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Guardin' mates: Jersey paper sees civil rights are a popularity contest

by Jeremy Hooper

APPIn an editorial printed this week, New Jersey's Asbury Park Press came out and said that even though the state Supreme Court demanded equality for LGBT couples and even though the legislatively-enacted civil unions system has been found to have failed on the promise of fairness, the Garden State should still leave its gay residents marital future up to the whims of a bare majority:

Gay couples who have taken the legal steps of a civil union should be accorded the same rights — all of them — as married couples, including the sharing of benefits and decision-making rights on financial, medical and other matters. Whether to call it a "marriage" continues to be a hot topic of debate across the nation. In Maine, a law passed earlier this year allowing gay marriage is being challenged in a constitutional amendment expected to go to a public vote in November.

The issue should be fully aired and debated. Then it should be left to the voters to decide the matter.

Gay marriage: Put it on the ballot [APP]

Okay, great. And now we will begin lobbying to have Asbury Park Press' freedom of the press put up before a public vote. After all, if rights are all one big "American Idol" competition, why should stop at just Jim Verraros' union?

**And who's thrilled about this editorial suggestion? Why NOM of course:

Screen Shot 2009-09-10 At 8.30.24 Am-1

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Your thoughts

I am not confident that it would pass the vote there. Jersey is where I had a really bad surfing accident and my wife was almost not allowed to stay with me in the ER.

Speaking of surfing, I'm glad to have read earlier that Brian Brown likes to surf. If I see him, I am *so* stuffing his ass into a barrel.

I wish these people would understand just what an assault on human dignity it is to put a minority's rights up for a vote. Or maybe they do understand, and that's kinda what they're aiming for.

Posted by: GreenEyedLilo | Sep 10, 2009 10:30:19 AM

The United States Department of State's "Principle of Democracy" summary below outlines the basic idea of what a democracy is and how and why those ideas work.

"On the surface, the principles of majority rule and the protection of individual and minority rights would seem contradictory. In fact, however, these principles are twin pillars holding up the very foundation of what we mean by democratic government.

• Majority rule is a means for organizing government and deciding public issues; it is not another road to oppression. Just as no self-appointed group has the right to oppress others, so no majority, even in a democracy, should take away the basic rights and freedoms of a minority group or individual.

• Minorities – whether as a result of ethnic background, religious belief, geographic location, income level, or simply as the losers in elections or political debate – enjoy guaranteed basic human rights that no government, and no majority, elected or not, should remove.

• Minorities need to trust that the government will protect their rights and self-identity. Once this is accomplished, such groups can participate in, and contribute to their country's democratic institutions.

• Among the basic human rights that any democratic government must protect are freedom of speech and expression; freedom of religion and belief; due process and equal protection under the law; and freedom to organize, speak out, dissent, and participate fully in the public life of their society.

• Democracies understand that protecting the rights of minorities to uphold cultural identity, social practices, individual consciences, and religious activities is one of their primary tasks.

• Acceptance of ethnic and cultural groups that seem strange if not alien to the majority can represent one of the greatest challenges that any democratic government can face. But democracies recognize that diversity can be an enormous asset. They treat these differences in identity, culture, and values as a challenge that can strengthen and enrich them, not as a threat.

• There can be no single answer to how minority-group differences in views and values are resolved – only the sure knowledge that only through the democratic process of tolerance, debate, and willingness to compromise can free societies reach agreements that embrace the twin pillars of majority rule and minority rights."

It's pretty clear that the concept of the majority voting away the rights of the minority is in direct opposition to these principles and what democracy stands for. Groups such as FoF are trying to redefine democracy to mean majority rules. They don't have that right. And they need to be reminded of that, over and over.

Posted by: Julie M. | Sep 10, 2009 10:42:37 AM

The Founders were expressly concerned over the prospect of majority tyranny, and that's why we have a representative republic, not a democracy.

I wonder why people who advocate for putting minority rights to a popular vote are so anti-American?

Posted by: Sage goes in the name field | Sep 10, 2009 12:05:47 PM

Here is a fun little exercise, enter "gay asbury park new jersey" in a search engine and check out the results, over 28,600 appeared on google for this. There is a very large gay community in Asbury Park and I hope that they storm the paper with their indignation.

Posted by: Bob Miller | Sep 10, 2009 12:14:41 PM

The paper says our families "should be accorded the same rights — all of them — as married couples". But let's not forget that in Washington State, when the legislature gave us the same rights -- all of them -- the foul cretins still oppose us and have still forced a public vote to deny us those very rights. Like federal Republicans on health care, these people have no negotiating position -- all they want is the utter destruction of our families.

Posted by: Denys Howard | Sep 10, 2009 1:21:23 PM

"In Maine, a law passed earlier this year allowing gay marriage is being challenged in a constitutional amendment expected to go to a public vote in November."

Now correct me if I am wrong, but the Maine vote is a public veto and not a constitutional amendment correct? That was the impression that I have had all along.

Posted by: DanM | Sep 10, 2009 2:25:57 PM

The comments on the APP link for the editorial are very interesting. With the exception of one or two comments (and they don't make much sense) most are saying Rights are not to be voted on. They are mostly saying many of the things already posted here.

Posted by: Bob Miller | Sep 10, 2009 2:42:42 PM

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