Saturday, March 21, 2009

Is the "direct democracy" of Proposition 8 a good thing in general?


Jeff Amestoy has a bizarre op-ed on p A13 of the Washington Post, Saturday March 21, 2009, “Winning By Losing on Prop. 8” link here.

He predicts that the California Supreme Court will almost certainly let proposition 8 stand. He argues that citizens and voters have always had an easier hand amending state constitutions than the federal constitution (the amending process of which was so thorough analyzed by John Vile in the early 1990s). He also says that in general, this is a good thing, direct democracy.

What, then, about the ability of voters to “take away rights”? Amestoy doesn’t really get into that enough. It isn’t so hard to remember the same arguments with Romer v. Evans on Colorado Amendment 2 in the 1990s. And the real significance of marriage law goes way beyond the rights (and responsibilities) of the partners in a marriage. It significantly affects how the unmarried and childless will be treated, and whether they will be expected to sacrifice for families “for the greater good”. It does, in some parlance, affect the “rules of engagement” in other areas. The same can be said about the military’s “don’t ask don’t tell” which has affects on others outside of the military.

But the real significance of Proposition 8 may be that by 2012 or so (assuming we survive the Mayan calendar) voters are likely to overturn their own previous vote the next time around. Hold the referendum again even today and proponents of gay marriage just might win, through the political process.

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