The wrong way to win the right to marry
By Doug Mainwaring
Same-sex marriage has been defeated by popular vote in 31 states, most recently in Maine. It has been legalized through court rulings or legislation in five. While legalization in these states is claimed as a victory for gay people, the nagging truth remains: In every state where the issue has been put before the voters as a referendum, it has been squarely defeated.
That is why the D.C. Council pushed hard earlier this year to enact a law recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions. It is also why the council is moving ahead with alacrity to pass legislation legalizing such marriages in the District. Council members know that if this issue were put before residents as a referendum, the measure would probably fail.
I am a gay man and, like every American, I yearn for those things that were so brilliantly articulated in the Declaration of Independence: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But also included in that document, in the same paragraph in fact, was the reason for the Founders’ profound declaration: escaping from tyrannical government. They would go on to create for this new nation a government founded upon what can only be described as a divinely inspired Constitution that protected its citizens from the tyranny of their government and the imposition of the will of a few upon all.
I yearn, too, to be married someday, but at what cost? To force same-sex marriage into law through the caprice of judges, the sympathies of a majority of various legislatures or even the fiat of a president can be viewed as a kind of tyranny.
We must read the writing on the wall: Thirty-one votes, 31 rejections. Repeated attempted end-runs around our fellow Americans are not a good strategy, and the odds can’t possibly be in our favor in the other 19 states and the District. Clearly, the general public is not ready. A much better path to gay marriage as a matter of civil law is for the people of this nation to warmly welcome its enactment.
This is the greatest nation on Earth, and its people are the finest. One of the many daily proofs of this is the unprecedented, formerly unimaginable level of acceptance and support we gays now enjoy here. I have great faith in the extraordinary good will and good sense of my neighbors and of people across this nation. Gay-marriage law should not be born from tyranny but from a further embracing of freedom grounded in the Constitution. To achieve it in any other way would be an uncomfortable and hollow victory.
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