What is it about unalienable rights that is so difficult to understand? I mean, it says right there in our nation's Declaration of Independence that "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness." This is foundational stuff, probably as close to an axiomatic statement of America's identity and reason for existence as we'll ever see. Yet the struggle to deny certain subsets of Americans their unalienable rights to "life, liberty and the pursuit of Happiness" has been an unfortunate and painful pattern in American history from day one.
Latest example? The lawsuit filed against South Dakota by six couples--led by Mrs. and Mrs. Nancy and Jennie Rosenbrahn of Rapid City--last Thursday seeking recognition by South Dakota of their same-sex marriages. The Rosenbrahn nuptials were recently performed in Minnesota and their marriage is deemed valid there. South Dakota--specifically a list of state and county officials who are named as defendants--will be represented in federal court by the state's Attorney General Marty Jackley. Jackley's task is unenviable, as he'll be the mouthpiece for an historically doomed mindset that is already being shredded by federal courts throughout the country.
That many don't like the notion of same-sex marriage because it conflicts with their religious beliefs seems to be the basis for most, perhaps all, of the hostility toward gay marriage in South Dakota. Last night Pastor (and State Representative) Steve Hickey even held a special prayer session at his Sioux Falls church, apparently hoping to invoke the power of prayer as an aid to South Dakota's effort to sustain its gay marriage ban. I guess I'm okay with that. What happens inside Hickey's church is the business of the church itself, though Hickey's status as an elected official merits some community interest, which is what made the anti-gay marriage prayer session newsworthy in the first place. I only wonder why these religious folks, who always seem to be firm in their belief that our country was founded on Judeo-Christian principles are so bent out of shape about people exercising their rights to "liberty and the pursuit of happiness." After all the founders of our country specifically noted that those rights are endowed by their Creator. And their Creator guarantees them access to happiness. It doesn't get much more Judeo-Christian than that--so I guess it comes down to deciding what "happiness" is.
Are we to believe that those who oppose same-sex marriage on religious grounds are the arbiters of what activities constitute "happiness?" Apparently they think they are. Unfortunately for them, it doesn't work that way. The Declaration of Independence doesn't qualify "happiness" as definable or restrictive, and nobody from the religious community has yet to come forward and demonstrate how same-sex marriages harm the community. Sorry folks, but the fact that you don't like something doesn't mean you're being harmed by it. And therein lies the fatal weakness in the state's defense, which I believe is what has caused these bans to get overturned almost routinely these days. The plaintiffs' insistence that there is effectively neither cost nor harm to the state is a compelling contention. From the plaintiff's complaint in the South Dakota proceeding comes this: The State will incur little to no burden in allowing same-sex couples to marry and in recognizing the lawful marriages of same-sex couples from other jurisdictions on the same terms as different-sex couples, while the hardship to Plaintiffs of being denied due process, equal protection, and privileges or immunities is severe, subjecting them to an irreparable denial of their constitutional rights. The balance of hardships thus tips strongly in favor of Plaintiffs [parag. 159].
Makes sense to me. Is there a lawyer reading this who'd care to comment and show me how this argument is flawed?