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Ben Carson - On the Issues, Part VI - Marriage Equality

Ben CarsonThis entry is part of a series looking at Ben Carson's stance on political issues. For this series, I'm mostly looking at the issues identified on Carson's own website in the section, Ben on the Issues. I figured that was a good way to pick the issues he himself found most important to discuss, without anyone being able to accuse me of cherry-picking Carson's worst stances. An index of all the issues can be found on the first post in the series, Ben Carson - On the Issues, Part I.

This entry, the last of the series, addresses Carson's stance on marriage equality. This wasn't covered on Carson's website, but I consider it a very important contemporary topic, so I figured it was worth discussing.

There's a group called the National Organization for Marriage. Much like other misleadingly named groups like the American Family Association, they're not really in support of marriage as a whole, but in only one narrowly defined definition, trying to restrict the rights of gay people from being able to marry. They have a marriage pledge that they've asked presidential candidates to sign, and Carson is one of the candidates who's signed it.

Here are the first and second positions from the pledge.

One, support a federal constitutional amendment that protects marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

Two, oppose and work to overturn any Supreme Court decision that illegitimately finds a constitutional "right" to the redefinition of marriage. This includes nominating to the U.S. Supreme Court and federal bench judges who are committed to restraint and applying the original meaning of the Constitution, and appointing an attorney general similarly committed.

I wrote about marriage equality years ago when I was still a Christian, in Legality of Homosexual Marriage. I cringe now at some of the things I wrote, but even back then, I recognized that it was not the government's place to try to legislate morality, nor to impose sectarian religious definitions of marriage on the American people as a whole. I even specifically addressed the possibility of a Constitutional amendment, since then president Bush had recently raised the issue.

The amendments in the Bill of Rights were passed to protect people's personal freedoms. All of the subsequent amendments to the Constitution, except for one, have been passed to give additional rights and freedoms, or as changes to the structure of the government. The exception, the 18th Amendment, Prohibition, was repealed [13] years later by the 21st amendment because it didn't work. The Constitution should not be used to take away freedom, it should be used to guarantee rights. If a constitutional amendment is going to be passed regarding gay marriage, it should only be used to protect it, not to make it illegal.

Thankfully, per the recent Supreme Court decision, the Court's interpretation of the 14th Amendment does guarantee that right to all people, heterosexual and homosexual alike, so an amendment guaranteeing people's freedom to marry is unnecessary. But people like Ben Carson and this National Organization for Marriage want to pass a new Constitutional amendment and fight against this recent ruling, all to deny a fundamental right to people. That's simply horrendous.

At a recent rally, Carson briefly discussed issues related to marriage equality. You can listen to these remarks yourself on MSNBC, Ben Carson speaks out on Kim Davis controversy, starting at about 42 seconds in, but I've done my best to transcribe his remarks below.

One of the things that came up this week of course, Miss Davis, down in Kentucky, who had to go to jail which was I think inappropriate. There were other things that could have been done. That was probably not the right one. Because the Supreme Court had not overstepped its boundaries and done what they did at the time that she took that job. So the circumstances changed. And all she was asking is that her name not be put on the documents. She was not trying to obstruct anybody from doing anything other than that.

I've already discussed Kim Davis in the appropriately titled entry, A Few Thoughts on Kim Davis. Davis was refusing to do her job as an elected official, plain and simple. Public officials don't get to choose to enforce only the laws that were in effect at the time they started working. Just imagine if police officers attempted similar justifications. If, after the Supreme Court decision, Davis felt that she could no longer perform her duties, then she should have resigned (had she been a normal employee and not elected, she could have simply been fired).

The federal judge in this case, David Bunning, gave Davis plenty of opportunity to comply with the ruling before jailing her. To quote a Washington Post article, Kim Davis is off to jail for refusing to do her job, he even offered her a last minute deal "to 'purge' her contempt of court by allowing her deputies to sign same-sex marriage licenses in her place." She refused the offer (at least before going to jail). It was her refusal to comply with court rulings, and the fact that she blocked any compromises that would have allowed others in the office to issue marriage licenses, that got her thrown in jail for contempt of court. And frankly, when a person tries to use their government position to impose their own personal religious convictions and oppress other citizens, I don't feel much sympathy for that person spending a few days in jail.

I also take issue with Carson's wording of the Supreme Court 'overstepping' its boundaries. This type of interpretation is exactly what the Supreme Court is supposed to do. Congress and Senate pass laws, but if those laws violate the Constitution, then it's up to the Supreme Court to strike those laws down. It doesn't even matter if the laws were passed by a public referendum and have majority public support - laws that violate the Constitution are still illegal. In this case, the Court found that these laws violated the 14th Amendment, and ruled accordingly. If Carson and his ilk don't like this ruling, they should be (and like I wrote above, they are) trying to pass a new Amendment to overturn the 14th and restrict people's rights. But when he talks about the Supreme court 'overstepping' its boundaries simply for doing its job, it doesn't leave me very impressed with his understanding of civics.

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So, that wraps up this series. I've learned my lesson, though, and won't say this is the last time I'll discuss Carson. If he stays high in the polls, I'm sure I'll be motivated to write more about him. Someone with views and positions as bad as Carson's deserves to have those positions called out.

Image Source for Ben Carson: Christian Post, Credit: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

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