My turn: Every citizen has a right to the pursuit of happiness

Posted: Monday, May 14, 2007

This is in response to the May 8th My Turn article by Michael Shakespeare.

Sound off on the important issues at

First, I want to say that marriage itself is not under attack. Marriage is just fine. The marriage amendment, on the other hand, shouldn't exist. Who are you to say who another person should love and want to take care of? Who do you think you are? You are not special, you are not superior, you are not better, but it seems you like to think so. And that is the truth behind this entire argument. Obviously you forgot the rules about treating other people the way you want to be treated yourself. If you think it is a good idea to keep others from enjoying the same rights that you enjoy just because they are different, the name for you is bigot.

Secondly, I am tired of hearing about "activist judges." Oh sure, it sounds impressive, and makes great rhetoric, but that's all it is. This is how it works. The judges' job is to decide on arguments about how laws are applied, the meaning of laws, and if they are constitutional. That is because the courts have this authority called "judicial review." The definition of judicial review is "The power of a court to judge the constitutionality of the laws of a government or the acts of a government official." This was taken from the government reference guide "Ben's Guide," which is sited below.

It goes on to state, "judicial review puts the Supreme Court in an important role in the American political system. It is the referee in disputes among various branches of the federal, as well as state governments, and is the ultimate authority for the most important issues in the country. For example, in 1954, the Court decision in Brown versus Board of Education banned racial segregation in public schools. The ruling started a long process of desegregating schools and other institutions."

Those justices are not being "activist," they are doing exactly what they are supposed to do, while the legislature pushes the 'values' of the majority, the courts protect the minority from the majority - and that is exactly what they have done in the case of benefits for same-sex couples. Just because a lot of people don't like something doesn't mean it shouldn't happen.

If it weren't for the courts, the schools in the south would probably still be segregated because the majority certainly didn't have the best interests of the minority in mind then, and some still don't now. Those people only had their own interests in mind, like the people in Alaska who oppose same-sex benefits and marriage. They are interested in feeling like they are better, more worthy of special rights and benefits, than those fellow Alaskans who have different looking families from their own.

Now I know that some will say, "You can't compare the desegregation of public schools to the ban on same-sex marriage," but I say yes I can. A person has as much choice in their sexuality as they do in their gender or ethnic background. It is wrong to not allow someone the same rights that others have because of something as intrinsic as gender, race or being gay. Every citizen of this country has a right to the pursuit of happiness. There is no exception to that, no clause that says "except gay people." By not allowing some people the right to marry, you are infringing on their right to pursue happiness. Since they are not allowed to marry, they should have some alternative so they can have similar rights and benefits in taking care of their families. The constitution is not supposed to allow special privileges for any select group, everyone is equal. Or should be, and over time those existing inequalities are slowly being corrected.

Your opinions are not better just because you're white, you should not be promoted to the best jobs just because you're male, and you should not get special benefits for your spouse just because you're heterosexual.

• Amber Beck is a Juneau resident.

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