Friday, August 12, 2011

Rick Santorum - Marriage Equality Is Equal To Slavery

Republican Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum is on a role. Not only has he used the lackluster comparison of napkins and paper towels as a justification to denying gay couples marriage rights, but he is now comparing the 10th amendments guarantee that a state can enact marriage equality if it wants too, to states having the authority to legalize slavery. 


In an op-ed on his website, Santorum draws attention to the Lincoln-Douglas debates of the late 1850's. These debates centered around the Kansas-Nebraska Act, a bill introduced into the U.S. Senate by  Illinois Senator Steven Douglas, which would repeal the Missouri Compromise - which banned slavery in any newly acquired territory north of the 36°30' parallel - and instead allow the residents of the territories to decide for themselves whether or not they wanted legal slavery in their jurisdiction. 


Quoting Lincolns response to Douglas' bill, Santorum states,
"In Lincoln's time the political debate was over the foundationally immoral institution of slavery. Lincoln rightly criticized Stephen Douglas' "don't care" attitude about that great moral issue this way: "When Judge Douglas says that whoever or whatever community wants slaves, they have a right to have them, he is perfectly logical, if there is nothing wrong in the institution; but if you admit that it is wrong, he cannot logically say that anybody has a right to do wrong."
Unsurprisingly, Santorum is giving us a false moral equivalency. Though he might feel that  slavery and marriage equality are both moral wrongs, it is absurd (as well as downright offensive) to assert that the two issues are equal in their moral scope. To do so devalues the very real pain that those who were kept in bondage felt, as well as ties down marriage equality with one of the great moral stains upon this great nation. 


Why was slavery a moral wrong? Though there are many reasons why it was a terrible institution, one of the key reasons was because slavery is predicated on denying recognition of the humanity of  a certain class of human beings. The  inherent rights of man; that is, to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, were being denied by the institution to a certain segment of the population because of their skin color. The institution of slavery was used to take rights away and keep them away, rather than extend them. 


Marriage equality on the other hand, as many know, is not about denying anyone rights (even thought the Religious Right might whine about that) but is instead about extending rights. It is about recognizing the social/legal validity and inherent dignity of gay and lesbian relationships, rather than placing such relationships in an inferior legal and social status. The inherent rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are not being "trampled on" by marriage equality; in fact, they are being realized by extending marriage rights to same-sex couples.


But Santorum does not see this false equivalency. To him, granting someone a fundamental right - that is, the right to marry - is equal to allowing an African-American's fundamental rights to be stripped by being owned by a white man. To Santorum, even though the Republican party is predicated upon getting government out of the personal lives of its citizens and a deep seated respect for the 10th Amendment, his form of Republicanism asserts that some things MUST be legislated by the Government. And to him,  "Conservatives simply concede too much when they communicate that there exists some "right" to commit a great moral and civil wrong, and then leave it at that.  We must not give up our moral authority and say it is "fine" for a state legislature, or a court, or an executive, to redefine marriage in the name of states' rights or say it is none of our business.  As Thomas Jefferson said the people are free, and "inherently independent of all but moral law.""






1 comment:

  1. They are all anti-gay, they are trying anti-gay each other! http://www.goodasgay.com/2011/08/best-web-masters-presidential-race-2012.html

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