The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America explicitly forbids state governments from passing laws or engaging in any other action to prevent any person from enjoying equal legal rights. The amendment states: “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.”
A coalition of members of the U.S. House of Representatives is seeking to unravel this constitutional amendment by passing laws that affirm the right of state governments to engage in acts of legal discrimination against large groups of people. That coalition is led by first-term Congressman Randy Weber.
Yesterday, Representative Weber introduced H.R. 3829, legislation that would grant to states the power to select which adult residents should be prevented from getting married. This anti-marriage discrimination could take place, under Weber’s legislation, on the basis of nothing more than membership in a particular group.
Under Randy Weber’s law, the state of Mississippi would have the power to pass laws prohibiting African-Americans from marrying European-Americans. The state of Oregon would gain the power to ban people from marrying members of different churches. The state of Arizona could make it against the law for consenting adults to get married without the permission of their families. The state of Vermont could prohibit Christians from getting married to anyone at all.
Randy Weber and his followers would force the federal government to defer to such acts of discrimination, rather than asserting the nationwide right under the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of equal protection for all people under the law. They would open the floodgates to a chaotic mishmash of discriminatory marriage laws across the United States, all because they’re hoping that a large number of states will take particular aim at one particular group of people they don’t like: Gays and lesbians.
Dismantling constitutional rights that protect all Americans endangers the rights of all – not just the particular group of people who Randy Weber and his allies seek to target. Congressman Weber isn’t perceptive enough to grasp that concept, however. He’s willing to sink the entire ship of state because he’s heard that someone let some gays and lesbians on board.