Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Thoughts on Civil Rights

Our guest speaker today is Blaine, a great friend of mine...

Civil rights were brought about by many years of political battles. First, our country was founded on the civil right of freedom of religion. Then came woman's rights. And slowly racial rights. As well as a host of others. All of these things have something in common: they are inherent at birth. They are who you are. There is no reasonable way to change that. A woman or a black person are born that way and cannot change. Behaviors are not covered under civil rights. Even behavioral religious civil rights have their limits. For example, in the late 1800's, the LDS Church felt they had the right to practice polygamy (a behavior). The Supreme Court of the United States ruled that you may believe what you want as far as religion is concerned but may not DO or behave how you want. Even if your religion dictates it because they felt society was damaged by the behavior. Many black civil rights leaders who fought years ago to promote civil rights for blacks are angry that those involved in homosexual behavior are trying to use civil rights laws to promote their agenda. Civil rights leaders feel their work is diluted and actually damaged by equating a behavior (homosexual behavior) with a born trait (black skin). This is why so many involved with homosexual behavior try to say they were "born that way." If they can prove that, then civil rights may apply to them. Please read Sister Erin Eldridge's book "Born That Way?" (note the question mark in the title). She speaks from experience. She was an LDS lesbian who became involved in homosexual behavior as a teenager. She fought against the Church for many years trying to get gay marriage recognized. To make a long story short, she got professional treatment and worked with her bishop for several years. When I heard her speak she was married in the temple and seven months pregnant with her second child.

I personally respect a persons right to believe how or what they may but they may not always do what they want. Which brings me to another point: What is a right? Our founding fathers had specific ideas in mind when they established the Bill of Rights. A right was something that you could do without fear of legal consequence. However, rights are not absolute. Our Bill of Rights were things that people could do but government or society was not required to provide you with the means to practice that right. For example, you have freedom of speech but society and the government are not required to provide you with a radio station to exercise that right. You have freedom to bear arms but fellow citizens are not required to buy you a gun. You have freedom of religion but the nation is not required to build you a church. That's why medical care is not a right. Others would have to pay for you to receive it. That's why it's not in our Constitution. The same thing could be said of the government buying you a house.

Another aspect of rights is that they are limited. Your right to do something cannot limit someone else's right to do something or infringe on their "pursuit of happiness." For example, freedom of speech or the press is not absolute. Saying or printing things about an individual can result in slander or libel suits because one right was used which damaged the right of another. I may have the right to bear arms but I can't shoot up the side of your house and infringe on your property rights.

This is the case with the "right" to marry anyone - male or female. We believe doing so will harm our right to raise our children how we believe is the pursuit of happiness for us and them. Some may deny or not understand this but it is true. Also, if that right is given then that right could and will be used to damage our rights, specifically our religious rights with regard to marriage. this is a very brief look at rights and what they are. Certainly it gets a bit more complex than this but this is an important start.