07 April 2009

Democracy on the march

Vermont today became the fourth state to legalize gay marriage — and the first to do so with a Legislature’s vote. The Burlington Free Press reports that Gov. Jim Douglas’ veto of a bill allowing gays and lesbians to marry was overturned by a 23-5 vote in the state Senate and 100-49 in the House.

Excellent.   Full Story Here.

Better yet -- it was done by the legislature, not by the court.   There's a school of thought that civil rights should not be a subject to the whims of popular votes, which is true.  But it's better for society when the elected representatives of the people are enacting this sort of legislation -- it shows that attitudes are changing and people are moving past their prejudices.  Tactically, it's also less likely to provoke a backlash.


  1. Good for them. We may yet move out of the dark ages.

  2. Those who oppose this come up with all sorts of misleading reasons for discrimination. They refuse to see it as just that - discrimination. Most of their arguments make a better case for abolishing marriage, than arbitrary discrimination about allowing others to get married. Abolishing marriage is not at all what they want.

  3. Now we just need to get good ol' Washington on the bandwagon. For a liberal state, we're getting left in the dust!

  4. I was totally shocked (pleasantly) that Iowa legalised it! I mean, how can they do it and California can't!?!? WTF!

  5. civil rights should not be a subject to the whims of popular votes

    This kind naivete is dangerous, SF.

    I couldn't care less who marries whom. As far as I'm concerned, you can marry your toaster, if that will make you happy.

    But the notion that some things are too important to be left to the "whims" of democracy is a prescription for slavery.

  6. Catron,

    The United States is not a democracy because the Founding Fathers did not trust the general population. The Bill of Rights was a demand by the people, prior to ratification of the Constitution, to protect the people from the government. So, the voters agreed with avoiding democracy.

    Democracy is just formalized mob rule. An all-powerful government is just totalitarianism. The Bill of Rights, and almost all of the Constitutional Amendments since, help to protect the minority from malice, whether from the voters or from their representatives.

    Civil rights are an important protection from the whims of the voters.

  7. Your comment, Rogue, is a confused (and, yes, naïve) morass of internal contradictions. If you had spent more time reading history you would be profoundly embarrassed by the following:

    The Bill of Rights was a demand by the people, prior to ratification of the Constitution, to protect the people from the government.

    Nope. The Bill of Rights was not a demand “by the people” for anything. It was the brainchild of James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, two rich, slaveholding oligarchs.

    To the extent that you are able to move beyond pre-packaged talking points and think for yourself, consider the following: With the laudable exception of Vermont, the states that have “legalized” gay marriage have done so by judicial fiat.

    Allowing the courts this much power is very dangerous. Think about the Supreme Court decision in the 2000 presidential election. Would you not have been happier to leave this to the “whims of the voters”?

  8. Catron,

    Perhaps you could point to something that supports your position that the battle over the Bill of Rights was not one between the supporters of Madison and the supporters of Hamilton. Both sides were attempting to convince the representatives of the voters, since this is not and never will be a democracy, that they would be protected from the violence of majority faction.

    Madison intending to clearly limit the powers of the federal government. Hamilton seeing the enumeration of protected rights as a loop hole for the federal government to choose to restrict the rights of citizens; expanding the powers of the federal government. Marriage is just one example where Hamilton has been shown to be correct.

    The US Supreme court's decision had absolutely nothing to do with protecting the rights of Americans. there will always be activist judges, such as Justice Stevens and Justice Scalia on the Supreme Court.

    None of the judicial decisions ending the arbitrary limitation of marriage to one man and one woman, were by the US Supreme Court.


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