A “Conservatarian” View of the SCOTUS Same Sex Marriage Decision

I’m not a constitutional scholar, but I’ve invested a good amount of time in this issue. I don’t need to reiterate what others have said about the intricacies of the Equal Protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Simply started, the Equal Protection clause states that all Americans are entitled to equal protection under the law, period.  What bears stating is the legal precedent in referencing the Fourteenth. Prior to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, there were “Jim Crow” laws in the southern states that required the states, under law, to segregate based on race. Facilities were supposed to be “separate but equal.” They rarely were equal. President Woodrow Wilson, an overt racist, practiced gross discrimination. The equally overt racist Democrats of the late 1800s through the mid 1960s did everything possible to undermine the anti-segregationist policies of the Republicans. The southern states felt their state sovereignty allowed them to discriminate within the borders of their states. The Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth was the constitutional basis for the federal government to overrule state sovereignty because the federal government is responsible for ensuring all citizens get equal protection under the law. Given the preponderance of states that have marital equality laws, it was not, in my mind, a far stretch to apply the same principles that shot down Jim Crow. What the Fourteenth does not touch is the right of people that are not agents of the state from discriminating except in areas such as housing and employment. This ties into the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. By law and practice, churches are not agents of the state. Congress cannot force a non-agent to act. I am an ordained minister. I cannot be compelled to perform any service for anyone. I don’t know the individual laws of every state where marital equality is the law, but I can tell you that Maryland’s law is well-crafted and explicitly protects the clergy. Here is the text of Question 6, the public referendum for marital equality in Maryland,

“Establishes that Maryland’s civil marriage laws allow gay and lesbian couples to obtain a civil marriage license, provided they are not otherwise prohibited from marrying; protects clergy from having to perform any particular marriage ceremony in violation of their religious beliefs; affirms that each religious faith has exclusive control over its own theological doctrine regarding who may marry within that faith; and provides that religious organizations and certain related entities are not required to provide goods, services, or benefits to an individual related to the celebration or promotion of marriage in violation of their religious beliefs.”

I am a libertarian. I voted for Question 6 even though I will not personally perform a same-sex ceremony. I am not discounting what I believe to be the biblical truth on the topic. I am standing behind the right of two people to enter into a legally binding contract, which in the eyes of the state, is what marriage is.

The reason we have this mess is that our bloated government stuck its nose into marriage, a thing formerly under the scope of religious bodies. It chose to grant legal privileges to married couples. Once it did that and the individual states began to legalize same sex marriage, it was inevitable that it would have to respond.

Before we are too quick to respond to this ruling, think of where America would be if Jim Crow was still in existence.

Imprisoned in my Baltimore Home

Earlier this evening, shortly after the curfew took effect, I stood at the back gate of my home in Baltimore City.  If I opened the gate and took a step onto the street, I would be breaking the law.  I felt a great need to express my sadness over what has become of my adopted home.  Here it is:

Freedom Bound in Darkness

The lads with no dads are always so mad

Hurting my town and breaking it down

Feeling a debt, taking what can be had

.

Prisoners of the night are those who want right

Their freedoms submerged until they all drown

Because the lads with no dads are always so mad

.

To them nothing is easy, it’s always a fight

Even joy is fleeting, it ends in a frown

Feeling a debt, taking what can be had

.

While they seem to run free, we’re bound until light

Some drown in blood, others break the crown

The lads with no dads are always so mad

.

When greed replaces need, the stores ignite

The charm has gone, with smoke it has flown

As they feel a debt and take what can be had

.

Teeming in numbers, faking true might

Losing their future, having infamy, not renown

The lads with no dads are always so mad

Feeling a debt, taking what can be had

A not so chance encounter

I had a wonderful discussion with a man from Rwanda that I met in the parking lot at the FDA where I am serving as a senior business systems analyst. While my French is atrocious, I could see that the book he was carrying was a history book dealing with the struggles between blacks and whites in Rwanda from 1990 to 1994. I asked him if he had seen the movie Hotel Rwanda and if it was accurate. He told me that he had and unfortunately, it wasn’t. We started talking about the Hutus and the Tutsis and racism. He asked about the origins of racism. I talked to him about Dutch and British colonialism, the caste system in India and the Untouchables in particular, and also the treatment of the aboriginal people of Australia by the British settlers and even more contemporary Australians. Then he asked me a very poignant question, “what do we do to get rid of racism in this country?” I told him that the best things that we can do are to dispel falsehoods by teaching the truth and to show ourselves as friendly and respectful toward those of different people groups. We have to dispel the falsehood that there is a unified hatred of one group by another by proving that at least one person of that group doesn’t hate them.
We discussed what sort of teachings might change people’s minds. I spoke to him about the common ancestry of humanity as described in the Hebrew Scriptures. I told him stories of Moses and how his own brother and sister were upset with him because he married an Ethiopian woman. I told him of the Jewish people from Ethiopia that stood as a testimony to the fact that we are truly one race of people, a message he echoed to me earlier in our conversation. I told him of the origin of humanity being from North Africa and drawing the conclusion that if all people came from one place, then the essence of all humanity is identical and we simply have different appearances.
I asked him if he was familiar with the Gospel story and how when the edict went out to kill the male children two years and younger that Mary and Joseph fled to North Africa. He knew the story well. Being a Jew in my heritage and my pedagogy, I asked him a question versus presenting my conclusion. I asked him, “would parents of a blonde-haired, blue-eyed boy hide in a place where everyone had brown skin and black hair?” He smiled and said, “no.” Then he surprised me. He pulled out a book and asked me if I though it was legitimate because he had a friend that only spoke French who needed this book in French. The title was, “Nouveau Testament.” He knew there were versions floating around that had slight changes to promote the doctrines of certain cults. I opened the book to Jean 1:1, recited John 1:1 in English and asked him if that’s what it said. He confirmed that. I asked him to look at the phrase, “and the Word was God” and make sure that there was no indefinite article there, a trick of the Jehovah’s Witnesses to substantiate their Arian (not to be confused with Aryan) doctrine of Christ. He said there was none. We did a similar drill with Jean/John 3:16. He confirmed that what it says was what I recited. He was very happy because now he could give his friend what he was asking for.
We both ended our work days with a wonderful encounter. I have been telecommuting for five years. While I dislike making the drive, I love meeting people face to face.

Ebola and Movie Night

If you are not concerned about Ebola in the U.S., you should be.  If you are unsure of where you stand on this issue, please do me a favor.  Take $2.99 and rent the movie Contagion with Matt Damon, et al. (http://smile.amazon.com/Contagion-Matt-Damon/dp/B006SV2LWA/ref=sr_pi_1_1_ha_syps_1_1?s=instant-video&ie=UTF8&qid=1412317520&sr=1-1&keywords=contagion).  It is a very well-done movie that does not go over the top in portraying the grim reality of how fast a deadly virus can impact a nation.  Here is a dialog from a particularly poignant scene:

Aubrey Cheever: How many people are gonna die?
Dr. Ellis Cheever: Well, in nineteen eighteen one percent of the population died from Spanish flu. It was novel, like this, no one had ever seen it before.
Aubrey Cheever: One percent of America?
Dr. Ellis Cheever: One percent of the world. As many as seventy million people could die, baby, maybe more.

That figure is actually too small.  According to the CDC, up to two percent of the world died from the Spanish Flu pandemic (http://www.flu.gov/pandemic/history/1918/the_pandemic/index.html). If you take the numbers from Wikipedia, it’s even higher (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1918_flu_pandemic).

This is bigger than ISIS or any other crisis facing the world.  We need to get a handle on this now or truly be in grave danger.