Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Should Anyone Have Any Reason...

"This isn't about the sanctity of marriage. Its about the sanctity of the law".

The Passionate Centrist

I've tried to convey the point that the issue before us is not "gay marriage". The issue is should the citizens of this society have a say in this matter. So far, the courts have answered "no". In discussing the dangers of the courts usurping power beyond their authority, I keep hearing the comparison to the civil rights movement of the 50's and 60's.

Thirty-eight states legislators, in addition to the U.S. Congress have enacted laws defending traditional marriage. The Defense of Marriage Act, signed by President Clinton was passed by a vote of 342-67 in the House and 85-14 in the senate. In California Prop. 22 passed overwhelmingly with 61% of the vote through "direct democracy", the initiative process, which allows the voters to enact legislation and bypass legislators. This was all done methodically and within the legal framework and in direct response to the growing threat to traditional marriage from the courts. All to no avail.

"But, what about the courts role in the civil rights movement"? A very good question.

While most honest people can list many ways that gay rights and civil rights for minorities are not analogous, the role of the courts is not one of those reasons usually cited.

The first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution, "The Bill of Rights", were granted by the framers at the founding of our country. The remaining amendments were all passed democratically by prescribed methods after extensive debate. They were not mandated by the courts. Thus, they all had tremendous public support or else they could not have passed 2/3rds of Congress and 3/4ths of the state's legislators. The civil rights movement had huge support among the population outside one region. Support was so overwhelming that obstruction from the Southern states was overcome and the constitution was changed via democratically prescribed methods. (side note; the South was almost exclusively Democratic and more Republicans than Democrats voted for the 1963 Civil Rights Act). It is important to note that both congress and the state legislators are elected bodies directly accountable to the people.

The Constitution was amended no less than three times in order to bar discrimination on the basis of race - once to end slavery, once to provide equal protection and once to guarantee the right to vote. Now we are to believe the original text authorizes judges alone to redefine marriage?

The Civil Rights Movement was accomplished by the people through their elected representatives and the courts.

Now compare the campaign to protect traditional marriage and the Civil Rights Movement to the "top-down" campaign to recognize gay marriage.

These judges are unelected and appointed for life. There is no check or balance on their power. Defenders of traditional marriage can elect all the representatives and pass all the laws they want, but if courts separate themselves from the law and the obvious meaning of the constitution, the people are powerless. Therefore, opponents of homosexual marriage have no other alternative than to seek a constitutional amendment. No other choice. Trusting the Supreme Court to rule that the congressional act of DOMA does not violate the full faith and credit clause of the constitution is wishful thinking.

As an aside, let me point out that proponents of gay marriage have suddenly become "states rights" advocates. This is in contradiction to their entire political history. Such claims are insincere. Do they really believe homosexual marriage is a "fundamental human right" in Massachusetts and not Alabama?

Nationally, gay marriage has weak support. However, that support is disproportionately represented in the courts and , needless to say, the media. Shouldn't support from the people and their elected representatives trump judges and reporters?