Today we rode 79 miles from Dubois to Riverton. We climbed 1,200 feet, but overall it was rolling hills with net elevation down. It was supposed to be an easy day, but we fought a headwind for a good portion of the ride and the temperature was in the 90s, nearing 100 when we finished. The air/breeze rushing by us felt hot. So it was actually a fairly tough day.

Today is the Fourth of July, and I am going to reflect on that by quoting an excerpt from an edit written by Ted Olsen, a conservative Republican who served as George Bush’s Solicitor General (after putting him into office by prevailing in Bush v Gore at the Supreme Court). He also is an ardent supporter of marriage equality and has so far successfully prevailed through the Ninth Circuit in invalidating Prop 8 together with his friend and sometime legal adversary David Boies (who ironically opposed him in Gore v. Bush). The case will undoubtedly be heard next year by the Supreme Court. I would urge everybody to read the article in its entirety, as Olsen includes a number of humane points about how important the institution of marriage is in defining one’s place is society, and he decimates the objections sometimes thrown up against marriage equality. (Google Ted Olsen “The Conservative Case for Gay Marriage”). But to celebrate the Fourth of July, I want to reflect on this portion of Olsen’s piece:

“Legalizing same-sex marriage would be a recognition of basic American principles, and would represent the culmination of our nation’s commitment to equal rights. It is, some have said, the last major civil-rights milestone yet to be surpassed in our two-century struggle to attain the goals we set for this nation at its formation.

This bedrock American principle of equality is central to the political and legal convictions of Republicans, Democrats, liberals, and conservatives alike. The dream that became America began with the revolutionary concept expressed in the Declaration of Independence in words that are among the most noble and elegant ever written: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Sadly, our nation has taken a long time to live up to the promise of equality. In 1857, the Supreme Court held that an African-American could not be a citizen. During the ensuing Civil War, Abraham Lincoln eloquently reminded the nation of its founding principle: “our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”

At the end of the Civil War, to make the elusive promise of equality a reality, the 14th Amendment to the Constitution added the command that “no State shall deprive any person of life, liberty or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person the equal protection of the laws.”

Subsequent laws and court decisions have made clear that equality under the law extends to persons of all races, religions, and places of origin. What better way to make this national aspiration complete than to apply the same protection to men and women who differ from others only on the basis of their sexual orientation?”

Happy Fourth of July!

South of Dubois, rock formation

Jefferson’s words in Declaration of Independence (plaque at Mt. Rushmore)