The Real Problem With the Federal Marriage Amendment
Two homosexual couples filed a civil suit in Orlando, Fla., on Monday, July 12, against the Orange County Clerk of the Court, Lydia Gardner, because she refused to issue them marriage licenses.
There are some very important peripheral facts of note regarding the this legal action. Among them is the law Ms. Gardner enforced, that can be changed by the elected Florida State Legislature, restricts marriage to heterosexual couples. Secondly, this is an election year and the four homosexuals seeking legal matrimony have every right to support the election of legislators who would work to change the law.
Since the law, written by a representative legislature, is being challenged in a court by a civil suit, the plaintiffs and their lawyer are assaulting the voting rights of citizens who have chosen, and will chose again in November, the legislature. It will be the judge who chooses to take the case, however, who will be violating not only his sworn duty to apply the laws authored by representative legislatures, but will be subjecting a public servant to a legal challenge for enforcing the law she swears to uphold as well. The opinion here is that such an assault on the rule of law in this country by a judge, sworn to uphold the law, is an impeachable offense that the Florida State Legislature has the duty to act upon.
Such a suggestion should be eagerly embraced by the Florida Legislature, which has Republican majorities in both houses, and the Republican governor, who just happens to be the brother of the President of the United States. This assumption is offered because the Republican Party has been very vocal about defending values and the family during this election year.
However, on the day that the legislative authority of the elected legislature was being challenged by a civil suit, Florida Republicans in elected state offices offered no defense of Ms. Gardner for upholding state law, the legislative process, or the role of the elections to influence public policy. They chose, instead, to hold their silence as Republicans in the US Senate conducted a debate over an amendment that threatens to bring the regulation of marriage under the authority of the federal government.
The silence of Florida Republicans over the civil suit against the Orange County Clerk of the Court, in deference of the US Senate debate over the Marriage Amendment, opens the door for more federal usurpation of the authority of states to check the power of the national government. More significantly, the election year ploy of the GOP is a direct assault against the very purpose of the US Constitution, which is to regulate the relations between the states – not the union between man and wife.
It is absurd to think that amending the Constitution is the only path open to Republicans to confront efforts to redefine the family and give legal protection for sexual activity (that is essentially the goal of those promoting the gay rights agenda). The GOP has party cells in every county in the nation. It holds legislative majorities in most states of the union as well as most of the governorships. It has broken fund raising records going into this election year, and in most media markets the GOP gets the support of more than 90 broadcast hours of conservative talk radio programming every week. It is not unreasonable to believe that these considerable political assets could be used to rally voters to elect state legislative officials who would protect traditional definitions of marriage.
Those assets could also prove to be very influential in helping to explain that judges, who refuse to apply laws written by the elected legislature, are actually assaulting voting rights and the principles of representative government. Articulating these points could help Republicans to build popular support for the impeachment of “activist judges” who decide according to fiat rather than in respect to laws restricting judicial power.
Over the past decade the GOP has had ample opportunity to make reasonable and defined steps to restore the constitutional order of American government. Had it taken those opportunities it would have helped to assure that the thoughts and convictions of reasonable people could properly influence public policy in all levels of government. At every turn Republicans have, instead, avoided the investigation of such principles to play upon the ignorance of the voting public – presumably to keep supportive voting blocks on their plantation. Those who are drawn to the concept of amending the constitution to protect marriage should consider themselves as something more than mindless pawns of support for incumbency and the concentration of political power.
There is no debate here that marriage and families are threatened by various political movements that assault moral traditions. They won’t be turned back, however, by shredding the principles that work to restrain the concentration of power. Just keep in mind that as state legislative influence over federal power diminishes, the general public will be left with nothing more than trust for the discretion of federal officials as the shield of its freedoms.
July 21, 2004
Since 1993 Bob Strodtbeck has been writing commentaries for The Apopka Chief, a news weekly circulated in a community ten miles north of Orlando. His analyses investigate a wide range of topics from what he calls a “Christian pragmatic” view – that is to say, he considers that human interactions are largely driven by the human instinct toward self-service, which is traditionally known as sin. This perspective has given Bob great liberty to criticize governmental officials from both parties upon the standards of constitutional laws they swear to uphold and review cultural and economic phenomena from moral standards defined in the Bible. Bob currently lives in Orlando with his bride Pam and children Charlotte and Richard. He may be reached for comment here.