Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Tyranny of the Masses: Referendums Need to Go

In yet another state, gay marriage was brought to referendum and defeated tonight in Maine; every single state which has held a "direct democracy"-style referendum has dealt a blow to gay rights by outlawing same sex marriage. "The people have spoken; it's the will of the voters," the bigots who defend this abhorrent abridgment of human rights claim--which is, quite frankly, a view completely ignorant of the history of democracy in the United States. I'll be up front: it's time for referendums and other vehicles for voters to directly decide policy issues to go for the incredible threat of tyranny of the masses they enable.

Worse, in Maine, the elected legislature had expressly legalized gay marriage; there was no wiggle room for conservative bigots to shout about "activist" judges. Rather than undertaking the proper representative democratic process, through which unhappy voters would campaign to unseat supporters of the enacted law and replace them with representatives who could then enact legislative change, the mob mentality prevailed yet again.

Our founding fathers--heroes one and all to the conservatives who are so hell-bent on depriving honest couples the legal codification of their relationship--expressly opposed direct democracy and instead favored representative democracy, where voters elect representatives who in turn vote to enact or repeal legislation. This mechanism serves as a powerful check on demagoguery and mob rule and works to help ensure the minority groups (be they by race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or even political philosophy) are not trampled upon by the majority.

Once again, too, the churches played a huge role in the political process--a move which should cost them their tax-exempt status and could be seen as a violation of election law. Where the Mormons dumped cash and deceptive activism into enacting California's Proposition 8 last year, in Maine it was the Catholic church who played the primary role. Both from within the state and across the country, the Catholic church itself sent millions of dollars to support this anti-gay-marriage miscarriage of fundamental rights.

(Let me indulge for a moment in a bit of anti-Catholic jeering: just ponder the irony of a church which has a documented and extensive history of enabling sexual perversion and pedophilia and harboring its guilty practitioners spending millions on ad campaigns which made such outrageous claims as gay marriage would mean sexual predators in schools, kids being taught to embrace gay marriage, etc. It's rather sad when you think of it, and it's little wonder to me why there's so much anti-Catholic hatred out there when such a large and supposedly benevolent organization continues to practice such rampant discrimination and hurt.)

And a hint to the opponents of gay marriage who make the (potentially dubious) claim that they stand with the majority: the majority once supported slavery, too. The majority once opposed interracial marriage (and ridiculously, at least one moronic public official in Louisiana still does...) How about you lead and choose to stand on the right side of history for a change? Don't the churches claim they made a big deal in helping end slavery? Wouldn't it be a feather in their caps to be able to say, "In the interests of human rights and justice for all, we as Christian leaders feel it is time for the discrimination to end."

Personally, as a straight, married man, I don't get what the big deal is for all the folks who get their panties in a wad over gay marriage. For those citing religious reasons, hey, think about this for a moment: the Christian Bible also says the cure for leprosy involves sacrificing several birds, and that women should be subservient to men in all things. But mainstream Christianity has rejected those (and many other) ridiculous notions--so how about rejecting the utterly ridiculous notion that gay marriage is evil? No one is going to make you get married to someone of the same sex, and the notion that allowing gay marriage will require your kids be taught to embrace homosexuality (or will allow pedophiles into schools--or even that gays are somehow all pedophiles) is simply ridiculous and an insult to anyone of intelligence.

So, back to my original point: we have representative democracy (a republic, as conservatives are so wont to point out when it's convenient for their purposes); even our President is elected indirectly via the much-loathed Electoral Congress rather than directly by voters. What we saw last year in California and now this evening in Maine are proof of just why we have representative rather than direct government, and why referendums like this need to go.

No comments: