I would like to ask these people who seek to apportion to us the rights they have always enjoyed whether they believed that the framers of the Declaration of Independence intended that liberty should be divided into installments doled out on a deferred-payment plan (Martin Luther King, Jr., Why We Can’t Wait, Mentor Books, 1964, p. 128).
It does seem that, for some, rights are doled out in installments, and only after numerous collection calls. “Payment due” notices are ignored for decades, even centuries, until the payer decides to pay up. Because no disfavored minority has been able to mark all accounts “paid in full,” they must continue their collection efforts.
“Aren’t the crumbs we’ve thrown their way enough?” the vexed debtors ask.
“[H]alf a loaf is no bread” (p. 32).
“Ingrates! Why are they always asking for more?”
If he is still saying, “Not enough,” it is because he does not feel that he should be expected to be grateful for the halting and inadequate attempts of his society to catch up with the basic rights he ought to have inherited automatically, centuries ago, by virtue of his membership in the human family and his American birthright (p. 32).
Basic rights are identified in the Declaration of Independence.
We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness—That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men
The 14th Amendment to the Constitution holds the same basic principles.
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.
If these truths are self-evident; if equal protection is a Constitutional guarantee, why did so many states enact marriage bans? Do they need a copy of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution?
Kentucky’s attorney general, Jack Conway, announced that he would not appeal the court ruling overturning the state’s marriage ban.
Tony Perkins was not pleased.
“Jack Conway took an oath to uphold the constitution and the laws of Kentucky, not undermine them through indifference driven by his personal ideology,” Perkins said. “Does Mr. Conway possess some mysterious knowledge and understanding that 75 percent of Kentucky voters who approved the marriage amendment don’t have?”
I guess Mr. Perkins, and the Kentucky voters who approved the marriage ban, do not have a copy of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution.
One does not need “mysterious knowledge and understanding”; everyone who has read the founding documents should understand why the hastily enacted marriage bans are crumbling all around them.
If “knowledge and understanding of U.S. history and government,” is a requirement for obtaining citizenship, shouldn’t lawmakers and citizens study our founding documents before enacting unconstitutional laws that will ultimately be overturned? Must disfavored citizens suffer on the long path to equality, when rights for others were secured once the ink on the Declaration and Constitution had dried hundreds of years ago?
In his opinion striking Texas’ marriage ban, Judge Garcia declared, “Equal treatment of all individuals under the law is not merely an aspiration—it is a constitutional mandate.”
Since “the Declaration of Independence was the promise; the Constitution was the fulfillment,” it’s time to pay up.