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05/22/2008

You be the judge: Wanna live with unfettered mob rule?

by Jeremy Hooper

This is a sample of the kind of logic that Randy Thomasson and his crew at the Campaign for Children and Families are using to fuel their efforts to overturn the CA Supreme Court's recent marriage decision:

Courts commonly order their decisions to be stayed (meaning "not in effect yet") pending an appeal to a higher court. In this situation, the people of California are that "higher court." The people are "reviewing" the court's decision and can overrule it on the November ballot. Issuing a stay is in deference to the people's upcoming vote to uphold or overrule the Supreme Court!

200805221126The people are the "higher court??! Uhm, in a word: NO! The highest court has ruled, basing its decision on rights that are currently guaranteed by the state's Constitution. The opposition is not trying to do as a theoretical higher court would do and evaluate the merits of the legal arguments. Instead, they are trying to alter the California Constitution to eliminate the protections that led to the decision in the first place. They are working to pass an amendment not because they should, but rather because they technically can. The difference between evaluating the legal guarantees that are already in place vs. working to restrict those guarantees is a very significant one!

The only reason why this is even at issue is because long-held biases have given a pass and even a credence to anti-gay discrimination. It's just like in an earlier day, there would've been a large degree of support for inequality against various other groups. But just because popular opinion exists at a markable degree, it doesn't do one thing to justify the narrow beliefs. And that's the major difference here: The independent judiciary has a duty to look past the noise and look to the worthiness, while the public can let itself be guided by personal opinion (be they fair or unfair). The far-right's constant denigration of the courts on this issue is not only hostile to gay rights, but also to the fundamentals of America government.

The truth is none of us would really want to live in a world where the opinions and whims of the public truly were the "highest court" with an infallible body of knowledge. We must be kept in check. Folks like Randy Thomasson know that, they are just using these "will of the people" claims because, well, they work. Rather than acknowledge the truth, which is that gays are being denied by marriage inequality, they act as if the opposition is being denied by not be able to deny others. Then, since they have no real basis under current law to get their way, they use this "we've been denied" battle cry to futz with the constitution so that it bends to their exclusionary whims (which, inevitably in a fair society, would someday be overturned again). That's not an example of a "higher court," but rather of a mob expressing a tyrannical misuse of its citizenship. Shall such uncivilized endeavors always end in failure.

Ask Schwarzenegger to seek a "stay" of the Supreme Court's "gay marriages" ruling [CCF]

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Your thoughts

The problem here is that sooooo many Americans lack a basic understanding of civics and the system of government in their own native country.

It's very sad that Arnold Schwarzenegger, a naturalized citizen, has to explain it to his constituents, but indeed he does.

If the "average American" was "halfway educated" on these issues, nobody would buy their arguments about the "will of the people" being thrown out.

Posted by: Evan | May 22, 2008 4:29:23 PM

The courts are the last resort for the minority voices in a democracy. If the courts didn't exist, mob rule would definitely ensue and minorities might eventually cease to exist . . . and that would be truly sad.

Almost as sad as the Governator teaching civics lessons.

Posted by: Dick Mills | May 22, 2008 11:43:51 PM

And we all know why they are so eager to stop this from going forward. Once marriages actually start happening, and people see the happy couples, many are disinclined to take it away. It's one thing to just *continue* to deny it, but often people feel completely differently about taking the right away.

Ever see the documentary, "Saving Marriage", about the amendment fights and marriage in MA? In short, what happens is that after marriages start actually happening, even the leading politician who originally was a co-sponsor of the amendment dropped his support, for the above reason.

Plus, if marriages start to happen, and their state doesn't go to hell in a hand-basket all of a sudden, many straight people will be shown how little difference it actually makes for them, on top of how much it means to us.

Posted by: PSUdain | May 23, 2008 1:30:17 AM

Jeremy: Your argument here rests on two assumptions.

One, that the California Constitution actually forbids making a distinction between traditional heterosexual marriages and homosexual couples. You have given no reasons for thinking this to be the case; you simply act as if its as self-evident as the warmth of the sun.

I know you've decided I'm not worthy of engaging in discussion, but if your going to go on asserting this you should offer some justification.

Second, you assume that all opposition to equating gay unions with marriage as based in anti-homosexual sentiment. Why?

Posted by: David | May 23, 2008 3:04:03 PM

Standard response to all comments from 'David' of 'Stop The Tyrants' (above):

After engaging/indulging David for over a year, I finally wised up and realized that every last dialogue we have shared has been completely fruitless. And not in just a "we disagree" way -- I enjoy engaging in reasoned dissent, which can be both fun and even educational. David, however, is simply not open to any exchange of ideas. I have gone over every comment he has ever made on here: The aggressively closed-off tone is the one consistent. His mind is made up, and any attempt at discourse with him will fall on the deafest of ears.

So I will no longer dignify, or really even read his reliably self-aggrandizing, non-productive, school marm-like comments. It might be in everyone's best interest to do the same.

Posted by: G-A-Y | May 23, 2008 3:08:10 PM

He he he. You really did it. You posted your 'David is a really bad guy' script even here!

For what?

If I'm being self-aggrandizing or "school marm-like" on this thread I'll eat my computer.

Posted by: David | May 23, 2008 10:39:35 PM

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