Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Dehumanizing Marriage

Anytime a basic civil right, an inalienable right, whether enumerated in the U.S. Constitutional documents or not, is violated by a government, that government is dehumanized, the citizens participating in that government are dehumanized, and, of course, those having their constitutional liberties abridged are dehumanized. Consider the cases in Nazi Germany in which Jews were made to wear a yellow Star of David. The Nazi’s ignored the basic and self-evident equality among ethnicities in order to single Jews out as less human, deprived of the dignity of equality. The most devious of the Nazi aims, however, had to do with dehumanizing the populace of Germany itself. By refusing to stand up for their fellow humans, the people of German civil society became callus towards the Jews. Ultimately, the Nazi’s themselves became more and more unfeeling towards human life and the plight of their fellow man. Of course the dehumanization of the German Jew was exponentially quickened because essential religious freedom to worship was likewise stigmatized. Two sets of essential civil liberties were abridged by the Nazis at once. Yet, could the Jews have claimed to have been harmed by wearing the yellow star of David? Shouldn’t they have been proud of their religious background? The wearing of the star was the first of a continuing series of Nazi violations of civil liberties, but the dehumanization of the Jew was already complete before the clear harm began. This prima facia violation of human rights was the harm.

Likewise, no matter how one wants to interpret the odd wording of the 2nd amendment of the United States Constitution, humans in a state of nature, without government, have the right to take up arms and defend themselves. Although the choice is intimidating to some, it must be; for that is the essence of self defense. The right to defend oneself is a severe right that elevates all human life by its severity. The choice to bear arms or not to bear arms defines human character, but it is still a fundamental free choice, a liberty that is part of being human. Although, as the U. S. Supreme Court found, to protect the general welfare and to secure the blessings of all our liberties, the state, as authorized by the people, has the right to limit the liberty to bear arms, court or no court, court or no court the right to self defense must not be compromised.

The District of Columbia completely abridged the right to bear arms and the right of self defense thereby. Law abiding citizens, then, are completely reduced to dependency on government for their defense. They become no more than serfs of the Dark Ages dependent on their feudal lords for defense. They become the chattel of the state, the property of the state. Their humanity is compromised. The state too is dehumanized, for it becomes like a feudal lord, above those whom it exists solely to serve. Yet, how are those that were refused the right to bear arms for many years in DC harmed? There is only slight evidence of that harm. The NRA often points to the rise in violent crime in areas in which the right to bear arms is constrained severely. This may be simply the obvious result of the criminals being emboldened by an unarmed populace. However, it may be that the dehumanizing effects of the abridgement of the right to bear arms emboldens those who contemplate violence.

How do these tests of the abridgement of constitutional liberties relate to the recent ban on marriage in California? In both of these instances, laws abridging human rights have plainly existed without any clear harm initially being found. Both instances are also examples of the truth that any abridgement of a civil liberty dehumanizes the state and its citizens. In California there are no more marriages. Men and women cannot receive a marriage license that says “husband” and “wife”; instead, they become “Party A” and “Party B.” This language is plainly dehumanizing, and it is not the happenstance of nomenclature. The ruling of the Supreme Court of California and its accompanying opinion wreaks with violations of civil liberties and a callus, inhuman refusal to acknowledge the very essence of what it means for a man and woman to join in matrimony.

California’s Court has reduced marriage to only that over which the state has authority. It has looked at all the clothing of marriage and called these changing incidentals ‘marriage’; but the Court has ruled to ignore that unchanging reality of marriage that forms the basis of marriage as a constitutional liberty. In every case, a constitutional liberty is such because its reality is greater than man; its power is independent of governments. It is because of such fundamental liberties’ superiority and priority to government that good governments reside in harmony with these native, inborn rights natural to humanity. Good government perceives that these greater, natural, freedoms are the very blessings of liberty that governments exist, solely, to secure. Marriage is such a liberty because it is more than contracts and commitments conferred by the state. The duties of marriage proceed from the joining in marriage, not from government. This joining for which men and woman were designed (whether by natural selection of by the hand of the God of Nature Himself), this is the very essence of marriage the State refuses to acknowledge. Refusing the title of “husband” and “wife” is not the happenstance of nomenclature; it is evidence that the State of California refuses to acknowledge the essence of marriage, the joining in marriage, that is central to marriage as a constitutional liberty.

Because the state of California, through the voice of its Supreme Pontiffs, manifestly recognizes only those social rights involved in marriage, and because the essence of my marriage, my ‘right to marry,’ to join with my partner as husband and wife, is no longer recognized by California law, my constitutional right to marry is completely abridged. It is in the essence of humanity, male and female, to be able to freely join in marriage. California has a right to regulate marriage, even as the District of Columbia has a right to regulate the right to bear arms, but California does not have the right to legislate marriage out of existence, to deny its reality, and to ignore its core humanity. To designate marriage as a simple set of rights society chooses by tradition to assign dehumanizes us all.

2 comments:

Transplanted Lawyer said...

I don't dispute that the use of "Party A" and "Party B" is clinical, cold, and not well-suited to a joyous occasion such as a marriage. But I don't see that the language used on the license matters in the way that you do.

paulbenedict said...

Here is spooky little comment from the court:

"We have no occasion in this case to determine whether the state constitutional right to marry necessarily affords all couples the constitutional right to require the state to designate their official family relationship a “marriage,” or whether, as the Attorney General suggests, the Legislature would not violate a couple’s constitutional right to marry if — perhaps in order to emphasize and clarify that this civil institution is distinct from the religious institution of marriage — it were to assign a name other than marriage as the official designation of the family relationship for all couples. The current California statutes, of course, do not assign a name other than marriage for all couples, but instead reserve exclusively to opposite-sex couples the traditional designation of marriage, and assign a different designation — domestic partnership — to the only official family relationship available to same-sex couples." (p. 80-81).

Here the court openly expresses its desire that marriage will not be marriage any longer. It is not just the nomenclature. It is not just happenstance. There are other deeper elements of this ruling (that I haven't quite pinned down yet) that dehumanize because they abridge the right to marry.