Saturday, Dec 15, 2018
 
search SGN
SERVING SEATTLE AND THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST FOR 37 YEARS!

click to visit advertiser's website


Javascript DHTML Drop Down Menu Powered by dhtml-menu-builder.com

Last Weeks Edition
   
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website




 
 

 

 

[Valid RSS]

click to go to advertisers website
to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 8, 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 6
Is the Constitution passé? In light of LGBT advances, perhaps it's time for a rethink
Section One
ALL STORIES
  next story
Is the Constitution passé? In light of LGBT advances, perhaps it's time for a rethink

by Abby Dees - SGN Contributing Writer

Despite my radical spirit, my committed feminism, and my deep distrust of old establishments, after I went to law school I became a fawning, dorky fan of the U.S. Constitution. It's normal for lawyers to do this. We see in the Constitution all this promise of equality and justice, even though we know all too well what a problematic document it is, and how bloody its failings have been. We will fight for it like rabid dogs.

I was, therefore, gobsmacked to hear esteemed constitutional law professor Michael Seidman calling it 'an ancient and outdated document' on CBS Sunday Morning last week. I almost threw my cereal at the TV. I refrained, and instead, continued to watch while suppressing a twitch. OK, he made some sense. His question was, why are we so beholden to a bunch of dead guys?

Come to think of it, is there really a good reason for the Electoral College or a two-year term for members of the House other than, 'because the it's in the Constitution'? Those provisions have given us Bush II and unending campaign robocalls. Seidman pointed to the gun-control debate to illustrate our misguided obsession with what people thought 200 years ago. Instead of discussing the role guns should play in our society today, we get bogged down in what the framers meant in 1790. One's opinion on the matter then becomes needlessly elevated to a litmus test about who's the most patriotic, all because of the Second Amendment, written back when guns coughed out a lead gumball. At this point, forget rational debate.

I can't really argue with him, but I'm not willing to concede so quickly, especially since this year promises to be a turning point in LGBT rights. There's no doubt that the Constitution got many things profoundly wrong - for example, the notorious provision that counted slaves as three-fifths a person, or the fact that only rich white men got to vote. Whoops.

WHAT THE FRAMERS KNEW
I also see in it, though, a good-faith attempt to be enlightened, to be better. The framers understood that it was inherently flawed and subject to the prejudices of the times. Thomas Jefferson probably embodied this contradiction as much as any of the founders: he was a seeker of truth, and also a slave owner. I make no excuses for this, but he was at least somewhat aware of his failings. He wrote, 'I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions, but laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. & We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.'

There is nowhere else in our legal canon such a document that allows for improvement to our collective wisdom or marks so well where we've been. The three-fifths provision still exists in the text of the constitution, but it has been superseded by the extraordinary historical moment of the 14th Amendment (1866), recognizing the equality of all American citizens. And we've bumped along toward full equality for women, despite the failure of the Equal Rights Amendment. The Supreme Court, as interpreter of our Constitution, has enshrined our biases, and then at other times, pushed us well out of our national comfort zone. In recent history, we only need look at the shameful Korematsu case of 1944 in which the internment of Japanese-Americans was held to be lawful. Then, just ten years later, the Court declared segregation on the basis of race to be unlawful in Brown v. Board of Education.

My point is, the Constitution isn't a crumbling piece of parchment. It is, like lawyers are fond of saying, a 'living document.' In that spirit, LGBT rights are poised to be the next logical step in its - and our - growth. I'm all for deleting the Electoral College text, and who cares about the 'framers' intent' if it can't guide us today. But I still have faith in the Constitution's unique power to urge us forward. Absent a better alternative, I'll keep it.

Abby Dees is a civil rights attorney-turned-author who has been in the LGBT rights trenches for 25+ years. She can be reached through her website: www.queerquestionsstraighttalk.com.

Tell a friend:

Share on Facebook  Share on Facebook

Post to MySpace!Share on MySpace!

    Share on Delicious

Share on StumbleUpon!

Pentagon announces plan to extend spousal benefits
------------------------------
Empress Nicole and the Court
------------------------------
Spreading the love - Freedom to Marry plans $2M campaign for 2013
------------------------------
Is the Constitution passé? In light of LGBT advances, perhaps it's time for a rethink
------------------------------
Coming out after 30 - 'Meet-up' group in Seattle offers community and support
------------------------------
Turning tragedy into triumph - Gay Kenyan gang-rape victim has a harrowing story to tell
------------------------------
Boy Scouts postpone decision on Gays
------------------------------
Rhode Island Bar Association endorses marriage equality
------------------------------
Marriage equality for Valentine's Day?
------------------------------
Minnesota governor calls for marriage equality
------------------------------
Gay Pride celebrated in India
------------------------------
UK House of Commons OKs marriage equality
------------------------------
France approves first part of marriage equality law
------------------------------
Jesse's Journal: A bitter Valentine
------------------------------
Porn: A force for equality?
------------------------------
Scruff is in, say majority of men
------------------------------
BREAKING NEWS
------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------
Amid Daily Struggles, Gay Rights Movement Embraces Watershed Moments
------------------------------
Indiana Students: No Gays at Prom
------------------------------
Gay marriage, turban-wearing Mountie nixed as images on new bills: documents
------------------------------
Equality Illinois gala attracts pols, celebrates
------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

click to visit advertiser's website

click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
Seattle Gay Blog post your own information on
the Seattle Gay Blog
 

gay news feeds gay news readers gay rss gay
http://sgn.org/rss.xml | what is RSS? | Add to Google use Google to set up your RSS feed
SGN Calendar For Mobile Phones http://sgn.org/rssCalendarMobile.xml
SGN Calendar http://sgn.org/rssCalendar.xml

Seattle Gay News - SGN
1605 12 Ave., Ste. 31
Seattle, WA 98122

Phone 206-324-4297
Fax 206-322-7188

email: sgn2@sgn.org
website suggestions: web@sgn.org

copyright Seattle Gay News - DigitalTeamWorks 2012

USA Gay News American News American Gay News USA American Gay News United States American Lesbian News USA American Lesbian News United States USA News
Pacific Northwest News in Seattle News in Washington State News