In Your Corner: Happy 239th Birthday USA

On July 4th the United States of America will be 239. And what an amazing country history we have had. Built into the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution which was signed over eleven years later on Sept. 17, 1787 was truth, wisdom, a caring for fellow men (hence a trial by jury, rather than “off with his head”) and a desire “to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence [sic] promote general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity (future generations).” (http://constitutionus.com) The ideals were broad enough to allow for a changing future.

Our forefathers knew human nature. That’s why there are three branches of government. The two branches of the Legislature makes the laws, but only after people in a state have signed petitions demonstrating to their senators or representatives that there are a considerable amount of citizens who need or want this law.

There are two senators for every state. So if those were the only legislators, the people in very populated California would be very underrepresented compared to much smaller populated Delaware.

To compensate, there are elected state representatives based on population, and these change based on the census. For a law to be passed, it has to be approved by both the Senate and the House of Representatives. It takes time.

The function of the executive branch of the government is to “ensure that laws are carried out and enforced to facilitate such day-to-day responsibilities of the federal government as collecting taxes, safeguarding the homeland and representing the United States’ political and economic interests around the world.” 9http://usgovinfo.about.com/od/usconstitution/a/branches.htm)

It is headed by the President of the United States who chooses his Vice President, and the cabinet members, who are Secretaries of important departments that carry out the function of the government and its laws. Currently they are: Secretary of State, Secretary of the Treasury, Secretary of Defense, Attorney General, Secretaries of the Interior, Education, Agriculture, Commerce, Health and Human Service, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, Energy, Veterans Affairs, and Homeland Security.

There are also “Cabinet-rank” Officials, who head up executive departments, but are not part of the official Cabinet: White House Chief of Staff, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Trade Representative, Ambassador to the United Nations, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, Administrator of the Small Business Administration.

The final branch is the Judicial Branch. It is headed up by the Supreme Court, and is the highest rule of the land. They have to interpret what the laws say, and if people or agencies, have violated the laws. Everybody’s talking about how the Supreme Court decided that, “The Court now holds that same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry.”

And that “Nothing in the court’s ruling would force religions to condone, much less perform, weddings to which they object, but that couples seeking the right to marry should not have to wait for the political branches of government to act.” (http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20150628_Supreme_Court_declares_nationwide_right_to_same-sex_marriage.html)

The are generated from the Constitution, which is basically the law of the land. It has changed with the times by the addition of Amendments.

Now girls, women, families, and lovers of women listen up. The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) originally written by Alice Paul and Chrystal Eastman was originally introduced in 1923. It basically stated that men and women should receive equal treatment, and should not be discriminated against based on gender.

It finally passed in both the house and senate in 1972, but it had to become ratified (agreed upon to become law) by 38 out our 50 states. Only 35 ratified it. Be proud to know that Hawaii was the first state that ratified it!

Women still do not have equal rights as men, which may be why women are paid about 75 cents to the dollar that men receive, except for certain professions that have scales of achievement to earn raises.

It seems that actress icon Meryl Streep is getting involved. She wrote letters to each member of the Senate and the House of Representatives, saying, “I am writing to ask you to stand up for equality for your mother, your daughter, your sister, your wife or yourself- by actively supporting the Equal Right Amendment.” (http://www.timesunion.com/news/politics/article/Capitol-Hill-Buzz-Meryl-Streep-asks-Congress-to-6343203.php) So I’m assuming that we have to start the ratification process all over again. Its time has come. Many people think that it is still in place.

What she is doing is what our forefathers counted on… that informed, educated citizens who had vision would take a lead in helping create policies and laws that would allow us the “Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness” that is in our Declaration of Independence.

The last sentence of the Declaration says, “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” How many politicians would honestly sign that now, and yet it really is a part of their job description!

Regarding divine Providence: Providence is defined as “the protective care of God or of nature as a spiritual power”. I know that there is talk about keeping religion out of politics. They’re different. Some religions have become political. Spirituality is not. Religion has dogma. Spirituality is about a people having a relationship with their Creator, and honoring others’ worshipful practices. That freedom of religion expression is guaranteed by our first amendment.

The youth coming up now has seen incredible changes in the direction of equality of rights for all individuals, and when a person’s rights seem tromped upon, such as the persecution of blacks by whites, or Christians by politically dangerous Muslims, we know that it’s very wrong, and changes are made.

Changes are happening right here! I read that the Kaua’i Police Department will be issuing body cameras and tasers to our policemen (executive branch) on the island who enforce our laws. Our officers will be able to protect themselves, and the rights of the alleged perpetrators will be upheld or there will be a recording to demonstrate why it wasn’t.

Now let’s get this ERA passed, and we’ll have another great day to celebrate! Happy Fourth of July, and Happy Birthday to a country that has been a great example of democracy and champion of human rights. Let’s keep the momentum going. We still have things to learn, and new challenges will arise. But we have a great blueprint!

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Hale Opio Kauai convened a support group of adults in our Kauai community to “step into the corner” for our teens, to answer questions and give support to youth and their families on a wide variety of issues. Please email your questions or concerns facing our youth and families today to Annaleah Atkinson at aatkinson@haleopio.org For more information about Hale Opio Kauai, please go to www.haleopio.org

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