One of the benefits of being an American citizen is the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment that guarantees; “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.” That one clause is a highlight of the Constitution that defines liberty and freedom, and separates America from countries like Iran and Afghanistan. Yesterday in Minnesota and Tennessee, Republican lawmakers made great strides toward becoming rivals to the oppressive regimes in North Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Taliban controlled Afghanistan with measures that are contrary to the 14th Amendment.
In Minnesota, the House joined the Senate in approving a constitutional amendment for the 2012 ballot that will ban same-sex marriage in the state. The vote was split down party lines with 2 Democrats joining all but 4 Republicans in approving the ballot measure. There was impassioned debate that lasted 5 hours with many personal stories from each side of the aisle to either support or oppose the measure. One Republican legislator pointed out that the only argument in support of the measure had as its basis “a religious justification,” and he correctly reminded the assembly that in America, religion had no place dictating law. He cautioned other Republican legislators that “they had to be careful not to enshrine their religious beliefs, no matter how religiously valid we believe them to be in the Minnesota constitution.”
Another Republican representative, John Kriesel, who lost both legs to an IED blast in Fallujah, Iraq, said that, “this amendment doesn’t represent what I went to fight for.” Kriesel also passed around a gay soldier’s picture who was killed in Afghanistan in February of this year while “fighting, giving us the right to have this debate…and that I cannot look at this photo and tell this soldier’s family that you were good enough to fight for this country and give your life, but you were not good enough to marry the person you love.” Representative Kriesel was one of four Republicans to vote against placing the amendment on the ballot. Minnesota was not the only state to, “deprive any person of life, liberty…nor deny to any person…the equal protection of the laws.”
In Tennessee, a law (SB 632) that abolishes anti-discrimination ordinances passed by cities and counties was signed into law by Republican governor Bill Haslam. The law legalizing anti-gay discrimination is inspired by religious fervor and hatred of gays, and was opposed by AT&T, FedEx, and several other corporations. The Tennessee Chamber of Commerce initially supported the bill but changed position after being subjected to pressure from the corporate world. It is noteworthy that the conservative driven Chamber of Commerce was in favor of discrimination until the business world exerted its substantial influence to foster diversity and inclusiveness. Last week, the Tennessee senate passed a bill that banned school lessons that have anything to do with LGBT people because of religious motivation.
Although these two states are the latest to pass bigoted measures restricting the rights of gays, they are certainly not the first, and unfortunately will not be the last. In both cases the impetus is not the interest of equality and fairness, but forcing a religious belief on the entire population which is in direct opposition to the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause of the 1st Amendment of the Constitution. In both states the measures were supported and passed by Republican majorities who are beholden to the bible instead of the United States Constitution. The Republican legislators who voted for these discriminatory laws took the same oath of office as their Democratic counterparts, and swore to uphold and defend the Constitution; not the bible.
The refrain of the Republican Party these days is “to return to the Founding Fathers’ original intent of the Constitution,” but they belie that mantra when it involves people who are not following the tenets of ancient Jewish mythology. Same-sex marriage or anti-discrimination laws have no fiscal impact on either of the states, and at a time when states are struggling with budgetary concerns, Republicans have made their priority denying freedom to gays.
The actions in the states mirrors the legislative priorities of Republicans in Congress who have spent four months attacking women’s rights as well as an effort to reinstate the discriminatory DADT law instead of job creation because the bible tells them so. It is a dangerous precedent to legislate the bible as the law of the land, and is part of a movement to tweak the 1st Amendment to delete the separation of church and state from the Constitution at the behest of extremist Christian fundamentalists. To support their theocratic takeover of the government, Republicans are promoting the revisionist history of David Barton and evangelical maniacs who are instilling the fallacious notion that the Founding Fathers intended America to be a Christian nation. It is a power play that has the support of conservative think-tanks and wealthy industrialists like the Koch brothers who are tapping in to the social conservative voting bloc to ensure conservatives are firmly entrenched in the government.
America was never intended to be a Christian nation or a theocracy, and the Founders would be revolted at the way the Constitution is being assailed with such determination by Republicans who wave the flag of patriotism. It is bad enough they are on a mission to change America into a theocracy, but the real tragedy is that they have such abject contempt for human beings who are not like them.
America is being polluted by fundamentalists, and their campaign to deprive gays of their constitutional rights is only eclipsed by the Republican attempts to deny women their right to choose their own reproductive health. Today they are targeting gays and women with a theocratic crusade based on an obscure biblical reference. It won’t be long till they distort the bible to attack minorities, and when they have accomplished that they will find a reason to attack the remaining non-compliant Americans. They will not stop under any circumstance because they are true believers, fascist fundamentalists, and homophobic monsters. Their mythological Jesus would abhor them the same way they abhor gays, women, and the Constitution of the United States of America. The traitors belong in prison.