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November 15, 2004 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-11-15

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4A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, November 15, 2004

OPINION

I

+ +71 U 420 MAYNARD STREET
ANN ARBOR, Ml 48109
tothedaily@michigandaily.com

EDITED AND MANAGED BY
STUDENTS AT THE
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
SINCE 1890

JORDAN SCHRADER
Editor in Chief
JASON Z. PESICK
Editorial Page Editor

Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of the majority
of the Daily's editorial board. All other pieces do not
necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.

NOTABLE
QUOTABLE
They were
disheartening to a lot
of different people."
- Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-
Tenn.), responding to comments made by
Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) suggesting that
pro-life Supreme Court nominees would
have a difficult time being confirmed by the
Senate Judiciary Committee, as reported
yesterday by the Associated Press.

Ic e

I

SAM BUTLER THE Scvx

An open letter to moral detractors
D.C. LEE Bh.i k'.K ['N : AND N)PEARLS

ii

wo weeks ago on
Nov. 2, 11 states
amended their
constitutions and denied
marriage rights to same-
sex couples. That same
day, Americans cited
moral values as the most
important election issue
and re-elected a presi-
dent who says Jesus Christ has been the
most influential figure in his life. If ever
there were any doubt, let it be resolved now
that there is none: morality and politics
have officially mixed, and most Americans
don't have a problem with it.
Others, though, are troubled by the
fusion of moral values and politics. Lib-
eral commentators across the country are
bemoaning morality's place in American
politics. Their argument is that moral-
ity has no place in politics because of its
intrinsic basis in religion. Our founding
fathers, these commentators continue,
made this explicit with the separation of
church and state.
If you read slate.com, watch CNN, or lis-
ten to National Public Radio, you've prob-
ably heard something along these lines
before. Unfortunately, for all its zip as a
sound bite, it lacks substance.
The First Amendment provides that
"Congress shall make no law respecting an
establishment of religion, or prohibiting the
free exercise thereof ... " But if you didn't
actually read the text of the First Amend-
ment, and instead relied on liberal com-
mentators for your constitutional analysis,
you'd think the First Amendment explicitly

limits the state's use of moral values to
shape legislation. And, of course, you'd be
wrong.
The Establishment Clause ("respecting
an establishment of religion") prevents the
government from endorsing or support-
ing religion. The Free Exercise Clause
("prohibiting the free exercise thereof")
prevents the government from outlawing
or substantially burdening the exercise
of religious practices. The "separation of
church and state," which is nowhere to be
found in the Constitution, and which was
first used in a letter by Thomas Jefferson
to assuage Baptist fears that Congregation-
alism would become the national religion,
does not explicitly address the issue of
morality in politics. If anything, Jeffer-
son's letter reinforces the notion that the
Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses
specifically address religion's place in the
American political landscape, not moral-
ity's.
Of course, it would be naive to suggest
that there is no connection between moral-
ity and religion. As the liberal commenta-
tors note, morality has an intrinsic basis in
religion. But to suggest that all morality is
based on religion and should therefore be
struck from political discourse (morality
has no place in politics) is to distort reality.
The overlap between moral values and reli-
gion, despite assertions to the contrary, is
not complete. The reality is probably more
like a Venn diagram than a complete over-
lay. Some moral values are deeply rooted in
religion, while others are not. To suggest,
as these commentators appear to do, that
morality has no place in politics is to accept

the false premise that all moral values are
religious.
But, even if we assume that the liberal
commentators are right - that moral-
ity has no place in politics - are we to
believe they favor the unqualified disman-
tling of government assistance programs?
You'd be hard pressed to find someone
who would argue that welfare is not based
at least in part on our moral conviction
that the state should help those in need.
Similarly, you'd be hard pressed to find
someone who failed to see the correlation
between the values underlying govern-
ment assistance programs and the Judeo-
Christian value of charity.
Thus, because there is no real separa-
tion of church and state issue, and because
it is unlikely that moral detractors would
favor the dismantling of government assis-
tance programs, there must be some way of
explaining these detractors' dissent. The
most obvious, and likely, answer is not that
they really have a problem with moral val-
ues in politics; rather, they have a problem
with my moral values in politics. That my
moral values happen to be correlated with
the church's thus makes the church an easy
scapegoat.
The church, however, is not the prob-
lem. The real problem is the detractors'
unwillingness to believe that what gets
bandied about in New York and Holly-
wood doesn't pass for moral values in fly-
over America - where the election was
ultimately decided.
Lee can be reached
at leedc@umich.edu.

4

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Letter writer proposes
new group to protect the
sanctity of marriage
TO THE DAILY:
I am writing to expand on Jordan Genso's
letter ('Marriage' is a heterosexual tradition
that should be preserved for heterosexuals,
11/12/04). I think it's great that the word
"marriage" has special significance for
Genso; it means a lot to me too. In fact, I
am so pro-marriage that I would like to
announce the formation of the American
Marriage Is Sacred Committee.
The platform of AMIS will be to pursue the
protection of marriage on several levels. First
and foremost, we would like to constitution-
ally ban divorce. Divorce is the number one
marriage destroyer in this country and must be
stopped. Secondly, we would like to penalize
those who get married but do not have chil-
dren. Getting married is about starting a fam-
ily - if there are no kids, what is the point?
Why should the government reward these
people, it is a loophole that must be closed.
Therefore we propose an amendment whereby
those marriages that produce no children after
a reasonable amount of time will be dissolved
by the government. We at AMIS also believe
in the traditional family structure with a man
earning a living while the woman tends to the
home and children, so we would also like to
relegate women to the home with passage of an
amendment that bans women from the work-
place. I'm sure that anyone who believes in tra-
ditional family values will have no problems
supporting these measures. After all, a non-
traditional marriage is no marriage at all.
As a bonus for Genso, for being so eloquent
in his defense of Proposal 2, we here at AMIS
will also pursue a constitutional amendment
to ban white people from using the word "nig-
ger." We are AMIS!
Arthur Feldman
Rackham
Comparison of gay
marriage to use of 'N-
word' inappropriate

to the quest of whites to use the "N" word, I
would argue as follows.
In striking down state bans on interracial
marriage, the U.S. Supreme Court declared
in 1967 that "The freedom to marry has long
been recognized as one of the vital personal
rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happi-
ness by free men."
I will concede that giving gays the right to
marry will in fact change the institution of
marriage in the minds of many, in the same
way that giving interracial couples those
same rights did. Sixteen states banned inter-
racial marriage throughout the 20th century.
Alabama's constitutional ban on interracial
marriage was not repealed until the 2000
election, with 40 percent of voters voting to
keep the ban in place. I guess they too felt that
changing the institution of marriage would
be, as Genso writes, "disrespecting their
community". This is discrimination. This is
hate, regardless of intent.
People need to stop comparing gays look-
ing for the right to marry to whites' use of the
"N" word and high-income families' desire for
a flat tax (Gay marriage opponents made reason-
able choice, 11/09/04) and start comparing it
to interracial couples looking for the right to
marry or women looking for the right to vote.
Redefining an institution to include a minor-
ity group does not hurt or threaten that institu-
tion.
Finally, in response to Genso's feeling that
he had to vote for Proposal 2 in order to make
sure that marriage didn't change, despite his
endorsement of civil unions, I would like to
point out that Proposal 2 was written by and
placed on the ballot by groups opposing civil
unions for gays. This is why civil unions were
explicitly grouped with marriage in a single
ballot proposal - so that more progressive
people like Genso, who might support civil
unions, would not only vote to ban marriage,
but vote to ban civil unions as well. The
grouping was not an effect of "the homosexu-
al community trying to take your word." You
were duped, and others will continue to suffer
because of it.
Adam Herscher
LSA senior
.I *fn 1T. ,. .

obstacle to a just solution, and would only
lead to negotiations over the creation of a
Palestinian state on a mere 40 percent of
the West Bank and not the full West Bank.
The recent appointment of Mahmoud Abbas
as chairman of the Palestinian Liberation
Organization, seen as a "pragmatist" by
many Israeli and American officials for his
willingness to engage the Road Map, will
not be capable of maintaining legitimacy
in the face of the grim crumbs of autonomy
that the Road Map grants the Palestinians.
It is important at this stage in their strug-
gle for national freedom that the Palestin-
ian leadership maintain a unified front of
resistance to the occupation and reject the
tired notion that it is really terrorism that
is the fundamental obstacle to peace and
not Israel's occupation of Palestinian land,
because it is the latter that is the direct
cause of the former. The message should
be clear: If you want to end terrorism, you
must end the occupation. Furthermore, it
is important that the activist community at
the University's rally around the issue of
the University's divestment with compa-
nies like Caterpillar, which sells Israel the
very bulldozers it uses to raze Palestinian
homes and uproot their agriculture, and as
such only contribute to the deterioration of
the possibilities for a just solution to the
Palestinian-Israeli crisis.
Tarek Dika
LSA senior
The letter writer is a vice chair of Students
Allied for Freedom and Equality
LETTERS POLICY
The Michigan Daily welcomes
letters from all of its readers. Letters from
University students, faculty, staff and
administrators will be given priority over
others. Letters should include the writer's
name, college and school year or other
University affiliation. The Daily will not
print any letter containing statements that
cannot be verified.
Letters should be kept to approxi-
mately 300 words. The Michigan Daily
reserves the right to edit for length, clar-

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