Thursday, June 5, 2008

AZ's GOP and The Constitution: Oil and Water?

Over at PolitickerAZ is the continuing report of a survey of AZ CD5 Republican primary candidates' views on burning issues of the day.

Now that I've read it, I realize once again that I can't look to Republicans like Susan Bitter Smith and Mark Anderson (or John McCain) to consult the founding documents for guidance on how a true American should resolve a controversial question like gay marriage.

The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights--and the blood shed to sanctify them--established our Republic. Only they define what it means to be an American. Therefore, patriotic Americans don’t just wear flags on their lapels. They swear allegiance to these founding principles, and solemnly promise to uphold, protect, and defend them.

The Declaration begins, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” The Constitution and Bill of Rights reaffirm these distinctively American principles.

There it is, in plain English. Every American knows from first grade that (1) it is self evident (2) that ALL of us have (3) God-given rights that (4) no one can sever from us for any reason. Although we can forfeit these rights by committing certain felony offenses, they cannot be arbitrarily taken away. This means that I have exactly the same right to Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness that any other American has, whether they agree or not.

If you are a patriotic American, you don’t just give this lip service. You are sworn to uphold my rights just as I am sworn to uphold yours. Further, if you are a patriotic American, you have sworn your allegiance to the conviction that your religion does not trump mine. You have sworn to uphold, protect, and defend my rights as if they were your own.

I have seen Democrats assert these values proudly, and I have also seen Democrats trample them. But in all my 60 years, I don’t believe I’ve ever heard a single Republican assert these views in order to defend somebody else’s freedoms.

Surely I'm mistaken, but it certainly seems not. It’s been just the opposite. Republicans truly seem to have an in-the-grain antipathy to the concept that all of us have equal unalienable rights. Instead of affirming that, time and again they seek to limit it—-as in proposing a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage--or undermine it altogether, as in specious “strict construction” and “judicial activism” arguments.

I’ve never understood this, and I want to know.

What is there in the Republican psychology or political philosophy that doesn’t accept, let alone revere, this primary affirmation that makes an American an American?

I’d like to hear Susan Bitter Smith and Mark Anderson and John McCain answer that.

I’d also like to hear them justify their stance on gay marriage with reference to their sworn allegiance to uphold, protect, and defend the Constitution, and enumerate the specific, real, concrete, and irreversible harm my marriage in fact has done to them.

I don’t want to hear the rhetoric. I've so been there and done that. I want to see irrefutable proof of tangible harm.

Will they point to their interpretation of religion and say that it transcends the Constitution and the Bill of Rights? Not if they are true American patriots. Will they insist that their social and psychological comfort ought to take precedence over my fundamental rights? Not if they are real American patriots.

If they dare make it, I'd like to hear their constitutional defense of their positions that I have no right to live my life in liberty, that they have the right to define whom I may marry, and that my definition of my personal happiness in this most profound of all relationships is not worth their notice. I’m waiting.

Surely it's time for us to hold all our candidates to their oath of office. If they can't even pass that scratch and sniff test, we need to be looking elsewhere.