When the founding fathers wrote the United States Constitution, they really wanted to make a statement to the rest of the world. Their intentions were clear from the very beginning with the words, “We the People.” The founders told the entire world that in the United States, the individual was sovereign over the state and not the other way around.
The American Republic was unique in the history of nations in that the government was chained down by law in a written contract that has endured for more than 200 years. It has been a model for the constitutions of the 50 states and for written constitutions throughout the world.
The U.S. Constitution echoes the theme of the Declaration of Independence, which notes that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are inalienable rights and that the proper role of government is to secure these rights.
The people of the United States acted together through their founders to establish the government. In a similar manner, the people act together through their representatives to pass local, state and federal laws.
However, the rights secured by the Constitution are individual rights and not collective rights. This is a critical point.
Again, from the Declaration: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are rights of individuals. A collective cannot pursue happiness because this would require everyone to have the same exact definition of happiness. The Declaration was pointing out the rights of individuals.
The U.S. Constitution, likewise, is geared to the rights of the individual. The Bill of Rights spells out many rights for individuals, such as rights to freely exercise religion and speech, to keep and bear arms, to be secure from unreasonable searches and to own private property.
The Indiana Constitution follows this model as well. Article I, Section 3 of the Indiana Bill of Rights states that, “no law shall, in any case whatever, control the free exercise and enjoyment of religious opinions or interfere with the rights of conscience.” Like other rights protected by the Indiana Constitution, this is an individual right.
There is a current attempt by some members of the Indiana General Assembly to downgrade the right of religious expression by making it a collective right in which certain groups such as churches would enjoy more rights than individuals. The proposed measure is called Senate Bill 100 and you can read it here.
Senate Bill 100 represents a wrongheaded and dangerous attempt to carve out a few certain instances in which property can be exchanged through voluntary mutual consent. In all other cases, government would force interaction between two parties in Indiana. Property would be exchanged through the force of the state.
It is wrong to allow collective freedom over individual freedom in Indiana. People have different beliefs based on their own individual moral conscience. I do not believe that individuals should blindly accept control of their freedom because of the whims of the state.
The real push for SB100 is coming from individuals who seek preferential treatment in Indiana based on sexual preferences. Those who advocate for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual lifestyles have every right to their beliefs. But they do not have the right to force those beliefs on Hoosiers who hold differing personal views. That, my fellow Hoosiers, is called freedom.
State Representative, House District 22