“Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
Up until a couple of years ago I was completely oblivious to politics. When I was a child, I grew up watching Reagan on the television talk, seemingly, without the slightest thought of what was coming out of his own mouth. My mother, being rather cynical, taught me to believe that it didn’t matter who you voted for, it all turned out the same. And as most children do, I filled my head with lots of other things. Then there was 9/11, and everyone, even from the furthest corners of the country, even those with no family involved, felt a tremor blast through their heart and their sense of reality. But even that didn’t do enough to awaken me to politics.
Then, in 2003, when Colin Powell and Dick Cheney and various other members of the Bush administration came forward with “evidence” to justify the invasion of Iraq, I watched for moments and changed the channel. Later on, when we actually went to war, I was surprised and a little worried, but I figured it was being done for the ultimate good. I, like so many other people, had way too many other things going on in my life to pay attention to these important things. I don’t suppose I have to tell most of you what came about to change my thinking. Within a year or so, we were all hearing the piles and piles of stories on violence in Iraq and the mounting death tolls on both sides. When our president would speak, everything he said came out as catch phrases and high school cheers, with no real validity, coherence, or basis in reality. After witnessing all that was going on, it became a chore to ignore the state of things. That’s when I woke up to the realities of our current situation and our responsibilities as citizens of a free nation.
What does this have to do with the Fourteenth Amendment? It really comes down to people, the people of this nation that are referred to by every article and amendment of our Constitution. Thomas Jefferson, our third president and one of the founding fathers of our nation, said, “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.” In being passive and neglecting my own knowledge of current events, and the evidence and lack thereof used to support this war, and many other political things that have occurred in my lifetime, I have failed as a citizen. We all who have done so little to educate and update ourselves and dig deeper into the facts have failed our country! We, the people, are to blame for our country’s behavior as a direct result of our ignorance.
It didn’t just start with this war. We have already been, for years, failing our founding father’s glorious idea for a truly free nation. We are a nation who has forgotten about the Fourteenth Amendment. When the time came for slavery to end - far too late as it should have never started - Lincoln went as far as to go to war to bring the people closer toward to a truly free nation. Upon freeing the slaves, there were many slave owners who oppressed the newly freed citizens and did their best to ignore their freedom. In the most daring move toward a free nation, the Fourteenth Amendment was drafted to help prevent the oppression of former slaves and any other, for the time being, male citizen of this nation. It was the biggest step toward equal civil rights any nation or group of people had ever drafted or invoked.
Of course, years later when women were finally given the right to vote and be equal, our dream of equal civil rights became complete, or so it seemed. So we were taught in school, anyway. Once again, to quote Thomas Jefferson, “All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression.” What Jefferson knew, that most people do not, was that our country can’t function on majority rule alone. When majority rule stands alone, it breeds a mob mentality. Majority rule must be accompanied by reason and protection of equal rights for all citizens. The majority should not be able to vote against a minority’s constitutionally given rights, due to protections that were written as law in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution.
With this in mind, we can come to the recent fight over marriage. There seems to be a struggle suddenly to give a new definition to marriage. A definition based on the majority and excluding the possibility of the rights of a certain minority. A definition based on religious belief, which our separation of church and state is supposed to protect us from. A definition that has been suggested to go into our Constitution, a document of freedom. However, marriage already has a definition. It is the joining of two people as one. It is not our governments privilege to give a discriminating definition to any civil right granted to us all by the Constitution.
Regardless of your religious belief, is marriage not one of those rights? Right now, there are people in the free United States of America dealing with suppression of one of the most simple civil rights. In about a dozen states there is a ban on same sex marriage. If we are to truly accept the Constitution of the United States as law, why are states allowed to ban such marriages? Is it necessary to make such a thing as a civil union and segregate it from marriage? Why should such a trivial word as marriage even need to be written down in the Constitution? Why after all these years are we still limiting who is free in our nation?
“All persons born or naturalized in the United States”
“No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States”
“…nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
The language is clear.
If we continue to be ignorant of the suppression of rights to any group of citizens in our nation for any reason we are not only allowing discrimination in our laws but we are taking a first step in the opposite direction of a free nation. We are walking toward tyranny. But we, as a free nation, do not have to let this happen.
We have the right to free speech to try our best to awaken each other to reality. You can do this by writing about it on your blog, mentioning it to friends, putting it on a website, writing about it in any situation where it will be read, or by expressing it through the arts. We also have the ability to contact the representatives that we have elected. Right now you can write to your congressperson or write to your senators about this issue. You can write to them and tell them it’s time to give us all equal freedom.