Marriage, Equality and the Constitution

by Mark  

Blame it on what seems to be a recurring bronchial infection wreaking havoc with my mind and body for my thoughts turning today with questions and pondering marriage, equality and the Constitution.

As my brain has been churning, I have begun to wonder if both proponents and opponents of providing equality to same-gender couples for legal recognition of their relationships with the wrong lens.

Is the real issue whether the government - state or federal - may have any say or may provide any benefits to any couples and which of those couples who commit to one another may receive legal recognition?

Opponents of same-gender equality cite religious beliefs for opposition to conferring legal recognition to same-gender couples. Opponents note that marriage is a religious sacrament or at least a religious ceremony.

If indeed marriage is religious in nature, should this be an alarm sounding that the "Establishment Clause" of the 1st Amendment to the Constitution is being violated?

Opponents cite biblical grounds for keeping legal recognition limited to one man and one woman. Opponents cite "Christian" principles to deny equality to same-gender couples.

But, there is the rub.

Not all Christian denominations, churches, sects, organizations define or translate the Bible the same way - even when it comes to same-gender couples. Some churches now solemnize same-gender unions and even allow gays and lesbians to fill the pulpit.

That automatically pits conflicting positions among those of the Christian persuasion.

Again the wire is tripped on a possible violation of the "Establishment Clause".

Which Christian belief is marriage or denial of equality to same-gender couples based?

For government to intervene and choose one over the other is a clear violation of the Clause.

Then you have other religions which may or may not also see marriage as something holy.

If the marriage laws are based on a certain Christian belief, does this not give preference to that belief over the beliefs of other religions and thus unconstitutional under the Clause?

What about those with no religious persuasion or no belief in a higher power?

Should those without religion be subjected by the government to a Christian sacrament in order to receive legal recognition of their commitment to one another?

This again would have red flags flying.

Is not the correct constitutional path for government, both state and federal, to remove any and all laws providing for legal recognition to committed couples from the books?

Is not the correct constitutionally mandated course of action to provide no tax breaks, tax deductions or treat any taxpayer differently based on whether the couple has gone through a religious ceremony determined to be the belief of a specific sect of Christianity?

As one CNN iReporter, Democritic, has pointed out many times that he, as a single man, is being discriminated against by the tax laws.

Should not all taxpayers be treated with equality?

To maintain constitutional muster, should not the states and the federal government be instructed that all laws on marriage or recognition of married couples with special benefits not afforded single taxpayers be scrapped?

Maybe it is the infection.

Maybe it is the meds.

From the Cornfield, jumbled thoughts passing through this fevered brain this last day of July make life interesting if not delusional at times.

Selective Concern for Life?

by Mark  

Do we in the US of A, world leaders, people scattered across the globe take a selective concern for which lives matter and which lives are not worth considering?

I recently wrote, The World Is Burning, in which I noted that there are wars, rumors of war, threats of war spreading throughout the world.

These "hot spots" seem to be on three continents: Africa, Asia and Europe. But these places, any of these locations, could draw others into the conflict from every continent, including North America and the US.

Does the loss of life, especially civilian casualties, matter more depending on who those casualties are and in what conflict the casualties are occurring?

Here is a list of the death toll (most of whom have been killed were civilians) of major troubled areas or conflicts reflecting mankinds inhumanity to humanity.

Tell me which lives matter more, if any.

These are the numbers from the current flare-ups, not including past battles or wars.

Israel-Gaza: Over 1,300 dead
Ukraine-Russia: Over 1,100 dead
Iraq-Islamic State: Over 5,500 dead
Afghanistan: Nearly 25,000 dead
South Sudan: Over 10,000 dead
Nigeria: Over 1,000 dead
Libya: Over 500 dead
Syria: Over 160,000 dead

Yet from the focus of the United Nations, from most media, we would think there are only two primary conflicts where life matters.

Do we have a selective concern for life?

From the Cornfield, if God knows and is touched by the death of one, small sparrow, how can we turn our eyes to what is a human failure that strikes no matter the locality, the ethnicity, the nation, the geographic boundaries?

Then here in the US of A, in some of our urban areas, the death toll is as shocking and as disconcerting. Yet again, because these are urban areas, we tend to have selective concern for life.

The Spin - Defies Logic?

by Mark  

To the terrorist organization Hamas and its sympathizers, Israel is to blame for the use of tunnels from Gaza to sneak into the Jewish State to raid, kill and kidnap Israelis.

The Israelis are to blame for using tunnels to smuggle in armaments and missiles to fire into Israel.

If Israel would simply open the border, demilitarize the area, there would be no reason or use for the tunnels.

In other words, the terrorists would then be free to walk across the border, kill and kidnap Israelis without having to resort to building tunnels.

There would then be no need to smuggle weapons and bombs into Gaza by tunnel if Israel would stop its barricade and allow free movement of weapons of mass destruction.

The reason civilians are being killed is Israel trying to root out Hamas and other jihadists. Hamas and jihadists have no choice, but to store weapons in United Nations facilities and to hide out in the civilian population since Israel is hellbent on defending itself from attacks.

If Israel would stand down, no civilians would be killed. Hamas, along with other jihadists, would not have to use civilians as shields to protect themselves.

Ignore that the only successful outcome called for by Hamas is the total annihilation of the nation of Israel. It is Israel's fault for existing.

From the Cornfield, I am sorry. This defies all logic.

Yes, I lament the loss of life by both sides. I lament the tragedy of civilians being used as pawns and fodder to be cut down like hay.

But let's be real.

Put the blame where it belongs.

Optics Matter

by Mark  

While the world is burning, President Barack Obama seems to be dancing. He is not slowing down his golf games or his fundraisers.

Today, the President is off to California for more fundraisers and partisan politicking.

While there is nothing wrong with either activity, in times of multiple crises - optics matter.

The pictures being seen give an appearance that the President is not in tune with what is happening. The optics show a President more intent on partisan dabbling rather than a display of a world leader in the midst of battle.

Optics matter.

The story is not new.

Recently when again optics mattered, the President declined to go to our southern border to view the humanitarian crisis of nearly 60,000 children crossing into our country. The President opted to be seen out at the bars in Denver, shooting pool and drinking beer.

Optics matter.

The world, nay the US of A, is crying out for a leader. The world looks at American television or newspapers and see not a leader, but a man too busy to care.

Optics matter.

This does not mean that the President is not on top of the situations going on, but the visuals give a different impression.

Today when the first bodies of those passengers slain on Malaysian Flight 17 were returned to The Netherlands, where was the President or Vice President Joe Biden or Secretary of State John Kerry?

True, only one passenger with dual Dutch citizenship was an American, but does not the White House realize and understand the signal that would be beamed to the world, to Russia, if the US of A was seen standing in solidarity with the king, the queen, the Dutch people, as those bodies were returned?

It is the visual which has the strongest immediate effect and provides the most stimuli. It is not what is heard nor read which can inflame the emotions as much as what we see.

For a President, who has never been shy of a photo op, suddenly, when it matters - the President doesn't want to be seen in a "photo op" as he said recently about the border crisis.

It is not, Mr. President, what you say, your Secretaries or your ambassadors say which has the most impact as much as what image you send to the world.

Optics matter.

From the Cornfield, when will this Administration begin using some wisdom and realize there are photo ops and then there are photo ops?

It is time to realize how you look to the world and Americans determines how the world and Americans perceive you, Mr. President.

To be thought of as a leader, a strong leader, a world leader - you must be SEEN as that image.

Optics matter.

Lead-Up to Entanglement?

by Mark  

As I sat, listened and watched US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power address the UN Security Council the other day charging that Russia and Russian-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine were responsible for the horrendous shooting down of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, killing 298 people, I was struck with an eerie feeling that I had heard this or something similar before.

From the remarks of some members of Congress from both sides of the aisle, there is a familiarity in those comments. Vice President Joe Biden, never one to shy from speaking his mind, seems to be talking in an uncanny manner of a former sitting vice president. The voice of Secretary of State John Kerry echos in tone and manner one I have heard before from a previous secretary of state.

The press conferences of the White House and press releases have a strange resemblance to those I have heard and read before. Even the call to unite and hold accountable the perpetrators of the shooting down of Flight 17 by President Barack Obama stir memories of the call to arms of a former president.

Difference is that this time around, the President is waning in popularity both at home and in stature around the world. This time around the majority in Congress are reluctant to do more. This time around the majority of the public is skeptical and reluctant for the US to do anything, but bring the troops home.

A recent poll conducted prior to the shooting down of Flight 17 had 67% of Americans saying the nation should limited its action to those that are clearly a threat to national security. Only 22% of Americans see the US as a moral leader in the world. On Ukraine 17% want more US involvement to stop the aggression of Russia and its President, Vladimir Putin. The right amount of involvement is what 33% thought about US efforts in Ukraine. Another 34% thought the US should curtail what efforts it was making in Ukraine.

Of course this was prior to the tragic, deadly flight. Those numbers always change after an incident such as this. But will the numbers swing like a pendulum or be more incremental this time around?

Maybe it is just me. But there is a aura of deja vu to all of this happening over the last few days.

From the Cornfield, as I sit here this afternoon, my concern is that perhaps once more we are in a lead-up to entanglement.

What has come out of this seems to be a meeting of minds from both Republicans and Democrats calling for the need for a leader on the world stage - a leader both sides say should be the President.

The world is also looking for a leader - but, this time the world seems to be looking elsewhere to an Angela Merkel in Germany or a David Cameron in Great Britain.

Now is not the time to reassess. As people from both political parties are saying, now is the time to be firm, to stand tall, to not equivocate.

I agree there is a need for more backbone and less quibbling when our bluff is called. But, I do not want us in another entanglement which never truly benefits us.

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