lesbian women) are citizens of this nation, and their respective states, and such are constitutionally guaranteed equal protection before the law (see the 14th Amendment to the federal constitution as well as state constitutions). And if the state can find no compelling reason to deny same-sex marriage, it must allow it; marriage after all is a fundamental Constitutional right codified under Loving vs. Virginia. It matters not--or should matter not--what religion--any religion--has to say about the matter, because the institution of marriage as regulated by the many states is a Civil Institution, govern by civil law.

However, this might all be a moot point if California voters approve an amendment this coming November to the state constitution banning same-sex marriage. If approved this amendment would follow 13 other states that did the same thing last November, effectively halting freedoms march in parts of the United States, relegating Gays to the status of perpetual second class citizens.

As I stated in a previous articles posted herein, the passage of these amendments to the various state constitutions underlies that by-and-large the American people (ordinary citizens and law-makers alike) lack even a basic understanding of the constitution and how our government is supposed to be run. Not do they understand or appreciate the tenets of real freedom and equality. That is frightening for the future of our nation…but the battle in this war is far from over…

Monday, March 14, 2005

Teaching Biblical Script as Science; Is it Any Wonder Johnny Can't Compete?

You have to hand it to the Christian Right, they are nothing if not determined to force their narrow-minded views informed by the Bible and faith on us all; believers and non-believers alike. Their latest front is really an old front closed, but reopened on a different vista, but it is the same old battle: to get creationism into the public schools.

I am continually amazed that Americans in increasing numbers fail to grasp the foundations of their own government; i.e. the doctrine of Separation of Church and State for starters. Could it be that as each generation is born, we slip further and further away from even a basic understanding of what the constitution means? I was shocked when Associate Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, stated from the bench during arguments concerning the Ten Commandment case before the court, that government(s) derives its power to govern from God! Funny I thought the government drew it power to govern from We The People as embodied in the U.S. Constitutions and many subordinate state constitutions.

Scalia's statement can only serves to embolden those who seek to replace Civil Law with Canon Law and thrust religion and biblical teaching into the public sphere. Never mind that not all Americans are Christians or even believers in God, what matters is that their agenda governs. Never mind our collective freedom to be free of religion if we so choose. If they believe in God and the Bible, so should we all believe and live by the word. Never mind that the Religious Right continually and habitually seeks to deny freedom to others based on faith!

In a recent Washington Post article, the paper reported that the religious doctrine of Intelligent Design (regurgitated Creationism), is being push in nineteen states from Georgia to Ohio, Ohio to California, with stops is Kansas, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington state, and points in between. The proponents of Intelligent Design would have us believe that the concept, in which the human race was created by a higher intelligence, is science and deserves to be taught beside the Theory of Evolution as a viable alternative to the latter. Problem is the concept cannot even begin to be proven, much as the existence of God cannot be scientifically proven; indeed the existence of God and or other higher beings must be taken on, well faith. Since it implied that this higher being that created mankind is God, or a God-like being we must take it on faith that it true. Faith is not the basis for sound public education; therefore, Intelligent Design has no place in the classroom of any public school.

True the Theory of Evolution is just a theory, but at least there are some science backing the assumptions that man evolved over time from primitive creatures who share a common ancestry with apes, monkeys etc. Science bares this out; science on the other hand offers no proof that one all-mighty being created all we see on Earth and the Universe. Therefore I submit again that there is no place for Intelligent Design in the public schools.

Some may point to the bible as compelling evidence of Intelligent Design, but once again, nothing in the bible can be proved; it is all conjecture, written over the span of at least 500 years and by different men with their own agenda. The tome is very contradictory and meandering, and if take literally offers no real guidance at all. The Bible is filled with loft words, but we must take it on faith that the Bible is indeed the word of God, and faith once again is not the basis for sound scientific education.

I am against teaching the theologically inspired Intelligent Design in the public schools. Not only is it scientifically unsound, but it violates the Separation of Church and state doctrine set up by the First Amendment. If we allow Intelligent Design to be taught in the public school, would we then have to allow other religions to insert their believe(s) of how mankind came to be into the public school curriculum? We would if we were to remain true to the constitution, for the state cannot favor one religion above another.

Religion and religious teaching and or doctrine has no place in the public arena, it should remain private. If Christians--who now claim by the way that they are being persecuted by not being allowed to insert Intelligent Design into public school curriculum--want to teach the ID let them do it at home and in the church. What I ask is wrong with that? Leave the rest of us alone; if you want you children to wallow in ignorance fine, but don't ask my children to share their fate.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

It Is Past Time For Tom Delay to Go!

Does anyone but me get a bad taste in their mouth whenever they utter the words Tom Delay? This man could be the poster child for all that is wrong in the halls of Congress. And one has to ask: at this point is Tom Delay really representing the people of his district, or following his own purulent self interests?

And if the latter is true—how far will his fellow Republicans and constituents let him go before shouting enough is enough? I for one would not shed a tear if Delay were brought down and brought do hard.

The powerful Congressman from Texas has been admonished three times over the last year for official misconduct by the House ethics committee, but still he seems to remain as powerful as ever, suggesting that Republican Party’s claim to the moral high ground on ethics is lodged deep within the bosom of hypocrisy. And once again Tom Delay is in the news for allegedly violating House ethics rules by taking a trip sponsored by foreign interests.

And yet the ten member (five Republicans and five Democrats) House ethics committee formally the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, is powerless to act because of rules changed pushed by Delay’s political toady House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.)—who I am ashamed to say represents my district in Illinois—who recently replaced the chairman and two other Republican members, with Congressmen more loyal to the leadership. Then came the rule changes pushed by the Republican leadership that make it impossible for the committee to investigate a member of the House for wrong-doing without a majority vote. The rules used to stipulate that in the event of a tie an investigation would be triggered thereby upholding the bi-partisan flavor of the body.

The rule changes have effectively stalemated the committee and allowed Tom Delay to thwart the system set up to weed out those who would abuse their power. The committee’s ranking Democrat, Rep. Alan B. Mollohan (W.Va.), said recently in an interview that
"[T]hese rules undermine the ability of the committee to do its job…an ethics committee has to do a good job if it's going to do any job at all."
He made these remarks after the committee met, stalemated, and fail to agree to start an investigation into Delay’s latest violations of House ethics rules.

These are far from Delay’s only flirtation with lapse ethics. In Texas, three of his close associates have been indicted on charges of illegal corporate campaign contributions and money laundering by Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle, based in Austin. It is alleged that most of the money was raised from corporations in 2002 and fueled the now famous (infamous if you are a Democrat) Republican takeover of the Texas legislature. Such contributions are a violation of Texas state law.

The three associates are Jim Ellis, a close Delay political associate, fundraiser Warren RoBold and John Colyandro, executive director of DeLay's political action committee, Texans for a Republican Majority (TRMPAC). In addition to the charges of illegal contributions, indictments on charges of money laundering were also leveled against both Colyandro and Ellis.

Can any rational thinking person believe the Delay did not have a hand in the wrongdoings? And again House ethics rules were changed by the Republican leadership to protect him in case he is indicted.

What of our vaunted American system of checks-and-balances if one party can run rouge-shot over the other in an undecidedly undemocratic flaunting of power? Has Delay grown too powerful and the Speaker too weak, and the House too sullied with the excrement of the Republicans flagrant and abusive power-grapping shenanigans to be trusted with the peoples business?

Related Storeis:

DeLay linked to fund-raising for PAC under investigation

Texas Dems See Violations in DeLay Actions

DeLay PAC Lawsuit Goes to Trial in Texas

DeLay: More Cash—And More Questions