Legal and popular consensus in the United States is clearly moving in the direction of support for same-sex marriage. California is no longer the trendsetter. Other states are approving marriage equality. Today, the Iowa Supreme Court recognized the unconstitutionality of stopping people from marrying on the basis of sexuality discrimination, and struck down a law banning same-sex marriage. Yesterday, the Vermont House joined the Vermont Senate in legalizing same-sex marriage, with large margins.
Still, there are some Americans who cannot yet get their heads around the concept that when the Constitution guarantees equality under the law, that applies even to groups of people they don’t approve of. Among these people is Vermont Representative Sonny Audette, who voted against the equal marriage rights bill, but then apologized for doing so.
“I apologize for voting against this bill, but I’m sorry to say my religion will not let me,” said Audette. “I wish I could vote for it and I hope all works out for the best.”
What kind of lamebrained religion won’t allow people to do what they think is right? What kind of lamebrained politician chooses to belong to a religion that isn’t in accord with his or her values?
Regardless of the way that legislators’ beliefs about religion mix with their moral values, a vote against equal marriage rights isn’t the right thing to do. When people become legislators in the USA, their first duty is to act in accordance with the Constitution of the United States of America, and with the law. Personal values and religious beliefs can only be a factor within those parameters. Ignoring the constitutional rights of citizens because of personal beliefs isn’t an option.
For a legislator to ignore those rights because of the demands of a religious organization, when those demands don’t even fit the personal moral vision of the legislator, is not just unconstitutional. It’s incompetent.