Power to the people!

Yesterday, in response to my posting about gay marriage, longtime valued commenter JimK asked just how far I was willing to trust public referendums as the “final say.”

It’s a fair question, and one that deserves a serious answer.

P.J. O’Rourke, a man whose writings have greatly influenced me, once pointed out that “pure” democracies tend to last about as long as it takes 51% of the people to realize that they can freely screw the other 49% at will. He’s quite right, and for that reason I am profoundly greatful that our Founding Fathers set up a representative democratic republic, with certain fundamental rights recognized and safeguards set up for the protection of the minority.

That being said, I still believe that in matters of purely social import, where the acceptance by the majority is a key element, a public referendum is the best way to go.

When the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court first imposed gay marriage on the state, I predicted at the time that there would be a backlash effect. And when mayors in New York and California started issuing marriage licenses to gay couples in clear violation of existing laws, I was even more confident that would happen.

And it did.

I sincerely believe that a government-sanctioned legal bond between two consenting adults of the same sex would be, overall, A Good Thing for our society, and believe that it is going to happen some day. Whether it is called “marriage,” “civil union,” or “hroffelnitz” doesn’t matter to me a whit — these relationships are very real, and are here to stay. Society should recognize them and welcome them as a source of much-needed stability in our culture.

But a bare majority of a panel of seven judges in one state hardly constitutes “public acceptance.” How this change comes about is just as important as the change itself.

I don’t know why I expected more from the state that gave us John Kerry, Ted Kennedy, and Michael Dukakis.

Some diamonds are dross
The New Truth Laid Bear

17 Comments

  1. John June 16, 2005
  2. Michael Cummins June 16, 2005
  3. John June 16, 2005
  4. McGehee June 16, 2005
  5. McGehee June 16, 2005
  6. Kelly June 16, 2005
  7. Sabba Hillel June 16, 2005
  8. DaveD June 16, 2005
  9. LargeBill June 16, 2005
  10. Oh, FTLOG June 16, 2005
  11. frameone June 16, 2005
  12. Chad June 16, 2005
  13. Mongke June 16, 2005
  14. JimK June 16, 2005
  15. homocon June 17, 2005
  16. Alec June 17, 2005
  17. fatman June 18, 2005