31.8.07

Equal Rights = No Excuses

This week, an Iowa Judge ruled that Iowa's ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. This got me thinking, why is same-sex marriage okay in some states, but not in others? [Actually, I had already thought about this a bit, and this post is just a previous post with some edits and additions to make it more coherent]

Before I go any further, I first want to define how I view sexual orientation in reference to the law. Homosexuality is practically undefinable. It is a personal preference, a thought, a desire. This is not legislatable. There is no test for homosexuality. There exist homosexual acts, but these can be done by people who later claim not to actually be homosexual. Sexual acts could hypothetically be legislated, if the Supreme Court had not already ruled against this, but banning sodomy would apply to both hetero- and homosexual sex.

No, a state's limitation of marriage as only between one man and one woman, like all discrimination of homosexuals, is in fact a specialized form of gender discrimination. The objection is not to a man marrying a man, but that the person marrying a man is not a woman (and opposite for lesbians). Had the person been the opposite gender, it would be considered acceptable. If it's okay for a woman to have sex with a man, but not a man, then that is gender discrimination.

Section I, Article I of Iowa's State Constitution states: All men and women are, by nature, free and equal, and have certain inalienable rights--among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining safety and happiness.

In my view, and more importantly in the view of Polk County Judge Robert Hanson, this negates any laws banning same-sex marriage. "Couples, such as plaintiffs, who are otherwise qualified to marry one another may not be denied licenses to marry or certificates of marriage or in any other way prevented from entering into a civil marriage... by reason of the fact that both person comprising such a couple are of the same sex," he said. (I am fairly sure, though, that my interpretation does not go as far toward restricting gender discrimination as Hanson's interpretation. I also have been unable to find out if the ruling was in reference to the state constitution or the federal constitution [and this is important], but I assume this was just an in-state issue.)

The "Progressive" state of Wisconsin foresaw such a court ruling, and passed an amendment to the state constitution last year, defining marriage to be between a man and a woman. As it was an amendment to the state constitution, it overrides any state statute banning discrimination. It will now take federal action to overrule our state's ban on same-sex marriage. I would not be surprised to see a referendum for a similar amendment on the ballots in Iowa next fall. Especially since these kinds of amendments are often introduced to draw out higher numbers of conservative voters, and there may be one or two elections that the Republicans will be trying to win next fall.

I do not think there is any federal ban on gender discrimination. The 14th amendment reads: "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." Since the 19th amendment, giving women voting rights, was passed later, and the Equal Rights Amendment, explicitly prohibiting sex discrimination, was introduced much later, but was not passed, I would reason that gender discrimination is not unconstitutional. And clearly, gender separated rest rooms and athletic teams would be considered "separate but equal," and would be illegal if the 14th amendment applied to gender the same way it has been found to apply to race. Yet both are prevalent in public and in state institutions.

So, I will again present a call for an Equal Rights Amendment. A constitutional amendment mandating gender equality is the only stop-all measure to allow same-sex marriage. Any amendment just specifically allowing same-sex marriage would be simpler, but could be easily thwarted by states that redefine or rename marriage. I would expand the original E.R.A. from just sex to include race, national origin, and age for those over 18, because I don’t like women any more than I like old farts, queers, niggers, ‘spics, Arabs, or Jews, Bitches. My proposed amendment would read:

Section 1: Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex, race, or national origin, nor on account of age to any individual 18 years of age or older.

Section 2: The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.


[I intentionally left off religion from the list. In my opinion, the government should not be labeling beliefs as "religious" and then treating them differently. The mere act of labeling something as a religious belief violates the 1st amendment, as it is establishing one religion over all others that aren't deemed religions. The only way we can truly have freedom of religion is if the state completely avoids the term. I am very close to broadening sex out to the full genetic makeup, as a ban against any state eugenic programs.]

I do realize this would have some far-reaching consequences, particularly in regards to the Supreme Court's ruling against "separate but equal" policies, and the fact that my amendment explicitly forbids giving special protection to any group mentioned. I'll discuss these consequences in the comments section. I know my view is not a popular one. Those who support gay marriage rights will probably hate this as much as those who don't support gay marriages. But it's the way I would do it.

I realize that while I have made my point that passing an E.R.A. would make same-sex marriage legal, I have not yet given any reason why we should pass an E.R.A. You know, besides the Jeffersonian idea that the bedrock principles of our democracy – "all men are created equal," "liberty and justice for all," "equal justice under law," "government of the people, by the people, and for the people" – apply equally to everyone.

It has been my philosophy that individuals should be assessed as individuals, and not as just members of a group. Sure, it's easier to establish prejudices. Making up your mind based on what someone's external features is quick and easy, and it's usually right. But the only way to be right 100% of the time is to evaluate each person.

We would like to make sure only competent drivers have licenses. Old people are more likely to be bad drivers. It may be more efficient to just require old people to take drivers' tests every few years to test their skills. But there will still be some middle aged people who are terrible drivers who aren't stopped. So, because the onset of bad driving can occur at different ages for different people, I say let's just test everyone and be sure about it.

Sure, some gay people might lead irresponsible lives, full of recreational drugs and casual sex. They should not be allowed to adopt children, and I question the seriousness of their relationships. But plenty of straight people do the same things. Let's not punish some just because of the actions of others you have grouped them with. Evaluate them as individuals and give them the same rights to ruin their lives and create dysfunctional families we all think we deserve.

So let's imagine that my rational treatise has somehow convinced enough people to get my E.R.A. passed. Let's start the extrapolations.

1. Marriage between two people is allowed, regardless of the sex of either person. This allows same-sex marriage. This does not open the door to polygamy, or incest, or bestiality, or any other crazy shit like marrying a VCR that Rick Santorum secretly would like to do. Animals, minors, toasters, and the like (sorry Pete Singer) would still not have the same rights as an adult human. While I can tolerate polygamy, it is in the best interest of the state to promote monogamy, so this will continue.

2. Gender separated public restrooms would have to be changed to unisex bathrooms. Hey, we used to have racially segregated restrooms, but we integrated, and people got over it. Sure, some women might not want men anywhere nearby when they are on the toilet, but to be honest, I don't want men anywhere nearby when I'm on the toilet either. We would adapt, either by building restrooms to provide more privacy, or by society becoming more open about what is really just a natural bodily function.

As for school locker rooms, I can see why there would be some objections. Perhaps, males and females might feel uncomfortable about undressing and showering together. Readers, I am going to let you in on a little secret. If you have ever taken a shower in gym class or any locker room, you have already gotten naked and showered with someone who is attracted to your gender. That's right, you have showered with a gay. And hopefully you weren't emotionally scarred by the experience. If you object to unisex locker rooms, you should be objecting to locker rooms in general. Again, we can become more open about it, or we can decide everyone deserves better individual privacy and put in private changing/showering stalls.

3. Title IX has gots to go (although in my opinion, a literal interpretation of Title IX would prohibit everything that Title IX has created). Gender segregated sports in publicly funded schools would be considered separate and unequal and so would be a violation of my anti-gender discrimination policy. Certain people have genes that helped them develop into better athletes than others. That's just how life is. People with a XY chromosomes typically perform better athletically than those with XX (except for flexibility and taking a shot to the groin). But there are plenty of boys who aren't good enough to start on their high school varsity team. They [I] get cut or benched, and no one cares. They just weren't good enough, and the fact that other boys were born with better genes is just a sad fact of life.

Co-ed sports is the only fair way to go. For grade school/low-competitive leagues: let everyone play an equal amount. For High-School/competitive leagues: male or female, the best athletes make the A team, the next make the B team. If any women are good enough to make the A team, then they should be congratulated, the way we celebrate the athletic achievements of short people, fat people, autistics, and Caucasians. But no one gets assigned to a team because they belong to a certain group. Individual achievement would depend on individual merit.

4. Affirmative Action has to go. Completely (no "holistic" admissions). If the goal is to give lower income students preference, because of the obstacles involved in breaking out of the lower socioeconomic barrier, then give all lower income students preference, not just those of certain races (or sexes).

5. The drinking age would be lowered to 18. Same for strip clubs and casinos. If you've got the responsibilities of an adult, you should have the rights of an adult. Enough said.

Everyone gets carded, no matter how old they appear to be. Requiring an ID for some and not for others based on age is discrimination. If I have to make sure I have my Driver's License with me to get into a bar while I'm 23, so should the creepy old guy behind me and the 16 year old girl in front of me.

6. Military service would be open to all. Don't ask, don't care. And women would also start being required to register for the draft too. If I get called up to go to war, you don't get to sit home and take my job just because you have a vagina. If a woman can't pass basic training, or lacks the mental ability to go to combat, then they get moved to a non-combat role, or discharged, same as any man who is not fit to fight. Everyone is judged on their individual capability to serve.

7. You would not have to be over 35 to run for President, or be a citizen from birth (You're welcome, Arnold). Why do we need to put such arbitrary limitations on candidates? Sure, most people won't vote for someone under 35, but they should still have the option. Every President so far has been an older, white, Protestant male (Kennedy, a 43-year-old Catholic male is an outlier). That doesn't mean we have to only consider older, white, Protestant males. Every citizen (perhaps excluding those ineligible to vote) should be eligible to serve in any federal position. It should be left to the electorate to decide whether someone is worthy of being elected based on their own individual merit.

8. There would be no age requirement for collecting Social Security. SS is a fund to provide benefits for retirement, disability, survivorship, and death. Retirement checks should be available for anyone who has worked and paid SS taxes for a set number of years. Those who have never held a job cannot retire. If someone has not put in the set number of years yet, but is just in too poor health to work anymore, they would be eligible under disability. If someone is able to work, but is not eligible for SS yet, they should keep working. Your eligibility should be determined based on your individual situation, not what age you happen to be.

9. Birth control and abortion laws do not need to change. There are many prescribed drugs that will work for some people and will not work for others. The Pill is one of them. Only giving medications to or performing medical procedures on those who need them is not denying any rights to those who do not receive them.

10. Racial profiling would be disbanded. We shouldn't limit security checks to those who look to be Arabic. We should be checking everyone who gets on the plane. There have been quite a few crazy white guys, too. And it's only a matter of time before Al Qaeda realizes that we won't be able to pick them out in a crowd if they shave and wear muggle clothes.

3 Comments:

Blogger Erik Opsal said...

Perhaps my favorite part:

"If I get called up to go to war, you don't get to sit home and take my job just because you have a vagina."

I don't really agree with the Title IX or unisex bathroom and locker rooms part. I think those are things people are completely OK with and are necessary to make people feel more comfortable (the bathrooms and locker rooms at least), so I don't see a need to change them.

16/8/07 15:59  
Blogger Dorshorst said...

For the bathrooms/locker rooms, I am recommending more privacy, individual stalls. My opinion is that we shouldn't force kids to shower in front of any of their classmates, much less their lesbian gym teacher (I know no females read this blog, but if they did, they would be nodding in agreement). I would suspect that there are a large number of people who hated showering in gym because of the lack of privacy.

I admit that my argument about Title IX is my weakest. I just philosophically think that people should always be evaluated on their individual abilities, and not some external identifier.

Most people would object to putting all boys into a higher math class, because in general, boys outperform girls in math. Or if we put the top X boys and to top X girls in, even though several boys who weren't in the top X still were better in math than some of the top X girls. Instead, we test everyone and put the high scorers in, regardless of gender.

16/8/07 22:08  
Blogger Erik Opsal said...

Oh no! You sound like Lawrence Summers! I never had to shower in gym class, but I wouldn't have liked it.

16/8/07 23:29  

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