We the People

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. Politics and civil commentary with community columnist John Eyster.

New Life - Easter - FULL EQUALITY for ALL persons!

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John Eyster
Sunday, March 31, 2013

New Life - Easter - FULL EQUALITY for ALL persons!

As I celebrate EASTER with its promise of new and full life, I am especially mindful of the discussions in our US Supreme Court last week wrestling with the issue of FULL EQUALITY for ALL persons. I believe in FULL EQUALITY. I am among those Christians who believe that GOD is still speaking. Do YOU?

We KNOW that the 2 cases heard by our US Supreme Court last week re. EQUALITY of persons in the USA will be truly LANDMARK cases from the current court term. I have been studying these cases to be prepared for a special case study to use with the AP US Government & Politics teachers who participate in the AP Summer Institute @UW-Madison at the end of June 2013. Dr. David Canon and I have been the co-instructors of this AP course since it was started in 1996.

The ORALS and FULL TRANSCRIPTS from the Supreme Court last week are both available online NOW. I encourage you to use these links to hear the actual oral arguments and/or read the transcripts:

“Hollingsworth v. Perry” – Proposition #8 – CA law. Orals on March 26, 2013.

“US v. Windsor” – Is DOMA constitutional? Orals on March 27, 2013.

You will find numerous news articles about each of the days in our US Supreme Court in various newspapers. I suggest the Washington Post’s articles which I read to learn more about the cases and gained valuable perspective. Again, you are able to use these links for those articles on these cases:

“Supreme Court justices conflicted on same-sex marriage case.”

“Majority of Supreme Court justices question constitutionality of Defense of Marriage Act.”

If you want to delve into the issue of same-sex marriage in the political arena, I encourage you to read Time magazine’s feature article, “How Gay Marriage Won” by David von Drehle published March 28, 2013. This article provides a very informative review of the whole evolution of attitudes, behaviors and laws vis-à-vis same-sex relations and behaviors in the US.

The conclusion of the article reports a very poignant part of the orals which, I believe, clarifies the evolution of acceptance of same-sex relationships and, I believe sooner or later, marriage. I quote:

“Olson, the conservative lawyer who argued for George W. Bush in 2000, is yet another of the Americans whose opposition to same-sex marriage has turned to solid support. But he had trouble satisfying Scalia’s demand for the particular moment.

“’When?’ Scalia repeated. ‘When did that happen?’

“At last, Olson had to give the only answer possible — the true answer in a country where people are free to change their minds. ‘There’s no specific date in time,’ he said of the many-threaded story. ‘This is an evolutionary cycle.’”

Reviewing many news articles, OpEd columns and editorials, I myself agree with those who assert that whether the US Supreme Court decides that EQUALITY is required by our US Constitution or not, FULL EQUALITY of persons regardless of sexual orientation is the inevitable evolution for WE THE PEOPLE of the US!

I agree with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s editorial published on March 28, 2013, “Court should strike down bans on same-sex unions: Simple fairness demands that all couples be treated equally under the law.”

I cite this editorial because it is LOCAL with reference to the amendment WE THE PEOPLE of WI added to our WI State Constitution in 2006. I voted against that amendment. I do NOT think that amendment would pass if put to referendum NOW. What do YOU think? How would YOU vote?

The editorial provides thoughtful analysis of the situation NOW as our US Supreme Court evaluates the 2 cases it heard last week stating, “The smart money says that the U.S. Supreme Court will strike down key portions of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. That's certainly what the justices seemed to be signaling Wednesday on the second day of hearing arguments on the issue of same-sex marriage.”

I hope that the editorial’s recommendation that the Supreme Court should strike down state bans on same-sex unions, “But striking down the 1996 federal law that recognizes only the marriage of opposite-sex couples for more than 1,000 federal laws and programs is the least the court should do. If the justices really want to accord equal treatment under the law to all Americans, they also should strike down state bans on same-sex unions, just as the court struck down state bans on interracial marriage in the 1960s.” Why NOT?

The argument continues, “On the issue of the state bans, the justices seemed much softer. The smart money there has them looking for a way out of a ruling that would endorse same-sex marriage.

I wholeheartedly agree with the editorial’s assertion, “But there is no good legal argument that would allow them to do that. Perhaps the answer is to have government issue civil union licenses to all couples and let churches handle ‘marriages.’ But whatever the answer, simple fairness demands that all couples be treated equally under the law.”

IF you oppose same-sex marriage, how do you respond to the editorial’s poignant argument? “The idea that the institution of marriage is damaged by allowing same-sex couples to marry or form civil unions doesn't wash. Marriage is much more damaged by a high divorce rate, an unwillingness to commit to marriage by many heterosexual couples and by the large number of single parents.”

I myself agree with the editorials’ challenge, “Fix those issues, and then maybe marriage can be restored to its traditional place among the nation's institutions. But it should still include committed same-sex couples. There is no difference in the commitment that loving couples make, whether they are same-sex or opposite sex.” What do YOU think?

Then comes the report on the REALITY of the political situation, “The nation is ahead of the court on this issue. Although same-sex bans were passed in a number of states including Wisconsin in recent years, the tide has shifted. Polls show an increasing willingness to accept same-sex couples and grant them the rights of other couples. And even in Wisconsin, as the Journal Sentinel's Craig Gilbert found in an article published Thursday, state voters might still vote for such a ban, but they might not. And at the very least, the vote would be much closer than it was in 2006.”

So, I agree, “As with civil rights issues in the 1950s and '60s, the Supreme Court has an opportunity this spring to broaden the freedoms accorded to all Americans. It should not hesitate to do so.” What do YOU think?

Having cited ABRAHAM LINCOLN’s challenge to WE THE PEOPLE of the US to make 3 key resolutions in his Gettysburg Address, I would underscore the 2nd resolution, “that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom.” I understand that LINCOLN was NOT thinking about same-sex marriage as he spoke at Gettysburg. I do believe, however, that LINCOLN’s vision of EQUALITY would today embrace ALL PERSONS regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation. LINCOLN’s values and policies too would have evolved. EVOLVED as have President Barack Obama’s! EVOLVED as have mine! EVOLVED as have many of us – WE THE PEOPLE of the US!

TODAY is EASTER! I am among those Christians who believe that GOD is still speaking and that humankind dare NOT put a period where GOD has put a comma. Humankind likes to place “PERIODS.” And then we learn – EVOLVE to the understanding – that GOD really put a “COMMA” … what is YOUR belief?

Here we go…

Mr. E.

Last updated: 9:24 am Monday, April 29, 2013

John W. Eyster lives in the Edgerton area. He is an adjunct professor assigned with the online/distance education faculty of Viterbo University, LaCrosse. He continues his personal mission supporting democracy/civics education in Wisconsin K-12 schools through Project Citizen, We the People, Discovering Democracy (Milton HS). John is a community blogger and is not a part of The Gazette staff or management.

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