“The State… both in its genesis and by its primary intention is purely anti-social. It is not based on the idea of natural rights, but on the idea that the individual has no rights except those that the State may provisionally grant him.”
– Albert Jay Nock: “Our Enemy, the State”
I’m sure by now people have heard of the whole Kim Davis debacle. For those who haven’t, Kim Davis is a county clerk in the state of Kentucky who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. A federal judge ordered her to do so, citing the Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell vs Hodges. When Davis refused, the judge had her jailed- without any sort trial, (which is technically a violation of the 7th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution) for being in “contempt of court”. Davis maintains that she was/is doing her job and following a “moral obligation”. Much has obviously been made about Ms. Davis’ “fundamentalist” Christian religious leanings, and those on “the right” assert her “right” to religious observance, and her “right” to, what some, including most notably Pope Francis have called “conscientious objection”.
As a side note, while America was playing “political football” with gay marriage YET AGAIN, much more pressing matters were unfolding on both the national as well as the international scene. The strong emotional nature of “love and marriage” bypasses the logic and rational centers of the critical mind, and is used to sucker us in like a worm on a hook. Funny thing is that it seems to work EVERY SINGLE TIME, as the gay marriage issue is continually used as a smokescreen to distract us from more pressing issues that effect ALL OF US. But anyhow, back to the issue at hand
I’ve noticed in this whole debate, what is not really being talked about is the nature of the Supreme Court that is supposed to “interpret” the Constitution and the whole idea of marriage being a “legal institution” to be licensed and regulated by the State. When the Supreme Court of the United States made its decision in the Obergefell vs. Hodges case, on June 26th of this year, it was gleefully declared that the SCOTUS had “legalized gay marriage”, and the White House lit up like a rainbow. The problem with this perception is that the Judicial Branch doesn’t make laws, it only interprets them. Legislative power is supposed to be in the hands of the Legislative Branch, i.e. Congress.
Of course, people with some understanding of the process, know what happened was that the SCOTUS declared that according to the latest interpretation of the 14th Amendment, the Constitution requires a State to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-State. The much-debated 14th 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.”
One of the criticisms of the 14th Amendment, which was not ratified until the end of the Civil War, is that it took power from the individual states and centralized it into the Federal Government. The Civil War was really about the Federal Government wanting to assert power over the States, not slavery (Abraham Lincoln didn’t really care that much for the black slaves and had actually planned on deporting them before he was assassinated). It is argued that the 14th Amendment essentially gave the Federal Government powers that the original framers of the Constitution had not intended and is in direct contention with the 10th Amendment.
The 10th Amendment states that any powers not given to the Legislative or Executive Branches are “reserved to the States respectively, or to the people”. The 10th Amendment is part of what is known as “The Bill of Rights”, which are the first 10 Amendments of the Constitution. It should also be noted that Section 5 of Article 14 (the 14th Amendment) states “Congress (not the Supreme Court) shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate LEGISLATION, the provisions of this article.”
There is not a word spoken in regards to marriage in the text of the Constitution, and the only time there was any legislation passed by Congress in regards to marriage was with The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that President Clinton signed, and the Supreme Court later declared unconstitutional. Now, I’m no lawyer, but I can read, and it would appear that with the ruling on DOMA, according to the 10th Amendment, would give the authority of defining of marriage to the states, as no new legislation to regulate marriage was created, which seems to be technically required under the same 14th Amendment that SCOTUS is using to “dictate law” (what does a “dictator” do?). This being said, Kentucky does in fact define marriage in its own state constitution as being “between a man and woman”. So if we interpret the Constitution this way, Kim Davis was in fact doing her job.
Of course interpreting the Constitution is the job of the SCOTUS, which has throughout its illustrious history declared numerous laws and ordinances to be “Constitutional” only to later turn around and deem them “un-Constitutional”, or vice-versa. This is what happens when you give an unelected body absolute power to interpret the law in whatever way it sees fit at the time. In his book, “The Court and the Constitution”, now-deceased lawyer, law professor and special prosecutor during the Watergate Scandal, Archibald Cox gave the following insight into America’s Judicial Branch:
“No country has given its courts such extraordinary power. Not Britain, where an act of Parliament binds the courts. Not India… or Ireland, where the power of judicial review is established but exercised on a narrower scale. The President is elected. State legislators and Governors are elected. Supreme Court Justices are not elected: they are appointed for life.”
This power given to the SCOTUS to interpret the Constitution in whatever way they see fit at the time makes the law arbitrary to the point of being meaningless at best and tyrannical at worst. As has been demonstrated time and again, the SCOTUS essentially interprets the law in a manner that is politically beneficial at the moment. This “dictatorship of the court” is one of the primary reasons why so many of the founders OPPOSED the adoption of the Constitution in place of the Articles of Confederation. One of those founders was Patrick Henry (“Give me liberty, or give me death”) who gravely stated in his speech at the Virginia ratifying assembly:
Another thing to be considered in this whole discussion is that at the time of the passing of the 14th Amendment, the institution of marriage was not a considered a “legal” institution in the United States. At that time, marriage was not something that was under the jurisdiction of government, but that of religion, as it was the pastor, priest, rabbi, medicine man, etc. that typically married people in the United States and it was the religious institution that performed the ceremony that declared the marriage as sanctified. Neither local, state or federal government had any jurisdiction or say over the institution of marriage, as it was seen as strictly a “spiritual union”, which would have kept it free from government encroachment under the 1st Amendment of the Constitution which states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;”
While marriage registration was practiced strictly for purposes of population census, actual government licensing and regulation of marriage did not take place until the early 20th century when laws prohibiting mixed-race marriages and marriage of those deemed “unfit” were put into place. By the 1920s, 38 states prohibited whites from marrying Japanese, Chinese, Indians, blacks, “mulattos,” “Mongolians,” “Malays” or Filipinos. Twelve states would not issue a marriage license if one partner was an addict, a drunk or a “mental defect.” Eighteen states set barriers to post-divorce remarriage.
Of course, these laws against interracial marriage, etc. were eventually found unconstitutional. However, now the government regulation and licensing of marriage continued to be justified due to the Social Security Act providing survivors’ benefits with proof of marriage. Employers also use marital status to determine whether they would provide health insurance or pension benefits to employees’ dependents. Courts and hospitals required a marriage license before granting couples the privilege of inheriting from each other or receiving medical information.
Again, most of these things have been “proven” both legal and illegal, or “Constitutional” or “un-Constitutional” by the Supreme Court as well as the multitude of smaller court systems throughout the United States. This again shows that “law”, far from being the “unbendable law of the land”, is completely arbitrary and will be interpreted by those in power to whatever way suits their interests at the time, regardless of what sentences say or what words actually mean.
Besides, if words on a legal document go against one’s desired actions, one just changes what those words and sentences mean. For example, in years past, the Trans-Pacific Partnership would have been considered a treaty, and thus subject to a long Congressional procedure in order to be ratified. However, if we simply refer to it as an “Agreement”, then the process of pushing it through Congress is shortened significantly, thus making it more likely to pass without too much trouble. If we are in positions of power and cultural influence, we can change language to suit the needs of the times and the general public will tend to parrot whatever memes and buzzwords the media and academic institutions that we who are in power control, tell them to.
So with that, I am done talking about the SCOTUS, the Constitution and the history of marriage as a legal entity in the U.S. because I think I’ve illustrated my point, which is this: man-made “law” is a fabricated illusion that only has meaning because one group says it does and another group believes it. So the question I’m going to throw out there now is do we feel the same way about marriage too? Is marriage also just a fabricated illusion that only has meaning because someone says it does and someone else believes it? I’m sure plenty of people would say yes and plenty of people would say no, and a few people might be unsure either way.
The reason I am playing “devil’s advocate” here is because I am wondering why people who are so bubbly and romantic about “love and marriage” and so high-minded and vehemently passionate and emotional about “freedom to love”, seem to take no issue with the fact that government has complete control over marriage in the first place. If any of you who are reading this fall into the above classification, I want to ask you, is it because deep down you see love and marriage as no more “real” than government and law, or is it because you believe in the power of government just as much as you believe in the power of love and the “sanctity” of marriage. Honestly think about that for a moment, and if you answered “yes”, or even “maybe” to either one of those questions, think about it some more.
I know, I get it, “that’s just the way it is.” But isn’t it somewhat of a sad state of affairs to have Marriage; a sacred institution supposedly rooted in Love and the Noble Virtue of Fidelity; completely subservient to government and economics. This fight over marriage is in large part about being able to claim financial benefits and assets that the all-powerful State “decrees” legally-recognized spouses are entitled to. This is literally putting a price on Love, showing what we value more, which ironically, cheapens it. This is agreeing to give the State power so we can get money.
Of course there are also the issues surrounding end-of-life care and hospital visitation “rights”, etc., but why should the State or any other institution have these powers either? Does anyone else see something wrong with this? This fight isn’t about “love”, it’s about groveling to the State for recognition, further re-affirming its power and dominance over our lives. It is yet another re-affirmation of the idea that the State can grant “rights” by decree or dictate. And what the State has the power to give, it will also reserve the power to take away.
Personally, I have had mixed feelings around marriage for most of my life- most of them negative due to a family history of failed marriages and divorce. That being said, I have also had the privilege to see some wonderful, loving, long-lasting marriages of people very close to me. I am engaged myself, and although it has been a rough road at times, I love my fiancée very much and she is my best friend. As I continue to grow into deeper understanding of the nature of Spirit, I continue to grow into deeper understanding of the nature of Love and relationships. And while this understanding continues to grow, there are two things I am fairly certain of:
First, is that marriage in its ideal form is first and foremost a spiritual union that is rooted in the Divine Union of masculine and feminine polarities (notice I did not say man and woman). My teacher and mentor, Reverend Matthias taught me that in the Mystical Marriage, the masculine and feminine come to one another with the Divine Source as the mediator, transmuting their individual energies into their purest form as they engage and interact with one another. In its ideal form, marriage, as well as sexual union, is one of the deepest forms of Alchemy one can partake in. In the union of man and woman, the most Divine Expression is of course, the creation of new life- a “Divine Child”. Obviously, those of same-sex relations cannot produce a physical child, but I dare say that if the partners approach one another through the Divine Channel, a spiritual product of Divine Union can potentially be created through all forms of union, creating a “Child of Aether/Spirit”- a psychic, energetic and spiritual product of the perfection of their union.
The second thing that I am certain of is that given what I just described about the mystical nature of marriage as well as that of Love in general, it is absurd beyond words that it should be lorded over by any institution that is primarily based in control and fear, which are energies that are by order of magnitude, much lower in vibration than Love or Virtue. As I stated earlier, government and human law is for all intents and purposes an illusion. Love is real. Government is not. Letting the State rule over Marriage is a symbol of the dominance that we have given money and materialism over Love and Virtues of a Higher Nature- both in our society and in our own minds.
In closing, I am going to leave you all with what might be my favorite human origin myth, taken from Plato’s, “Symposium: The Myth of Aristophanes” c. 400 BC. I find it both strange and beautiful. I hope you all enjoy it:
“A long time ago, there were three kinds of human beings: male, descended from the sun; female, descended from the earth; and androgynous, with both male and female elements, descended from the moon. Each human being was completely round, with four arms and four legs, two identical faces on opposite sides of a head with four ears, and all else to match. They walked both forwards and backwards and ran by turning cartwheels on their eight limbs, moving in circles like their parents the planets.
As they were powerful and unruly and threatening to scale the heavens, Zeus (the king of the gods) devised to cut them into two ‘like a sorb-apple which is halved for pickling,’ and even threatened to cut them into two again, so that they might hop on one leg. Apollo (the god of light) then turned their heads to make them face towards their wound, pulled their skin around to cover up the wound, and tied it together at the navel like a purse. He made sure to leave a few wrinkles on what became known as the abdomen so that they might be reminded of their punishment.
After that, human beings longed for their other half so much that they searched for it all over and, when they found it, wrapped themselves around it very tightly and did not let go. As a result, they started dying from hunger and self-neglect, and Zeus took pity on them, and moved their genitals to the front so that those who were previously androgynous could procreate, and those who were previously male could obtain satisfaction and move on.
This is the origin of our desire for other human beings; those of us who desire members of the opposite sex were previously androgynous, whereas men who desire men and women who desire women were previously male or female. When we find our other half, we are ‘lost in an amazement of love and friendship and intimacy’ that cannot be accounted for by a simple desire for sex, but rather by a desire to be whole again and restored to our original nature. Our greatest wish, if we could have it, would then be for Hephaestus (the god of fire) to melt us into one another so that our souls could be at one, and share in a common fate.”
Namaste and God Bless.