by Cato Rand
I had all intentions of making some comments on the latest deal between Jamaica and the International Monetary Fund but that post will have to come at a later date, as I must respond to Mr. Peter Espeutʼs column ʻGay Rights and Human Rights’ published in the Jamaica Gleaner of Friday February 15, 2013. I have long wanted to discuss the concept of rights and so let me thank Mr. Espeut for the prompt.
A right is a moral principle; defining and sanctioning man’s freedom of action in a social context; and by definition rights do not impose obligation(s) on another person. Thus the Bill of Rights in the United States Constitution speaks not about the ʻright to happiness’ but the ʻright to the pursuit of happiness’; not about the ʻright to arms’ but ʻthe right to bear armsʼ.
There are a lot misconceptions about what is a right, thus we hear talk about the right to a job, the right to education, or the right to health care. But these are not rights as they would place an obligation on others. For example my job has to be provided by another person.
Rights are violated by the use of physical force. In a civilized society physical force is banned from the interactions between individuals. The primary purpose of government is to protect the rights of its citizens.
So I will agree with Mr. Espeut “gay marriage cannot be a human right”. But guess what? – Neither is heterosexual marriage! Marriage cannot be a ‘right’ as this will place an obligation on another individual.
Now I do support persons of the same sex being able to have their commitment to each other legally sanctioned if they so desire. Each person should have equal protection under the Law and if as a society we say that it is okay for persons of opposite sex to be married then it is only just that the same be extended to homosexuals.
Cato Rand is a Black (heterosexual) Jamaican of Libertarian and Conservative persuasion. He is a fervent believer in Capitalism, Freedom and the principles outlined by the US Constitution and it being applicable to all peoples, including Jamaicans. He is a strong advocate for the limited role that a government should play in the lives of people.