Sen. Dan Soucek, R-Watauga, believes that the North Carolina constitution should enshrine "correct moral standards."
That's what he told a crowd of more than 3,000 people who rallied in Raleigh on Tuesday. Soucek sponsored a bill that would put a constitutional question on November's ballot: Should "marriage between a man and a woman [be] the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized"?
Soucek is wrong on two counts.
First, the constitution should enshrine the precious rights of the people of North Carolina.
Those broadly stated rights allow us to uphold the more narrow moral standards we deem correct, most of which are described in state statutes. But Soucek and his supporters believe that same-sex unions, presently outlawed by state statute, are reprehensible.
Their devotion to what they frame as a religious principle so thoroughly outweighs their devotion to the principles of democracy that they want to change the nature of the state constitution -- from enumerating rights to enumerating actions the state will not tolerate.
This brings us to Soucek's second error: He is wrong on principle.
The government's proper sphere is to create and uphold a system of laws that applies to all of its subjects.
Marriage is a religious sacrament, but for the state's purposes, it is shorthand for a contract that describes the rights and responsibilities of the parties involved.
When the state gets involved, it is a fundamental question of civil, not moral, rights.
The state prohibits minors and the mentally deficient from entering into contracts, but consenting adults have broad rights to enter agreements with others -- from cell phone contracts to mortgages.The government has no proper role in prohibiting two consenting adults of the same sex from entering into a contractual relationship enjoyed by other adults. In the case of marriage, where the responsibilities come paired with rights like inheritance, shared insurance and child custody, the state has an even greater responsibility to ensure fair access.
We have great confidence that, if a constitutional ban on marriage appears on November's ballot, North Carolinians of conscience will vote it down.
It's a shame that there may not be enough of them in the legislature.
Sunday, May 22, 2011
Dan Soucek, More Wrong than RIGHT
Editorial in the Durham Herald-Sun: