Thursday, 27 June 2013

Gay Marriage or Democracy, pick one.

I can't say that I'm surprised that the US Supreme Court has ruled to strike down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act.  Words like 'marriage' and 'spouse' in all existing and future Federal laws will now be taken as meaning either a same-sex or a traditional marriage or spouse.

In my mind, when it comes to things like hospital visitation rights, insurance, etc., it shouldn't matter what kind of relationship it is.   I would say it shouldn't need to be a marriage of any kind.  Why does there have to be a sexual relationship to give somebody that standing in your life?  I have two sisters who for several years shared an apartment before either of them married. Why not allow them to grant each other (if they want) a legal status that would allow them to better look after each other for the time they shared living accommodations?

In other areas, such as adoption, I think it is a great disservice to the child to deprive them of having a parent of each gender.  And how this change will play into the interaction between church and state (seeing as the wall of separation is not holding up so well) has yet to be seen.  I expect it to be used as a wedge to further attack that wall.  I would not be surprised to see the day where government pressure is brought to bear against churches that hold a position similar to ours.  More on that next time.

What should be more alarming than the effect of removing Section 3 is what precedents were set along the way to that ruling. 

Californian voters were given a choice, Proposition 8, and they had a free and fair election.  The Church came in heavily in favor of the proposition to ban gay marriage and became a target of angry gay activists in the aftermath of the vote.  So far everything is going along democratically, (except for the vandalism).

When the predictable legal challenges came, California’s Governor and the Attorney General refused to defend the proposition even though it was their duty to do so.  Other private groups were allowed to step in, but the U.S. District Court of Northern California ruled these groups had no standing to act before the court in defense of the proposition.  The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that decision, and so now has the USSC.  On top of this, in 2011 the Obama administration decided that it would no longer defend DOMA, even though it too had an obligation to do so.  Section 3 was not struck down on because of what is in it, but because those constitutionally and legally obligated to defend it sat on their hands.  For all the lip service Obama has given to supporting traditional marriage, his actions show his heart was never in those words.

The end result is a precedent where any ballot initiative or federal law can be invalidated by the State or Federal government by following the same process.  The whole concept of having a ballot initiative is nullified, increasing the power of the State government over people's lives.  The oath of a President to uphold the laws of the United States likewise become meaningless when the President and pick and choose what laws he upholds and what laws he throws under the bus.  Troubling indeed.

The second big area of concern is with the majority decision itself.  The ruling of the majority relies largely on denigrating the motives and character of the proposition and the groups defending it rather than dealing with the facts and the law.  The conclusion was that Section 3 only existed for the purpose to "disparage", "injure", "degrade", "demean" and "humiliate" homosexuals.  Where is the evidence that this was the motive and reason?  Where is the testimony to back this claim up?  Nowhere, it wasn't the topic under examination.

So it seems now that if you demonize a group thoroughly enough, you can get the courts to ignore the merits of their position. The majority has simply accepted the false argument made over and over in the media that opposition to same-sex marriage is inherently bigoted and a violation of the rights of gay persons.

Put it together and you have the will of the people, expressed both directly in Proposition 8 and through their elected representatives in DOMA,  thwarted by the executive and the judicial branches of government.  Gay marriage or a republic based on democratic ideas.  Pick one, it doesn't look like you can have both.

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