Saturday, July 17, 2004

Thune Misleads South Dakota

John Thune's latest actions suggest that he cares more about supporting the partisan agenda of right-wing Washington extremists than about issues that actually affect South Dakotans.

The Republican candidate for Senate has launched an alarmingly disingenuous smear campaign denouncing Senator Tom Daschle as an "obstructionist" for his refusal to support the radical "Federal Marriage Amendment." Rather than appealing to the hopes and aspirations of his South Dakotan constituency, Thune is desperately trying to plant the seeds of irrational fear in the blind hope that such unseemly tactics will draw supporters away from his popular opponent. Such transparently negative campaign tactics are rarely successful.

If one bothers to look past the smokescreen of fear that Thune has so cynically deployed, one will most likely see that not one person in South Dakota has been harmed by the (resounding and well-deserved) defeat of the Federal Marriage Amendment, and that our nation as a whole has greatly benefited from its defeat. Do any married couples genuinely believe that their relationship is on the verge of collapse because some people of the same gender have chosen to make a lifelong commitment to each other? If John Thune genuinely respected the sanctity of marriage, he would not make such absurd claims for political gain.

Of course, if John Thune was truly the voice of mainstream Republican values that he claims to be, he would have voted against the Amendment, too. Arizona's Senator John McCain, one of the most respected voices in the Republican party, explained that "The constitutional amendment we're debating today strikes me as antithetical in every way to the core philosophy of Republicans." The Senator added that the Federal Marriage Amendment "usurps from the states a fundamental authority they have always possessed and imposes a federal remedy for a problem that most states do not believe confronts them."

You don't see that quote on John Thune's website, but you would if he had any interest in being honest with the people of South Dakota.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find it quite amusing that John Thune is attacking Senator Daschle on this point when any citizen with even a modicum of intelligence could tell you that amending the Constitution to restrict the rights of Americans is abhorrent at best. So-called "activist" judges are not seeking to re-interpret the definition of marriage, it has primarily and will always primarily be defined as simply as love. Should a government have jurisdiction over that? Certainly not. Should a government be able to define it in separate civil terms in order to bestow legal rights as a basis for inheritance, medical care, power of attorney? Yes.

In the coming weeks, we will see proposals such as the Marriage Protection Act, which seek to offset our fine system of checks and balances by disallowing review of the 1996 DMA in federal courts, including the Supreme Court. When we take the supposed source of the FMA and MPA into account, we must again question the constitutionality of such laws. Many lawmakers and citizens are adamant in their beliefs that marriage is between a man and a woman, because that is what they have been taught growing up and witnessed in ceremonies. The underlying reinforcement of this social construct comes from religion or the church, which brings First Amendment rights into question. Should Congress enact legislation barring same-sex marriage if the members' primary motivation for doing so is their religious upbringing? Certainly not.


July 19, 2004 at 1:07 PM  
Blogger Douglas said...

Religions and government and all citizens of the US have benefited from the idea of separation of church and state. The GOP attempt to amend the constitution with a marriage clause aimed at sanctifying "religious marriage" runs counter to centuries of US tradition and constitutional history.

The GOP attempt to exploit marriage for narrow partisan purposes by adding the equivalent of a municipal ordinace to the constitution is a radical departure from common sense and tradition.

Howard Dean and others have suggested that the states provide licenses of "civil unions" of various varieties and leave the marriage ritual to churches or other organizations that wish to further sanctify such relationships. Of course, taking this approach dilutes the GOP hotbutton, emotional issue and converts it from a partisan tool to a sensible middle position which has little further benefit to the GOP in separating the electorate into irrationally hostile groups for narrow partisan advantage.

July 19, 2004 at 6:21 PM  
Blogger Jeremy said...

The wall of separation which many people believe was included in our Constitution has never existed in that document and was only constitutionally actualized in a large part by the 1947 Supreme Court case of Emerson v. Board of Education. While I agree that both religion and government have been allowed to hold onto much of their “purity” by not intermingling completely, much has also been gained from lawmakers relying upon their religious convictions to assist in decision-making processes. However, when these convictions prompt lawmakers to write precepts which translate anachronistic views into law, we are walking a delicate path upon very thin ice. The United States Constitution is a living document, which can and has evolved over time to meet the needs of an ever changing world and I believe that the Bible is as well; both have underlying fundementals which will never change, but seek to guide us in our journeys so that we make the right decision when the time comes.

Unfortunately, many of the GOP leaders do not seem to possess the providence which would have prevented them from turning a highly personal and therefore divisive issue into a tool used for political gain which has thereby marred the worlds of government and religion. While it is certainly possible to push citizens to vote for or against a certain candidate based upon an issue such as this by using their developing religious, not spiritual, beliefs, it is assuredly far more immoral than the action which they attach that oft-used word to in their attempts secure four more years in Washington.

July 20, 2004 at 10:57 AM  
Blogger Peter Curtis said...

While it's absolutely correct that "separation of church and state" is never mentioned in the Constitution, that observation ignores a critical point: the Establishment Clause.

The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." This clause does not mention a separation of church and state, but it seems reasonable to infer that such a seperation is required in order for the government to be in accordance with the First Amendment.

When the government is enacting public policy based on religious ideals (such as particular interpretations of the social and moral value of marriage), the government has undeniably "established" religion within our code of laws. Such a policy would be unconstitutional under the current wording of the First Amendment.

July 20, 2004 at 12:06 PM  
Blogger Jeremy said...

I agree that the Establishment clause should prevent Congress from passing legislation such as the FPA, but by enacting the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act and thereby ensuring that no state "be required to give effect to a law of any other State with respect to a same-sex" marriage, lawmakers have already done harm to the Full Faith and Credit Clause as listed in Section one of Article four in the Constitution (although in all probability it would technically fall under the public policy exemption, though I have my doubts as to whether or not it would hold up in the Supreme Court).

In other words, if there were enough public support behind the issue, as unconstitutional as it is, lawmakers may make a grave mistake despite the chance of legal challenges if it means that they would be re-elected. If the issue continues without being reframed and thereby defused, it may stand a chance of passing and this is simply something that we cannot conscionably allow to occur. I have long been a proponent of civil unions and the dissolution of the term “marriage” within the legal realm simply because so many people have adjoined marriage and religion so closely that it has become nearly impossible to detach the former from the latter for a large part of the citizenry.

July 20, 2004 at 4:31 PM  
Blogger Douglas said...

This written by Jeremy is worth seeing again. He has the gist in a concise form:
I have long been a proponent of civil unions and the dissolution of the term “marriage” within the legal realm simply because so many people have adjoined marriage and religion so closely that it has become nearly impossible to detach the former from the latter for a large part of the citizenry.I would like to note also that I used a phrase something like "The idea of separation of church and state" and did not indicate it was actually an explicit part of the written words of the constitution. However, our modern interpretations of the constitution don't view it as a pristine document just written by the founders. College constitutional issues courses are filled with court citations.

The Constitution is a living document and as such has been amazingly versatile. The current GOP attempt to add a municipal ordinance to the Constitution runs counter to the strengths of the Constitution and is really a very radical approach. An approach very contradictory to Thune and Bush bumper stickers I saw today which include the phrase "Freedom First". Looking at the pickup it was on, I suspect the only freedom that dude had in mind was the amendment he believes allows every gunnut to carry his own howitzer and 50 Caliber rifle or machine gun.

July 20, 2004 at 4:46 PM  
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