The error, one seemingly intentionally made in many cases, that certain demagogues and their ill-informed followers are making today is that they believe the constitution gives people rights. It does not. The rights have always been there, a scattering of “sticks” if you will, that the people gather about them in bundles of rights, tied together with the bonds of freedom. These bundles are sometimes strong, sometimes weak. What is critical is that the bundle is strengthened and weakened depending on the structure of the bundles. When a stick is removed, or left lying on the ground, the bundle is weakened.
However, when a stick is replaced, or added, that bundle becomes stronger, more solid. A strong bundle of rights is what the founding fathers of this nation envisioned for the United States. Were they perfect in their vision? Of course not, and presuming that they should be so is pure, unadulterated ignorance of the human condition. If you are seeking perfection, you will be seeking forever. Especially if what you are seeking involves the endeavors of man.
No, what the constitution does is recognize the existence of rights, while broadly restricting the behavior of government (with one exception) from restricting certain of those rights. The constitution and the bill of rights are restrictive, not permissive. I.e., the first amendment: congress shall make no law…, the second amendment: …shall not be infringed…, the sad and lonely third amendment: no soldier shall…, the fourth: shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue… and so on.
That said – the idea that “the constitution doesn’t say anything about marriage” is utterly and completely wrong-headed. Such position presumes that the constitution is a listing of any and all possible rights that a person may have. It is not. Let me say that again, the Constitution of the United States, the Bill of Rights and the several amendments to the Constitution is not a menu of rights allowed to the people. It is a mandate to the government restricting its powers to remove a stick from the bundle. That is all.
The 14th amendment, in part says; “no state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
This amendment, meant to protect a certain class of persons who had been abused since the imperfect beginning of this nation from laws designed to discriminate against them, has been applied this week to laws that were designed to discriminate against another class of person who has been traditionally discriminated against.
Some of the demagogues, and their ill-informed followers, have bemoaned the creation of a new right for this class of people. Nevertheless, they are wrong. There was no new right created, that right had always existed, laying disused outside the bundle of stick where it belonged, except for the bigoted and hateful interpretation of the demagogues. This stick, intentionally, and with malice aforethought, left lying on the ground by people who preach hate, ignorance and division was merely picked up off the ground by the Supreme Court, shown to us, and placed in the bundle of rights that all American citizens have the right to enjoy. Thus, today the bundle and the country is stronger for it.
It is time for all good Americans to stand up to the forces of hate, fear, and ignorance within our own country. Tell them that no, this is not the darkest hour, this is the shedding of the light of freedom into a dark place and therein we found a rainbow for all good people to enjoy.