Copyright © 2004 Henrietta W. Hay
Gay Marriage and the Constitution
March 5, 2004
The CU football scandal and the gay marriage ceremonies in San
Francisco almost pushed the election campaign out of the news for a few
days. But when President Bush came out in favor of a Constitutional
amendment forbidding gay marriage, politics took over again and that
issue automatically became a big part of the election campaign.
I believe that the Constitution should not be amended except for
extremely important reasons. It's working remarkably well as it is. the
U. S. Constitution is a wonderful document. it has kept us as a nation
with one system of government, functioning efficiently (well, sort of)
for over 200 years. The U. S. is the only country in the history of the
world which has lasted that long under one Constitution probably because
our Constitution is about limiting government, not excluding people.
I spent one morning last week re-reading the 26 amendments to the
constitution. It's not as much fun as reading a mystery, but it's good
for the character to read them once in a while.
Some of them set up rules, such as the date Congress meets each year,
the method of choosing a President and Vice-President. But most of the
others, including of course the Bill of Rights, are designed to limit
the power government has over the individual citizen. They give the
individual rights by limiting government and that is what has made us
My favorite amendment is, and I am sure this surprises no one, the
nineteenth. "The right of citizens of the United States shall not be
denied or abridged . . . . .because of sex." That empowers individuals
and takes power away from government. It says "Government, you can't
keep half the citizens from voting any longer."
But in recent years the Conservative Christian movement has been adding
spiritual beliefs to political issues. And now they are proposing to
add them to the Constitution.
Colorado Representative Marilyn Musgrave has presented an amendment that
adds to the power of government and limits the rights of some citizens,
an amendment which would bring individual religious and cultural
beliefs into the Constitution. It would forbid same sex marriage.
I suspect that in the long run it has as much chance of becoming the
28th amendment as I have of becoming President, but the issue gives the
President a way to strengthen his conservative base. And it has
started another major political war just before the election.
There is a long-standing cultural battle over the question of gay
marriage. Legally it belongs in the individual states. I'm always
interested in the Republicans who speak so enthusiastically about states
rights, but so often try to weaken them. This issue does not belong in
the Constitution. More and more conservatives who oppose the fact of
gay marriage are coming out against an amendment.
But it does make a wonderful issue for President Bush. Just three weeks
ago he said that the issue did not rise in importance to the level of a
Constitutional amendment. But a few days after several Democratic
caucuses he said, "the preservation of marriage rises to this level of
In the words of Col. Potter, Horsepucky! If you want important, how
about the 3.3 million jobs that have been lost, a 33% rise in
unemployment, the erosion of the Bill of Rights, the missing weapons of
mass destruction in Iraq, and a national debt of $7,000,000,000,000
(that's trillion if you have forgotten) or $24,187 per citizen.
Maureen Dowd wrote, we should not "codify discrimination in the
constitution, which in the past has been used to give fuller citizenship
rights to blacks, women and young people."
Whatever your opinion or mine might be on the subject of gay marriage,
this is an issue for the states to figure out, not a reason for amending