BY Frank McCandless
In American history the fifties were hallowed times. It was a time when white America deemed itself the savior of mankind, and commies hid behind every bush. The cornerstone of this era was the so called traditional family. The nucleus of this mythical family was based on marriage. There was dad who went to work every day and mom who stayed home taking care of the kids. Everyone had their role, their place. Life was as God deemed it, and it was good.
For many people the freedom and goodliness of the fifties was too much to handle, and they rebelled. Through the sixties and seventies American society made great strides towards equality and social justice. Each stride towards a more just society had to be forced onto existing institutions. In our society no positive change has ever come about without the demand of large groups of people. Never have we seen an elected official push for long-term social justice. Each official needed to be forced, coerced, and pressured to sign historic bills such as: the Civil Rights Act, the Equal Rights Amendment, the American for Disabilities Act, the Clean Water Act, American Indian Religious Freedom Act to name a few. There are many more, but what these acts show is a tendency in American society to clearly disregard the spirit of constitutional rights, and yet on the other hand, have the chutzpa to claim we fight for freedom in foreign lands.
Many believe in the constitution and the freedoms it provides. Claims of “I have a right to” abound. The constitution is referred to whenever a group feels restricted to narcissistic access to guns, soda, porn, wage slaves or drugs. The constitution is also referred to when groups want to push their thinking onto society. School prayer, Ten Commandments and anti-abortion are the most prominent. Powerful groups use the Constitution to justify getting what they want, no matter who gets hurt. Unfortunately, the United States Constitution is often used more like a religious’ document than a social contract; and like most religious documents, is susceptible to misinterpretation.
Two schools of thought surround the United States Constitution. One school claims we should read the document with original intent. The other school takes a more flexible approach citing the Constitution as a living document which needs to change with society. No matter which way one reads the Constitution, nowhere are there notations for barring a group of people from enjoying the legal right for marriage.
In the fall of 2006, while citing traditional family values, Wisconsinites amended the state constitution banning same sex marriage. In the dairy state we showed the world we do not believe in liberty and equality and, least of all, due process. Eight years later on June 6th 2014 federal judge Barbara Crabb reminded Wisconsinites we are a constitutional republic ruled by laws not mob mentality. You don’t need to be a constitutional lawyer to figure out that if you’re going to take away the rights of a whole segment of the population, that maybe, just maybe, that action might be against the law. Wisconsin’s amendment redefining marriage violated not only the spirit of our constitution, but the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment.
The constitution was written for all people and thanks to the hard work of activists and organizers, this equal protection will soon be realized by gay couples all over the state. There are those who cannot or will not accept the change. These poor souls live in a myth of a bygone era of bobby socks, poodle skirts and drive-in burger joints. It’s good to look at the past with fondness; those were great times for a certain section of the American populace. It is now 2014 and unlike the 50’s when only white heterosexual couples enjoyed full protection under the law, it is now time to extend this protection to all peoples. ν
Frank graduated from UW Oshkosh, former machinist, roofer. Lives with wife Ann.