Friday, November 28, 2008

The Dictatorship of Prop. 8 Opponents

I've previously posted on the pending California Supreme Court review of the recently-passed Proposition 8, forbidding same-sex marriage in the state. I retain my rooting interest in a reversal--because the reasoning of such a decision promises to be priceless--though the amusement would be tempered by the tragedy of the imperial judiciary hijacking popular sovereignty.

Tuesday's Wall Street Journal included a similar take by William McGurn:
It's true that we've seen some wild things in the days since California voters approved Proposition 8 -- a measure on the state ballot prohibiting same-sex marriage. We've had the burning of the Book of Mormon. The mailing of envelopes filled with white powder to Mormon temples. And activists marching on Mormon churches with signs and shouts of "hate" and "bigot" directed at anyone who might have a difference of opinion.

In modern America, of course, these acts all come under the banner of "tolerance." And it's interesting that all those so outraged by the alleged disrespect toward the Quran shown by Guantanamo prison guards (the most sensational report was later retracted by Newsweek) appear unperturbed by the ugliness directed against our Mormon brothers and sisters. The temptation can be to saddle up the horse and ride out to take one's assigned place in the Great American Culture War. . .

What people hold as a moral ideal, however, and what they will accept as a workable compromise are two different things. Left to their own devices, most Americans can work these differences out in politics much as they do in their everyday lives, as untidy as these solutions may be. Unfortunately, when the courts short-circuit this process, they do three things corrosive to our politics.

First, they act as dishonest referees, imposing one set of preferences over another. . . Second, they cheat the American people of an honest political contest, where candidates need to persuade the people of their views to put them into effect. . . Finally, when courts usurp the role of the people, they inject cynicism and bitterness into America's body politic. . .

How much healthier our politics would be if those so convinced of the rightness of their views would have equal faith in the decency of their fellow Americans -- and their openness to being persuaded by clear, fair and honest argument.
The sub-head of McGurn's article sums it up:
Democracy loses if Prop. 8 is overruled
This is a proposition--respect for the vote's outcome--with which even pro-gay marriage leftists should agree. But I'm not optimistic, based on the California Fair Political Practices Commission's news on Monday, reported by FOX:
California officials will investigate whether the Mormon church accurately described its role in a campaign to ban gay marriage in the state.

The California Fair Political Practices Commission said Monday a complaint by a gay rights group merits further inquiry.

Executive director Roman Porter says the decision does not mean any wrongdoing has been determined.

Fred Karger, founder of Californians Against Hate, accuses the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints of failing to report the value of work it did to support Proposition 8.
Issue for California lawyers: I presume, were the complaint upheld, that the remedy would be limited to fines or other sanctions as opposed to invalidating the constitutional change.

Further, I note that Prop. 8 opponent University of Chicago law prof Geoffrey Stone insists that:
Proposition 8 was a highly successful effort of a particular religious group to conscript the power of the state to impose their religious beliefs on their fellow citizens, whether or not those citizens share those beliefs. This is a serious threat to a free society committed to the principle of separation of church and state.
This is nuts, as I have argued in other contexts, because it wrongly equates morality and religion. I agree with National Review's Richard Garnett:
[T]he fact that religious believers were much more likely to support Proposition 8 than were non-believers, does not, in my view, establish the point that Prop. 8 is (putting aside other questions about its merits) an effort to (in his words) "conscript the authority of the state to compel those who do not share their religious beliefs to act as if they do." As Stone himself writes, "[l]ike other citizens, [religious believers] are free in our society to support laws because they believe those laws serve legitimate ends, including such values as tradition, general conceptions of morality, and family stability." I do not see why we should think that this is not what Prop. 8's supporters believe. Stone insists that religious believers "are not free -- not if they are to act as faithful American citizens -- to impose their religious views on others", but again, it does not follow from the fact that most of Prop. 8's supporters are religious believers that they are trying to "impose their religious views on others."
Finally, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann calls the Prop. 8 vote "horrible," seemingly arguing it was improper to make laws "on a question of. . . love." Blogger Wry Mouth explains why Prop. 8's neither about feelings nor religion; indeed, it's silent on both love and sex.

(via Gateway Pundit, Hatless in Hattiesburg, Stop the ACLU)


Assistant Village Idiot said...

Geoffrey Stone seems to have overlooked the fact that people other than Mormons voted for Prop 8, and Mormons didn't force those others at gunpoint to do their bidding.

Who knew the LDS vote was so crucial in California, eh?

OBloodyHell said...

> Proposition 8 was a highly successful effort of a particular religious group to conscript the power of the state to impose their religious beliefs on their fellow citizens

... as opposed to a highly unsuccessful effort of a particular religious group (atheists are a religious group) to conscript the power of the State to impose their religious beliefs on their fellow citizens...?

Carl said...

Agreed on both counts. And isn't it interesting that Stone seems to ascribe extra-normal mind control powers to Mormons, without addressing whether that itself constitutes evidence of the existence of the Christian God.

Carl said...

Rick Hertzberg also blames Mormons. Perhaps that's because he thinks the LDS church endorses polygamy.

Carl said...

Of course, if you believe the New York Times, Prop. 8 was passed by church-going black women.