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08/24/2010

Focus on the waffle: Same date, opposite elected duty

by Jeremy Hooper

Here's Focus on the Family, from a piece posted today:

California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman is making news because she said that, if elected governor, she will uphold the law. This is a headline in California.

I wonder if it’s also shocking that she will uphold the law even if it means that she will not have the support of major Hollywood stars. Shocking.

Weirdly, upholding the law is a crazy tangent from the what California voters have come to expect of current Governor Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Brown—at least as it concerns Prop. 8.
...
Even if a person disagrees with a law, there’s something amiss in America when elected leaders refuse to uphold the law and the will of the people. This should concern every American, not just those who support Proposition 8.

Candidate makes news with promise to uphold the law [FOtF Citizenlink]

Okay. So now let's look back at Focus on the Family, from a piece that was, in the freakiest of coincidences, posted a year ago to the date:

A decision not to defend a bad law is good news for marriage supporters in Wisconsin.

Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen — who ordinarily would defend a duly-enacted law — announced Friday he will not defend the state’s domestic-partner law from a legal challenge brought by a pro-family group.

Under that law, which passed the Legislature and was signed by Gov. Jim Doyle earlier this year, same-sex couples began applying for domestic-partnership recognition this month. Wisconsin Family Action has asked that the registry be declared unconstitutional under the 2006 amendment that defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
...
Jim Campbell, legal counsel for ADF, said he hopes the Wisconsin Supreme Court takes note of Van Hollen’s position.

“We believe that it’s very clear here. The people of Wisconsin said that they do not want the government creating anything that is substantially similar to marriage, and that is exactly what they’ve done here,” he said.

Campbell would like to see the state’s high court strike down the law.

“It would set good precedent for other states,” he said.

Wisconsin Attorney General Will Not Defend Domestic Partnerships [FOtF Citizenlink]

Right, so on August 24, 2009, it's totally awesome when an elected official decides to not defend a law that he finds out of line. But on August 24, 2010, there's apparently "something amiss in America when elected leaders refuse to uphold the law and the will of the people"? Interesting how that works.

Now, FOtF would surely argue that the "will of the people" only rests with a direct vote (as in Prop 8), and that WI voters are the ones being undermined because the legislatively-enacted DP system supposedly trumps the marriage ban they enacted at the polls. But this is of course hogwash. "The people" elect their representatives and their governor. This is how it works in America. And both that state's legislature and that state's governor put Wisconsin DPs into law, knowing that domestic partnerships are a separate system from marriage that do not, in any way, fool anyone into believing the two institutions are one and the same. AG Van Hollen is failing to defend the DP system because he personally thinks it's unconstitutional, just like Jerry Brown and Gov. Schwarzenegger think Prop 8 fails the legal smell test.

Regardless of where anyone stands on the principles and facts behind the individual refusals, it's completely errant to condemn one elected official's right as unconscionable, while calling the other "good news" and "good precedent." And it's equally disingenuous to act like Meg Whitman is the calm, cool head because she sees her responsibility to defend a law as dependent more on the bare majority number of the voting public that put it into place than on the merits of the law itself.

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