The passing of proposition 8 and its ilk elsewhere has a lot of people down. A friend via her Facebook status, “thinks you shouldn’t be able to vote away civil rights.” Amen to that…got me thinking.
We have an Equal Protection Clause, but no Equal Rights Clause under the US Constitution yet. Which means that a majority vote in a state or local election can infringe upon the so-called “unalienable rights” of a minority. That isn’t democracy — that’s tyranny.
There is a long-standing fundamental legal precedent against arbitrary acts — exclusion, separation, service refusal. In the case of Proposition 8, we have the arbitrary exclusion of civil rights. And through this, the arbitrary separation of the US population into two Constitutional groupings: those that have the full protection of their rights guaranteed under the US Constitution, and those whom we have arbitrarily stripped of at least some of their Constitutional Rights. This trend is a slippery slot which sets two dangerous precedents:
- Gays may be stripped of further rights if Proposition 8 is upheld. Certainly, if they shouldn’t be allowed to marry, they also shouldn’t be allowed to…(insert act here)…for similar reasons.
- Every other minority group may be arbitrarily stripped of certain (arbitrary) rights. It reminds me of that poem…
What interest would a white hetero majority have in securing the passage of a Constitutional Amendment creating an Equal Rights Clause? The answer is apparent when we recognize that the majority is as fragile as it is shallow: most every citizen of the US is the member of a minority or otherwise relatively powerless group with respect to the various aspects that comprise our identity: age, ability, class, education, ethnicity, gender, handedness, health, language, race, religion (or lack thereof), sex, sexual orientation, etc.
I would propose that, under the article seven of the [Universal] Declaration of Human Rights, and, the 14th amendment of the US constitution, we could feasibly amend or revise our constitution and add a clause that states amendments and revisions of the constitution(s), laws, and rights must be applied equally and uniformly for all US citizens, with reasonable regulations and restrictions, as already stated in our constitution.
In other words, the amendment would strike a “balance between preserving and insuring civil rights sans drawn out court cases for every individual civil rights issue” on the one hand “without negating the constituency’s right to vote on and decide issues and matters of importance, on a state level” on the other hand. It could fit directly into the pre-existing Equal Protections Clause under the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution, as protection against the arbitrary exclusion of any person(s) or groups from the basic human and civil rights guaranteed to all humans (under international law) and US citizens (under US law). I believe framing in this manner would also achieve US recognition of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on a constitutional level without jeopardizing US domestic sovereignty.
On a more hopeful note, perhaps people already can’t simply vote away civil rights in California — despite what the election results may tell us.