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Don't monkey with a beautiful document - Bob Paslay

I love the American Constitution. Anyone who loves clear, beautiful and concise writing has got to love this document.

If you read the constitutions of states, wow, what a headache. They put everything but the kitchen sink in them.

And then loading them up with all this stuff, they have the great burden of getting it out, which requires a vote of the people each time something useless is extracted.

I remember the embarrassment of states which still kept anti-racial mixed marriage laws and other discriminatory laws on the books long after the courts had struck them down.

I like order to my government. You set a framework, a set of concrete blocks of life, a rudder in your Constitution. You then pass specific laws and put them in your bound law books. These are more specific rules and if you need to change them you just get the legislature to make the change.

Again, the U.S. Constitution has withstood an assault on its pristine rudder. The Senate has rejected the idea of putting a ban on gay marriage in the Constitution. You will remember the fervor over burning the American flag and how some wanted to load this ban into the Constitution.

Every time one of these attacks on this beautiful document occurs, I hold my breath and pray we won't give into the pandering. Each time the grand old document withstands the assault, I celebrate.

I sincerely do not care who gets married. I have said before that I am sure marriage is a wonderful institution. I just don't want to be institutionalized. If you took all the gay people across American who are clamoring to get married you probably could fit them into Phillips Arena in midtown Atlanta. There are probably more reporters covering this story than there are gay people wanting to get married.

If you want to get married, get married. If you want to live with someone and not get married, don't get married. If you want to live like a hermit and leave all your worldly possessions to a favorite dog or cat, do that. I just don't care. To me it is like smoking. I go in a restaurant and they say seriously: Smoking or Non-smoking. I say. I just don't care. Put me somewhere where they are going to wait on me in this same decade.

I applaud the fact that some reasonable senators take the same position I do on the issue of the Constitution. Pass all the laws you want, just don't go messing up the beautiful language of the Constitution.

I don't understand this obsession about imbedding this latest non-issue in the constitution, either state or federal. The proponents would argue that some court couldn't touch the issue in the future because it is in the constitution. To start with, that is just not true. It wasn't true when state constitutions had laws outlawing black-white marriages, when they had laws saying black people couldn't vote, when they had laws saying women couldn't vote or serve on juries. Once the courts have set the constitutional standard for the nation, those parts of constitutions in conflict with this ruling are worthless. They just hang around in the documents like bad guests hang around long after your party is over.

I took the same position on the burning of the flag as I do on this smoochy, woochy marriage issue. I am from a textile state and I urged people to look at the positive aspect. If they burned a million flags, thousands more of my home state's workers could be kept busy making new flags. These textile workers can make them faster than you can burn them.

Also, it seemed to me that while I get a lump in my throat when I see that beautiful tri-color flag flapping in the breeze, I don't care if someone buys their own and burns it. It is kind of what the flag stands for n a nation in which the government is not going to intrude in your life and micromanage what you do. It's like the people who got upset that John Kerry, as a Vietnam veteran, came back to America and worked across the nation trying to end the war. Wasn't he doing his duty and fighting for the very right to express his opinion about the war? Isn't the American flag an even stronger symbol because it represents a nation of freedom in which we can express ourselves without the law hauling us off to the pokey?

I look around Clayton County and metro Atlanta and see faded, tattered flags flying and this offends me more than someone who buys their own and burns it. But the point is laws like this do not need to be in the Constitution.

A lot of these issues are like the one razor blade by one crazy in a Halloween apple decades ago and now we have to X-ray all the kids' candy. I doubt if more than a dozen flags have been burned in my lifetime. One crazy guy has something in his shoe aboard a plane and now we all have to haul our shoes off at the airport.

I have a bet with a friend of mine about what the people of Georgia will do in November when they vote on putting the anti-gay marriage ban in the state constitution. I say that unlike the U.S. senators, they will basically vote their spleen and lash out against the concept of gay marriage. She says that even people who hate the idea of gay marriage will say it has no place in the constitution and it will fail.

Over the years I have gotten lots of free lunches from bets by not overestimating the sophistication of people's thinking.

Bob Paslay is assistant managing editor of the News Daily and Daily Herald. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753 Ext. 257 or at bpaslay@news-daily.com.