Equality is a reality, not a right.
This morning on Face the Nation, Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio made two fairly significant assertions. Put these two statements together, and let the logic-ache begin! Like Ron Silver in Timecop, if they occupy the same space at the same time, nothing remains but a puddle of conceptual goo:
1) Homosexuality is not a choice; rather, sexual preference is from birth;
2) Same-sex marriage is not a constitutional right, not for the courts to decide; if gays or lesbians want to marry, they can petition their legislatures like “anybody else.”
In other words, LGBT Americans are born that way, but even so, it is up to the state to decide whether or not they are treated equally.
Does that remind anyone else of anything from our national past?
The question before us is, whether the class of persons described in the plea in abatement compose a portion of this people, and are constituent members of this sovereignty? We think they are not, and that they are not included, and were not intended to be included, under the word “citizens” in the Constitution, and can therefore claim none of the rights and privileges which that instrument provides for and secures to citizens of the United States. On the contrary, they were at that time considered as a subordinate and inferior class of beings, who had been subjugated by the dominant race, and, whether emancipated or not, yet remained subject to their authority, and had no rights or privileges but such as those who held the power and the Government might choose to grant them.
Ten points if you recognize that quote. Clue: It has nothing to do–directly–with the comments made by Marco Rubio, mentioned above. But, before I tell you what it is from, tell me this: that underlined section there–sounds a bit similar, right?
This is a quote from the majority decision of Chief Justice Roger B. Taney’s 1854 Supreme Court, in a case we like to call, simply, Dred Scott. You know, that time the Court ruled that certain blacks (namely, those whose ancestors were “imports” rather than immigrants; in other words, someone’s property, freighted here like a bunch of bananas) were not, and could not, be considered citizens equal under the law until such time as the law condescended to view them as such…which to that point it had not.
Now, you may protest that these two situations are not the same. But while the details may differ, the sentiment is suspiciously alike. A sector of our society which, according to Rubio himself, through no other circumstance than birth falls into a certain demographic, still must be granted equality by, as Taney phrased it, “those who held the power and the Government.” Because same-sex marriage isn’t, again in Rubio’s words, a constitutional right.
Newsflash: Heterosexual marriage is not a constitutionally-guaranteed right, either. But strangely enough, my wife and I did not have to petition our legislators for the “right” to get married. Hmmm…
The fact of the matter is that opposition to same-sex marriage has nothing to do with the Constitution, and everything to do with the fact that many of us just think it’s weird. We don’t get it, because to us, it’s different. Well, I think it’s weird that someone like Rubio, with his nineteenth-century thinking, could be in the high position he’s in and derive any support in the process. But that, too, is one of the hallmarks of this thing we call “democracy”: anyone is allowed to voice his or her opinion on (almost) any topic. Why?
Because, in this country, everyone is EQUAL.