Letter: You can't vote away people's rightsThere is the mistaken perception that issues relating to discrimination may be resolved thought the ballot box. At present that issue focuses on gay marriage.
By: Richard W. Johnson, The Republican Eagle
To the Editor:
There is the mistaken perception that issues relating to discrimination may be resolved thought the ballot box. At present that issue focuses on gay marriage.
Numerous state bills, many proposing U.S. constitutional amendments, have been passed, the authors believing that discriminatory conduct can be ratified and have the effect of law if accomplished by a majority vote. If that were the case, civil rights legislation would have been overridden. The laws prohibiting intermarriage between African-Americans and Anglos would not have survived the ballot box. A number of states would still deny women the right to vote.
The inescapable fact is the majority, on any issue attempting to erode the rights of a minority, is prohibited to do that by the U.S. Constitution. That document’s primary purpose and mission is to protect the minority from the abuse of the majority.
Those who, usually for religious purposes, rigidly adhere to the “one man, one woman” advocacy may not deny the minority of their civil rights. Further, we are treading on fragile ground in advocating a national “religion” and using it as a “club” to dominate the political scene.
The U.S. Constitution does not utilize the word “God,” “Lord,” “Creator” or euphemism for the “Supreme Being,” although it is in our Declaration of Independence, where it rightfully belongs. The Constitution is our “Book of Laws,” whereas the Declaration of Independence is a broader, philosophical statement.
We must remember that at the time of this country’s founding and the creation of its infant system of laws, most citizens were members of a minority of one description or another.
The test of an issue as to whether it discriminates is simple: Does it treat one class of people different from another in regards to civil rights?
Minnesota will be called upon to render judgment regarding our gay/ Lesbian community, a minority, in November. Hopefully we will avoid the condemnation of later having the courts to tell us how to act.
Simply because a vote declares that a law becomes a part of a state or federal constitution, it still must pass a “constitutionality” test by the courts. The voting public does not possess that right.
Here in Minnesota, hopefully, we are a better people than that.
Richard W. Johnson