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Old 10-05-2005, 09:06 AM   #1
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The people's voice on gay marriage

http://www.boston.com/news/globe/edi..._gay_marriage/

JEFF JACOBY
The people's voice on gay marriage
By Jeff Jacoby | October 5, 2005
WHEN CALIFORNIA lawmakers narrowly passed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage last month, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced that he would veto it. Not because he opposes legal rights for gay and lesbian couples -- he doesn't -- but because he opposes treating California elections as meaningless. Five years ago, Californians went to the polls and approved Proposition 22, a ballot initiative confirming the traditional definition of marriage. Unless they change their minds or are overruled by the Supreme Court, Schwarzenegger said, their decision ought to be binding. As his spokesperson put it in a statement, ''We cannot have a system where the people vote and the Legislature derails that vote."

Needless to say, liberal supporters of gay marriage had a fit. ''The governor is disingenuously claiming that the Legislature has overturned the intent of voters," a Los Angeles Times editorial growled. ''Does he not believe in the American system of representative democracy?" A letter to the editor mocked a governor who ''runs and ducks for cover behind the courts and 'the people.' Who's the girlie man now?" But it wasn't Schwarzenegger who was being disingenuous, and it would be no bad thing if more politicians showed comparable respect for laws passed at the polls. Proposition 22 -- which read, in its entirety, ''Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California" -- was ratified by a lopsided majority of California voters, winning more than 4.6 million votes and carrying 52 of the state's 58 counties. What could the people possibly have done to make their intent any clearer?

In an earlier era, liberalism and respect for the vote went hand in hand. Liberals fought to extend the franchise to women. They were leaders in the civil rights movement, raising their voices -- and sometimes laying down their lives -- for the right of Southern blacks to vote. A century ago, progressives championed the direct election of US senators, a movement that culminated in the adoption of the 17th Amendment in 1913. But today liberalism all too often displays a strong antidemocratic streak, and nowhere is it more blatant than on the issue of same-sex marriage. Every time voters have been asked whether the fundamental definition of marriage -- the legal union of a man and woman -- should be radically redefined, they have given the same answer, and generally in a landslide. In the past five years, voters in 16 states have adopted constitutional amendments barring same-sex marriage. (Statewide votes are pending in five more states.)

Those who believe that gender should be irrelevant to marriage may be passionately convinced of the justice of their cause. But they have not managed to convince a majority of their fellow citizens. Faced with such strong and consistent electoral opposition, same-sex marriage advocates ought to be reworking their arguments and finding better ways to make their case. They could be trying harder to understand the concerns and depth of feeling on the other side. Or they could decide to wait until public sentiment has shifted, and then go back to the voters with a new referendum.

Instead they seem to have decided that if they can't win democratically, winning undemocratically will suffice. And so we have seen same-sex marriage by judicial fiat, as in Massachusetts. We have seen same-sex marriage by executive decree, as in New Paltz, N.Y., San Francisco, and a few other cities where marriage licenses were issued to gay and lesbian couples by order of the mayor. And we have seen same-sex marriage by legislative snub, as with the California bill last month.
The marriage radicals are not coy about their willingness to brush democratic scruples aside. When 130,000 Massachusetts voters petitioned state lawmakers in 2002 for a constitutional amendment in defense of traditional marriage, the Legislature's liberal leadership refused to bring it to the floor. Though the state Constitution required an up-or-down vote before the measure could be sent to the voters, the Legislature simply adjourned, strangling the amendment in its crib. The gleeful reaction of one lawmaker, state Senator Cheryl Jacques, was telling. ''I'll take a victory on this any way I can get it," she said. Not long afterward, Jacques became executive director of the Human Rights Campaign, a leading gay and lesbian advocacy organization.
Same-sex marriage proponents do themselves no favors with this win-at-all-costs, to-hell-with-democracy approach. And it is no answer to say that gay and lesbian marriage is a matter of civil rights, and no one's civil rights should be put to a vote. Whether same-sex marriage should be thought of as a civil right is precisely the question to be decided. The way to decide it fairly is to decide it democratically.
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Old 10-05-2005, 09:17 AM   #2
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Re: The people's voice on gay marriage

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Originally posted by MaxFisher
And it is no answer to say that gay and lesbian marriage is a matter of civil rights, and no one's civil rights should be put to a vote. Whether same-sex marriage should be thought of as a civil right is precisely the question to be decided. The way to decide it fairly is to decide it democratically.
I imagine that you would have been in favor of putting the question of the African-American vote to a referendum, too.

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Old 10-05-2005, 09:28 AM   #3
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Arnold will veto for one and only reason, to keep conservatives on his side. Period.

Also to what Pax said. People just don't get it.
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Old 10-05-2005, 09:35 AM   #4
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Jeff Jacoby always writes like that, you can go to Boston.com/the Globe and look at some of his other columns and see a pattern He's a good writer but I don't agree w/ him here

I don't see why we need to vote on such a basic right, gay people just want the right to marry that everyone else has. When was there a vote on straight marriage? I guess it was before I was born or something...
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Old 10-05-2005, 09:39 AM   #5
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Re: The people's voice on gay marriage

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Originally posted by MaxFisher
[B][url]Or they could decide to wait until public sentiment has shifted, and then go back to the voters with a new referendum.


as with Massachusettes, i would imagine -- now that we've seen that Boston Harbor hasn't boiled and dogs and cats haven't fallen from the sky -- that if this were left up to a people's vote again, in 2005, instead of in 1999 or 2000 when Proposition 22 was passed, you'd have a much changed electorate opinion. much has happened in the past 5 years, and in the past 2 years alone, and attitudes in most of the blue states are, firstly, quite welcoming to the idea of civil unions (go my home state of Connecticut! the first civil unions started taking place there this week ... i'll post photos), and are also warming up to the idea of marriage equality.

but, as Pax has said, we don't leave civil rights up to the whim of the voters. again -- miscegenation laws.

i also wish Jacoby would give it a rest. every time he writes an article on same-sex marriage, his arguments get less and less passioante as even he is starting to realize that, guess what, there's really no legal argument to be made against it.

the debate, at least legally, is essentially over.

the "people" will come around.
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Old 10-05-2005, 10:10 AM   #6
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Re: Re: The people's voice on gay marriage

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Originally posted by Irvine511
but, as Pax has said, we don't leave civil rights up to the whim of the voters.
Then who determines civil rights?

What if the whim of the voters eventually is to support gay marriage but a conservative supreme court deems it unconstitutional?

Massachusetts aside, the "people" have voted overwhelmingly against gay marriage, including people in "blue states". These votes must be respected. I would feel the same way if they had voted in favor of gay marriage.

I find the flippant belittlement of these votes troublesome. Last time I checked we were living in a democracy.
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Old 10-05-2005, 10:17 AM   #7
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Re: Re: Re: The people's voice on gay marriage

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Originally posted by MaxFisher


Then who determines civil rights?

What if the whim of the voters eventually is to support gay marriage but a conservative supreme court deems it unconstitutional?

Massachusetts aside, the "people" have voted overwhelmingly against gay marriage, including people in "blue states". These votes must be respected. I would feel the same way if they had voted in favor of gay marriage.

I find the flippant belittlement of these votes troublesome. Last time I checked we were living in a democracy.
Let's not forget that before women voted and before blacks voted, the "people" were overwhelmingly against that as well. Did that make it right? So a change in people's perception is the only way to make it right for you? Must be easy when they are on your side right now...
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Old 10-05-2005, 10:21 AM   #8
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Re: Re: Re: Re: The people's voice on gay marriage

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Originally posted by BonoVoxSupastar


Let's not forget that before women voted and before blacks voted, the "people" were overwhelmingly against that as well. Did that make it right? So a change in people's perception is the only way to make it right for you? Must be easy when they are on your side right now...
Who determines which laws will be changed?

If the people's view or perception is discounted, then who makes the decision?
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Old 10-05-2005, 10:29 AM   #9
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Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The people's voice on gay marriage

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Originally posted by MaxFisher


Who determines which laws will be changed?

If the people's view or perception is discounted, then who makes the decision?
In this case Arnold should be brave enough to stand up for a people who don't have a big enough voice to counteract the fearful. That's how all great changes have been made it starts with one voice. But he choked and gave into the fear of his party.
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Old 10-05-2005, 10:36 AM   #10
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Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The people's voice on gay marriage

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Originally posted by BonoVoxSupastar
In this case Arnold should be brave enough to stand up for a people who don't have a big enough voice to counteract the fearful. That's how all great changes have been made it starts with one voice. But he choked and gave into the fear of his party.
There are countless groups who don't have a big enough voice to "counteract the fearful."

PETA comes to mind. Their views are clearly in the minority. Should Arnold stand for them and make eating meat illegal?

How does a politician determine which groups he/she should stand up for?
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Old 10-05-2005, 10:37 AM   #11
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Re: Re: Re: The people's voice on gay marriage

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Originally posted by MaxFisher


Then who determines civil rights?

What if the whim of the voters eventually is to support gay marriage but a conservative supreme court deems it unconstitutional?

Massachusetts aside, the "people" have voted overwhelmingly against gay marriage, including people in "blue states". These votes must be respected. I would feel the same way if they had voted in favor of gay marriage.

I find the flippant belittlement of these votes troublesome. Last time I checked we were living in a democracy.


did you feel the same way when those four black teenagers were allowed into a white high school in Alabama and Ike had to call in the National Guard? how about LBJ destroying the Democratic hold of the south (that continues to this day) because he passed the Civil Rights bill in 1965?

if we left everything up to direct democracy, we'd probably have the establishment of protestant Christianity as a national religion and we'd rename AmTrack the Jesus Choo-Choo.

civil rights, generally, are based upon interpretations of the Constitution and are generally determined through court cases -- see Brown vs. Board of Ed, and Lawrence vs. Texas.
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Old 10-05-2005, 10:37 AM   #12
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Re: Re: The people's voice on gay marriage

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Originally posted by Irvine511
but, as Pax has said, we don't leave civil rights up to the whim of the voters. again -- miscegenation laws.
If they'd put civil rights for African Americans to a vote in my home state, Alabama, in the '60's, the white voters--the only ones who could vote--would have voted against giving them the vote. In 1964 Barry Goldwater, running against civil rights legislation, carried this state. Does all of this mean this vote would have been justified? I don't think so.
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Old 10-05-2005, 10:38 AM   #13
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Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The people's voice on gay marriage

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Originally posted by MaxFisher


There are countless groups who don't have a big enough voice to "counteract the fearful."

PETA comes to mind. Their views are clearly in the minority. Should Arnold stand for them and make eating meat illegal?

How does a politician determine which groups he/she should stand up for?


it comes back to constitutional law.

if eating meat were determined to be unconstitutional, then it could become law.
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Old 10-05-2005, 10:41 AM   #14
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Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The people's voice on gay marriage

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Originally posted by MaxFisher


There are countless groups who don't have a big enough voice to "counteract the fearful."

PETA comes to mind. Their views are clearly in the minority. Should Arnold stand for them and make eating meat illegal?
Animals aren't human. Last time I checked there weren't basic rights granted or denied my the constitution. But nice try.

Quote:
Originally posted by MaxFisher

How does a politician determine which groups he/she shuld stand up for?
When they know they are right. You have one group being denied something all other consentual adults can have, based on nothing but religious interpretations. Nothing else, just pure fear.
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Old 10-05-2005, 10:49 AM   #15
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Re: Re: Re: Re: The people's voice on gay marriage

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Originally posted by Irvine511
did you feel the same way when those four black teenagers were allowed into a white high school in Alabama and Ike had to call in the National Guard? how about LBJ destroying the Democratic hold of the south (that continues to this day) because he passed the Civil Rights bill in 1965?

civil rights, generally, are based upon interpretations of the Constitution and are generally determined through court cases -- see Brown vs. Board of Ed, and Lawrence vs. Texas.
First of all, of course I would have supported black highschool students being allowed to attend white schools. Unfortunately, I wasn't born until 1980.

There was strong support in many other states for these civil rights laws to be passed. I don't think the same can be said for gay marraige. That's where I make my distinction between past civil rights ruilings and gay marriage. So far, with the exception of Massachusetts, every state that has had a vote for gay marraige has voted it down. If a large constituency of states support gay marriage, then I would take another look.
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