Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Tyranny of the majority

The Letters to the Editor section of my local newspaper had a whole section of letters about gay issues in today's paper. Most of them are from people on the same side of the issue as I am. The one that wasn't is interesting. It's the fourth one down, entitled "Courts not meant to make law."

Okay, point taken. The legislature(s) should make law and the courts interpret. But don't we want the courts, in their capacity as interpreters, to be a buffer against the majority oppressing the minority? Yes, Brown vs. Board of Education was a good thing! Yes yes YES! Just because the majority of people wanted segregation didn't make it right or just and thank God the courts intervened!

The majority of people in our country right now don't want gay marriage, but if what the majority wants is oppressive to the minority, and it is, then it's wrong and I for one want the courts to intervene and call it unconstitutional.

If the problem here is the word "marriage," fine. Let's call it "civil unions" or whatever, but unless civil unions give exactly the same rights and benefits at local, state, and federal levels, it's not just and it's the tyranny of the majority oppressing the minority.

Do I want courts making laws? No. But I desperately do not want the straight majority to be able to inflict its moral/religious opinion on the gay minority just because we outnumber them.


At 4:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've actually been thinking about this a lot. I've come to the conclusion that the European idea of having two ceremonies is the way to go. One ceremony is civil and is performed by a non-religious official (often a judge) on behalf of the state. The second ceremony (which is optional) takes place at the religious institution of the couple's choice. This creates a very effective separation of church and state.


At 11:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with Yav. Why not civil unions for everyone (with the current rights and responsibilities of marriage), and religious ceremonies for those who choose?

One issue might be the language. How do you make a verb out of "civil union"? "We're getting civilized!" cried the happy couple. Er, no. "Have you heard? C and R are getting unionized!" I don't think so.

I think that most people will continue to refer to het couples as 'married' and also apply that to same-sex couples. Only a few will stridently resist and attempt to correct a woman who introduces her wife, but really that's rude and as long as couples have the legal benefits, that's a personal problem for the opposition.

At 5:35 AM, Blogger Bad Methodist said...

I, too, like the idea of having the civil and religious ceremonies more separate for everyone.

The language thing is interesting. Personally, I think we should respect whatever a couple calls their own relationship. Two of my friends are calling their upcoming wedding a "wedding" and will refer to each other as "wife." As Christians, they are choosing to use the terms of the sacrament of marriage. Who am I (or the government or anyone else) to define their relationship differently than they do themselves?

At 7:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The way you phrased "the who am I to say?" what they call themselves question is exactly the point I was trying to make, only better said. :)


At 7:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Language is interesting. In NZ, the queer community has basically decided they will use the term "Civil Union Partnership" or "CUP." As in "you wanna get CUPped"?


At 6:57 AM, Blogger Bad Methodist said...

That sounds like circa 1950 college dating: "Wanna get pinned?" :)


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