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Religious freedom, equal protection

July 15, 2012
Helen Kopsa and Andy Kopsa, Beaman , Times-Republican

Deane Adams' letter of July 8 says the Civil Rights Movement resulted in protections for people of color; therefore the "Civil Rights" label belongs to them only. No one would deny the historic and horrific struggle African Americans have had for their civil rights. But, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 also included equal protection to women of all races. And what about the Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968?

Civil Rights is defined in Wikipedia in part as: "ensuring peoples' protection from discrimination on grounds of physical and mental disability, gender, religion, race, national origin, age, sexual orientation"

A simpler definition from The New Oxford American Dictionary states, "Civil rights - the rights of citizens to political and social freedom and equality." Neither definition states that "civil rights" are only race based.

Adams' argument for a law that defines marriage between one man and one woman, which he says, should be voted on by Iowans, is based on religion alone. He wants "incontrovertible, scientific evidence that homosexuality is an innate characteristic like skin color." This is a tired argument.

We don't believe homosexuality is a choice - but so what if it was? Leaders then get to pass judgment on one person's choices over another? Restricting an entire demographic from the guarantee of equal protection under the law?14th Amendment be darned?

The 1st Amendment states: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" And Iowa's Constitution goes further, protecting citizens from being "compelled to attend any place of worship, pay tithes, taxes, or rates for building or repairing places of worship, or maintenance of any minister or ministry."

Both constitutions protect Adams' religion under the law, but they also protect laws from being made based on any religion. If we pass laws based on religion, are we not effectively, establishing a government-sponsored church?

Adams says, "We are all sinners and will stand before our Lord someday to be judged."

Whose "Lord" are we talking about? The God of Catholics, Hindus, Jews or Evangelicals? What about the Atheists? All groups have the right to exercise their belief or non-belief equally. And who gets to decide what is sin for all of us? Legislators? Voters? That's a question best answered by an individual, the dictates of his/her faith, or reason.

One freedom we all agree on is the freedom of speech. However, when it comes to passing laws, we believe legislators should not be wasting their time on "social issues" and do the real work of the government.



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