Equal Rights Clause?

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Fortunately, someone else has written a wonderful post making the case for an Equal Rights Clause.  Here’s the thesis:

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.


2 Responses to Equal Rights Clause?

  1. Anok says:

    Wow, thank you for the kind words and recognition! I’m really happy to see that I’m not the only person on the planet that feels it’s odd that we have equal rights, but no way to guarantee them.

    Thanks again!

  2. The U.S. government crossed a VERY serious line with PROP 8.

    This “proposition” threatened children’s sense of safety and belongingness in California. Children’s safety.

    Regardless of THIS particular fight, there are way too many fights on way too many fronts for us to conquer piecemeal. The Time is Now – DRAW A NEW LINE in the sand and demand from President Obama and our representatives FULL EQUALITY.

    Equality Is Simple When You Simply Include Everybody.

    What? Not detailed enough for the lawyers?

    OK, we can list repealing DOMA, repealing DADT, include transgender in the ENDA Bill, allow adoption of abandoned children, equality in immigration
    issues, recognize our hate crimes as such, equal family/children rights……….whew! See what I mean?

    We are EQUAL SOULS in HUMAN BODIES. Could we please STOP discriminating due to the genitalia attached? Plumbing will determine each civil right?! Any separation from the pack is ultimately due to gender (and/or gender roles & stereotyping), and that is SEXISM. I cannot marry Bob
    because I am the “wrong” gender; if I were a woman I could marry Bob. SEXISM.

    And I cannot stress ENOUGH how my own suffering from Marriage Inequality is NOT the reason for wanting or needing equality. I am not something to focus on. But my story, and the stories of countless other Americans desperately need to be addressed in this civil rights struggle. Marriage laws

    were put in place many years ago in order to PROTECT individuals and their FAMILIES; if they were NOT necessary they would not exist (for heterosexuals). When these laws are NOT in place for ALL OF US, horrible, horrible suffering occurs. My WEBSITE has many examples.

    So Americans want to continue denying us what they have already deemed as essential. And many people want us to WAIT…2….5……10…….20……..30 YEARS, depending on the “civil right”, for what WAS and IS our birthright.

    I personally have a HUGE problem with that. I cannot wait. I will not wait.

    Will you join me on Wednesday, April 15th, 2009, and help me inform the government that WE are eager to be included in the federal tax base as

    soon as THEY include us in society’s laws? My 5-year-old students could understand this concept: EQUAL = EQUAL

    As Americans can’t we agree that there are MANY other important issues to address (like the Economy, Education, Health Care, Poverty & Homelessness, Iraq/Afghanistan…all of these are related), and solving THOSE problems is more urgent than having “Equality Issues” TIE UP THE

    COURTS for another 30+ years? We will NOT go away.

    You keep procreating; we keep popping out. Sorry.

    Our representatives have spent years inventing 4-letter words (DOMA, DADT) to restrict us, deny us, demoralize us, and harm our beloved families and children. Enough is enough.


    The National Equality Tax Protest
    – Wednesday, April 15th, 2009 –

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