Tuesday, June 16

Opinion? Meet Fact.

I don't know about you, but when I was in 8th grade, we had to study the Constitution. Everyone murmured ominously about it from 6th grade on.."When you're in 8th grade, you have to take the Constitution Test, and if you don't pass, you don't graduate!"

I don't have any idea if that was true (the graduation part). The test and the topic? Those were true. We visited the state capitol, we learned about the history of the constitution, we had to memorize the preamble, and had to know all about the bill of rights. Did you have to do that? Do they still do that?

Because I'm tellin' you right now...it sure doesn't seem like it.

I'm not talking today about what I favor or don't favor. I'm not talking about what I think is right, or who I think should be in office. I'm not saying what laws I think should be changed. You know why? Because it doesn't really matter what my personal feelings are on the relative importance of the battle for equal marriage and the statements of its advocates and foes. I totally get it that my positions on health care or the war in the Middle East don't move mountains. It's of no particular importance that I disagree with pro-life advocates and the NRA. I have opinions, there's no doubt about that. But I don't generally lose sleep at night over the arguments of those whose position is different than my own. As they say, it's a free country.

BUT. And I mean BUT...The one thing that drives me right out of my skull is when people in power--in the government, in the media, in organizations--fail to understand basic 8th grade constitutional law or argue their positions based on information that is simply inaccurate, or as we like to call it in today's semantically correct world, misinformation. When I was a kid, back in the age of the dinosaurs, we called those things lies. And we called the people who said them...you guessed it...liars.

Now we're oh so kind. We give people--even when they're politicians--the benefit of the doubt. We say "Oh, well, they must not have understood." or "She's entitled to her opinion" or, best yet, "Oh, I'm sure that's not exactly what she meant".

Me? I'm into "keeping them honest". That's my thing.

In order to keep people honest, it appears that a lot of Americans need a few lessons. So, as a public service (and for no other reason, mind you), I'm stepping in.

News flash. Opinion and fact are two different things (hey! kinda like church and state! what a coincidence!). I know, there are many of us who never learned that distinction. But I'm tellin' ya, it's true. Yes, I acknowledge that everyone is entitled to my their own opinion. It's just that I happen to think it's important that argument be based on facts, especially if you plan on using it to deprive other people of their rights. Is that too much to ask?

Now this, I lose sleep over. Or perhaps more to the point, it makes me effin' crazy.

This morning, when I was doing my regular little skim around the internet, and I found this editorial, I was pretty okay. At first. I mean, it was pretty well written, and I agree with the opinion being stated. No big deal. I moved on. But I had a few extra minutes, and I decided to scroll down and read some of the reader comments (since I'm a reader comment kinda gal). And I saw this one. Number 16 on the reader comment list, from a certain S.P. in St. Louis, Missouri, a heterosexual who is, thank god, an avid writer of not only reader comments, but of letters to congress on issues s/he feels are important. On this particular morning, Mr. or Ms. S.P. saw fit to share with us the answer s/he received from his/her (I know that's annoying, but geez, there's no way to know, and I'm grateful, so I figure respect is the least I can do, at least until we come up with gender neutral pronouns, which I hope happens, like, tomorrow) senator, Claire McCaskill (D-Mo). Which, coincidentally (not really), was the point where steam started coming out of my ears.

You can read the comment for yourself via the link above, so I won't copy Senator McCaskill's letter in full (S.P. did, in fact, post the entire letter). I will just highlight the portion that produced the majority of the aforementioned steam.

"Our nation’s founding fathers had the remarkable sensibility and foresight to protect religious freedom, and as your Senator and a practicing Christian, I will remain committed to upholding every American’s right to freely practice and express their faith as they so choose. Our government has no business forcing a religious faith to conduct or recognize any marriage."

Um...perhaps it would be good to stay on topic? As in...what does civil marriage have to do with every American's right to "freely practice and express their faith"?

Right! Nothing!! Absolutely nothing! Zero, nada, zip.

Wow. You're good. You could be on a game show.

But far more importantly than that (this is the $500 level question, get ready)...don't you think that our elected officials, who have sworn under oath to protect and defend the constitution of the United States of America, should know that?

It reminds me of the reason that children and the "mentally incompetent" are not allowed to sign contracts nor, in many cases, take an oath. It is assumed that they lack "legal capacity", meaning that they simply cannot fully understand the nature and consequences of their actions. So here's what we're saying: when, as a society, we decide that someone doesn't fully understand the implications of an agreement, we do not allow them to make such an agreement. I'm thinking that should pertain to our elected leaders. If you don't understand fully what the constitution says, then maybe you shouldn't be allowed to take an oath to protect and defend it. This Senator McCaskill? She doesn't get it.

Because there's a lot more in there.

First off, how about the sentence,

"Our government has no business forcing a religious faith to conduct or recognize any marriage"

Where does any U.S. Senator get this information? How did she come to believe that any religious faith would be forced to conduct a marriage between two people of the same sex? (psst...I'm taking bets that it was her pastor). Shouldn't we expect our elected officials to educate themselves on the facts? Geez, she has a staff--they could look it up for her.

I personally know of countless numbers of rabbis who will not agree to marry interfaith couples, because it conflicts with their religious beliefs. I know for a fact that many clergy will not agree to marry couples who do not agree to attend a class or a series of counseling sessions. There are certainly Catholic priests who refuse to marry someone who has been divorced. It is simply a FACT that clergy are not required to marry ANYONE.

Like I said, Senator McCaskill has a staff. They could have looked it up for her. But since they obviously didn't, I'm doing it. Here ya go.

This article clarifies how it works in Massachusetts:

California clarified it here (Answer #20):

Vermont clarified it here:

Connecticut, Maine & New Hampshire (and Vermont) are clarified here:

And here's an article about how it works in Iowa (and a pretty interesting one about this whole issue to boot).

So that's settled.

And we don't even have to go that far to address that "protect religious freedom" thing. There are numerous religious denominations that strongly support and are happy to perform same sex marriages. The constitution's "wall of separation between church and state" blatantly forbids the government from favoring one religion over another--that is the essence of freedom of religion. So...prioritizing the beliefs of religious faiths that oppose same sex marriages over equally valid religious faiths that support it, is clearly in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

Simple. Done.

Perhaps people--including senators--ought to read and research a little bit more and listen to their pastors a little bit less?

As for me, I'm off to look for a sponsor for a new bill that I want introduced at the state and federal levels. Here's my idea:

I'm thinking that elected officials should have to pass the 8th grade Constitution Test. It can be multiple choice, because otherwise, they might get too scared (or we might not be able to find anybody to serve), and we don't want to be mean.

If they don't pass, they don't graduate.

Wanna sign the petition?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I remember hearing that about the 8th grade and yes we traveled to DC. I have no idea if they still do that but sure they do.

If the politicians listened to anything the forefathers put out there in the constition, I am sure the country wouldn't be in the mess we are in now. It reminds me of how my son plays his games (he is 7) He makes up the rules as he goes. And of course all the people (sheep) listen and follow and not give a shit if it is right or wrong.

As far as religion and marrage, it is annoying to hear them together. Marrage has nothing to do with religion. It is a legal act. You can get married without having anything to do with the church. You can take your beliefs to create the ceremony but you still have to go up to the courts to get the certificate. You can have the courts without the church but you can't have the church without the courts. So in all terms meant, it is not a religious action. (In other words, I agree) :-)