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Rand Paul, GOP senate candidate from Kentucky, says that a white lunch counter proprietor should have the guaranteed right of free speech at his own establishment. That free speech, according to the libertarian and Tea Party candidate Paul, can include refusal to serve blacks, or any other race, religion or creed, for that matter.
The U.S Congress diasgreed with thinking like Paul's back in the 1960's, eventually passing a law banning discrimination in public or private establishments.
But why didn't we just take a poll back in the 1960's asking citizens what their desire, their will, was on giving equal rights to black Americans? Why didn't we just have a state by state referendum back then? State referendums, like Missouri's Tuesday referendum against Obamacare, where the PEOPLE got to decide whether black Americans should be treated equally in the U.S.?
The answer is because America does not govern itself by majority rule. We govern ourselves according to our founding contract, the Constitution...and we do so through elected representatives.
I hear a lot of blather today from Villagers and conservatives about New York polling results indicating that New Yorkers want to prohibit Muslims from exercising their legal right to build an Islamic Center in Manhattan.
Thing is, basic rights....in this case the rights of Muslim U.S citizens.....are not subject to popular polling results.
Californians learned this lesson, again, yesterday.
A federal judge in California has ruled that Prop 8 -- the voter initiative that banned gay marriage -- is unconstitutional.
From Judge Vaughn Walker's decision:
Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license. Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples. Because California has no interest in discriminating against gay men and lesbians, and because Proposition 8 prevents California from fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal basis, the court concludes that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.
Proposition 8 passed by a majority vote of Californians in 2008. By a margin of 52.24% to 47.76%.
John McCain, then running for president, "released a statement of support for the proposed constitutional amendment." Former Speaker Newt Gingrich released a video in support. Both politicians said that the original California judicial ruling legalizing gay marriage in the state was "against the will of the people."
The Roman Catholic Church and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints were out front in raising money and making official church statements in support of, the now-ruled unconstitutional, Proposition 8.
What Californians, Catholics, or Mormons, or McCain, or Gingrich....or anybody, really......have to say about a rights issue....simply does not matter in America. Rights of minorities are guaranteed under the equal protection clause of the Constitution. Thus, those rights cannot be taken away by popular vote or polling results.
America did not take a poll.....didn't schedule a referendum....to finally end slavery. The same applies to a woman's right to vote.....and choose. The same is true of the desegregation of the military. White soldiers were asked whether they wanted to serve alongside blacks....and by a whopping margin opposed the idea back then. President Truman ordered the desegregation anyway because doing so honored the Constitution.
The rights of gay and lesbian Americans to marry should never have been put up to a popular vote in California.....or any other state.
Constitutional rights are not subject to popular voting numbers or the latest polling results. Passing a law whose sole purpose was to target specific Americans for discrimination.....was a despicable act in California.....anti-American, really.
Judge Walker's lengthy and detailed ruling, I predict, will find concurrence in the 9th District Court of Appeals. Then it will be off to the Four Horsemen of the Coming American Apocalypse plus Justice Kennedy.
The question when all the smoke clears.....will be....how will divisive and rights-denying conservatives deal with a ruling from the Supremes,...conservative Supremes to boot,.....which grants gay and lesbian Americans equal rights with heterosexual Americans?
Think they'll take a new poll?