Happy 235th Birthday, America!

In honor of our nation’s 235th Birthday, I have posted The Declaration of Independence, The United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights and all other Amendments to the Constitution as pages on my blog. They are found under the menu labeled “Founding The United States Of America.”

So, on this Fourth of July, take some time to read the founding documents and bedrock of the United States of America. Enjoy!

https://micahstwocents.wordpress.com/the-declaration-of-independence/

https://micahstwocents.wordpress.com/the-united-states-constitution/

https://micahstwocents.wordpress.com/the-bill-of-rights-all-other-amendments/

 

 

The Declaration of Independence

 

the first page of the United States Constitution

 

The United States Bill of Rights

 

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My Two Cents On New York’s Legalization Of Marriage Equality

On Friday, June 24, 2011, New York joined five other U.S. states by legalizing same-sex marriage. The bill passed in both the Assembly and Senate and was immediately signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Equality won in New York. However, gay couples in 44 other states are still treated as second-class citizens.

Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, Washington D.C. and now New York are the only areas of the country where gay couples are seen as equal in the eyes of the law. Civil unions (rights nearly identical – but not equal to – marriage) are legal in five U.S. states, including New Jersey, Illinois, Hawaii, Delaware and Rhode Island. Domestic Partnerships (rights very similar to – but definitely not equal to – marriage) are legal in eight U.S. states, including California (where they are essentially civil unions), Colorado, Maine, Maryland, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and Wisconsin. A total of 30 states have discrimination etched into their constitutions…despite the 14th Amendment.

Times are changing. For the first time in U.S. history, a majority of Americans support same-sex marriage, according to a Gallup poll released earlier this year. Gallup found that 53 percent of Americans support same-sex marriage, including a whopping 70 percent of young people (18-34).

Here in California, Prop 8 is most likely on its deathbed. The Ninth Circuit Court is continuing to review Judge Walker’s monumental 2010 decision that overturned Prop 8. I predict his decision will be upheld (thanks to his brilliant review) and that same-sex marriage will once again be legal in The Golden State before 2012. If not, gay activists and supporters have vowed to push for a ballot initiative in the 2012 election that would overturn Prop 8 and legalize same-sex marriage (what a sad statement on the justice system in this country if it comes to that…). If public opinion and changing attitudes are any indication, it would have no trouble passing.

When will the federal government of the United States treat all of its citizens equally? It is the 21st century and our knowledge of what it means to be human has progressed and evolved. Love transcends gender. Most people see their gay friends and family as deserving of all the rights they receive. 10 nations around the world have passed marriage equality. Isn’t the United States supposed to be a beacon of liberty and an example for the rest of the world to follow? One can only hope that the United States legal system doesn’t continue to drag its feet, trampling over the rights of an entire group of people.

A Manhattan crowd reacts to the passage of marriage equality in New York. Photo credit: Associated Press 2011

Walker, Legal Ranger

Federal Judge Vaughn Walker – who has the distinction of being the judge to make the monumental and historic decision that overturned California’s Proposition 8 – wrote a well-thought out and articulated analysis explaining why not allowing two people of the same sex to legally marry is unconstitutional and regressive.

From the anthropological and evolutionary roots of marriage to the discriminatory laws and attitudes that hold back human progress, Judge Walker left no holds barred in his stunning and precise analysis. One of the many notable sections include the following:

The evidence shows that the movement of marriage away from a gendered institution and toward an institution free from state-mandated gender roles reflects an evolution in the understanding of gender rather than a change in marriage. The evidence did not show any historical purpose for excluding same-sex couples from marriage, as states have never required spouses to have an ability or willingness to procreate in order to marry. FF 21. Rather, the exclusion exists as an artifact of a time when the genders were seen as having distinct roles in society and in marriage. That time has passed.

The right to marry has been historically and remains the right to choose a spouse and, with mutual consent, join together and form a household. FF 19-20, 34-35. Race and gender restrictions shaped marriage during eras of race and gender inequality, but such restrictions were never part of the historical core of the institution of marriage. FF 33. Today, gender is not relevant to the state in determining spouses’ obligations to each other and to their dependents. Relative gender composition aside, same-sex couples are situated identically to opposite-sex couples in terms of their ability to perform the rights and obligations of marriage under California law. FF 48. Gender no longer forms an essential part of marriage; marriage under law is a union of equals.

Whether social conservatives admit it or not, human society is always evolving and changing with new ideas and breakthroughs as well as through human evolution itself. To ignore this simple fact in favor of antiquated views and prejudice is ignorant and contrary to the American ideals of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Thankfully, we’re closer to equality for all in this country.

Prop 8 Overturned!

Prop 8 has been overturned. Today, California joins Iowa, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Washington DC in recognizing same-sex marriages. Regardless of how you feel about gay marriage, this is a great day for the Constitution.

Since all Americans receive – or are supposed to receive – equal treatment and protection under the law, logic would dictate that this also includes two people who are in a committed relationship.

America is a beacon of liberty and equality for all who are privileged to live here. If you’re not depriving anyone of their life, liberty or pursuit of happiness, you are encouraged to make your own life, live free and pursue your own happiness.

Just because one group – or groups – of people get together and declare another inferior does not in any way mean they then have the right to legally enslave them. Thomas Jefferson warned against this: he called it the “tyranny of the majority” in which the majority decides and dictates the rights of the minority.

In November 2008, California voters – many mislead through deceptive television ads and misinformation through “family” groups as well as the Mormon Church’s finances – approved Proposition 8 by a narrow 52%, which overturned the state court’s decision five months earlier allowing same-sex marriage in the Golden State.

21 months and two court challenges later, gay couples can now once again marry if they decide to.

Opposition has already planned to appeal to the 9th Circuit Court, whom I expect will uphold the decision. Should the US Supreme Court pick up the case (doubtful), they will either uphold today’s decision or maintain the ban. In that situation, I expect them to agree that homosexuals do in fact have the right to marry. This would strike down same-sex marriage bans in 41 states and overturn President Clinton’s “Defense of Marriage Act,” making the United States the 11th nation on the planet to legalize same-sex marriage.

Canada, Argentina, South Africa, Iceland, Portugal, Spain, The Netherlands, Belgium, Norway and Sweden all recognize same-sex marriage. Isn’t it time that the pioneering and forward-thinking United States joined?