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Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Are some more equal than others?

The judgment from the Supreme Court in California last week raises interesting points, the chief of which is, “Should the wishes of the majority take precedence?”

It is Judge Vaugn Walker’s assertion that the ballot-led Proposition 8 in the state, which outlawed gay marriage, “was premised on the belief that same-sex couples simply are not as good as opposite-sex couples”.

“One of the biggest outcries over Prop 8 was that the fundamental rights of a minority group could be taken away by popular vote – which isn't supposed to happen in America, land of the free,” says an opinion piece by Joel P. Engardio in USA Today.

Engardio says that the Jehovah’s Witnesses helped Walker to form his judgment, and you’ll need to click on the link to see how – but it’s an interesting read, going back to an incident when JW kids were expelled from public (state) schools for not saluting the American flag and how a judge at the time, Robert Jackson, talked of the “tyranny of the masses” – a phrase immortalised by Alex de Tocqueville in his 19th-century book Democracy in America.

A subhead in the USA Today story says “Rights trump elections”, and this is the basis of Walker’s judgment: if the will of the majority could be trumped in the JWs’ case, it can be trumped here. The rights of what was an unpopular religion were protected – minority rights – so they should be protected here.

It’s noteworthy that, while the Mormons helped to swing the Proposition 8 vote against gay marriage, the JWs, although they’re as against same-sex unions as the Mormons are, didn’t vote. They’re apolitical. “Rather than forcing their beliefs through legislation, they prefer to find converts by sharing a message,” says the paper.

Unfortunately, they share the message by knocking on your door at the most inconvenient times and are often hard to get rid of. On one occasion, I just started pointedly eyeing up the younger of two men who called. They soon left.


Rainbow said...

And now the homophobes of Proposition 8 complain that Judge Walker had "subverted the popular vote"

In reality, the referendum on gay marriage should never have been done. Can you imagine a referendum on civil rights of blacks in Georgia or Alabama in the sixties? Or a referendum on voting rights for women? Certain values of equality and justice are not negotiable, and should certainly not be submitted to a vote of a humoral populace easily influenced and conditioned. Otherwise it'll end up as Jesus and Barabbas vote ended.

That referendum was accompanied by misleading propaganda, lies, repeating the most trite prejudices about homosexuals and by ravings about the need to "defend marriage" (whose?) from gay marriage. But equal rights in marriage cannot harm in any way heterosexual marriages, and none of those yelling homophobic bigot against gay marriage would be forced to marry a man ... as they probably wanted "the people" to believe. No, it wasn't an honest referendum. It's only fair and just that the result was overturned. and that Justice and Civil Rights have triumphed over bigotry and prejudice.

Bob Hutton said...

Read my article on the Brighton parades

Andy Armitage said...

By all means go and read Bob Hutton's article, but be warned that he's a big God fan, and thinks homosexuality is sinful. Go on, have a laugh. I won't delete his link, because it's not out-and-out commercialism and to do so would be to deny him free speech. It's not often I come down to the comments area and take issue, but Bob's nutty take on how being gay is depraved is worth a read. Or maybe his entire blog is just a joke, and I'm missing the point.

Stuart Hartill said...

Thanks for leaving Bob the Bibler's link on, Andy. After reading his cluless garbage about Pride I really didn't know whether to laugh or cry.
Fundies like Bob are a pain, but maybe we have to read this bilge from time to time to remind ourselves just how clueless some Christians can be, and how dangerous to humanity if never challenged.
If only Bob & his ilk spent less time 'preaching to the perverted' and much more time reading work by the more thoughtful examples of Christian life.

tom sheepandgoats said...

they share the message by knocking on your door at the most inconvenient times and are often hard to get rid of

Ah well. Ideally, with time you become more artful at getting rid of them, and they become more artful at discerning.