Welcome to Massachusetts where on Monday will go from the Bay State to the Gay State with the legalization of Gay marriage. At midnight tonight America will become just the fourth country to allow gay marriage, for better or for worse. To some this means America is the progressive nation that is accepting the changes that must exist in a free and open society. To others it is a dangerous decay of the moral fiber of this nation.
Now I know that has had far to many essays in favor of gay marriage, and indeed far too many essays that have one thing or the other to do with the issue that remains at the forefront of the national political debate, second only to Iraq and terrorism. I also understand that many people are sick of rehashing the same arguments for and against the legalization of gay marriage. I only add my own voice to the debate because Massachusetts has become the battleground for gay marriage and one way or the other it will be settled in my home state.
It is because of the vast number of essays that have been posted on this site that I will ignore the basic arguments for and against gay marriage for the time being. Those of you who will take the time to review this will have undoubtedly reviewed too many others with the same 'freedom to do what you wish', and 'bible against gays' arguments. Thus I have chosen to ignore that aspect of the debate and instead look and the overshadowed portion of this entire controversy: the way at which the gay lobby was able to legalize marriage.
In this country we have a set system of checks and balances upon which all things are settled. In order to legalize something a law must be passed and to do that it must be brought to the attention of the legislature or voted on by the public. If this law is considered unconstitutional it is brought to the attention of the court system and may or may not be struck down. I have simplified the process, which is different and unique for every state in the country, but that seems to be the basic concept for the US and Massachusetts in particular.
Unfortunately it has become common practice for those political organizations that cannot find popular support for their causes to circumvent the process of a bill becoming a law by going directly to the courts. In the case of gay marriage in Massachusetts this circumvention of the legislative branch was employed to great success by the gay lobby. Instead of going to the people with a popular mandate for gay marriage, mainly because they knew that popular support for gay rights does not exist in Massachusetts and does not exist in the nation at large.
A liberal state supreme court, seeking to influence politics and public policies that have tainted the objectivity of that same court, struck down laws against gay marriage and in a huge overstep of their boundaries, demanded that the legislature change the constitution by May 17, allowing for gay marriage. To the supporters of gay marriage this was a great victory, comparable to Roe v. Wade and Brown v. Board of Education. To the rest of us it was a small minority forcing their beliefs and way of life on the rest of us. This is comparable to a coup in the sense that the very foundation, the will of the people, was completely ignored. Both the public and the public's representatives, equally split in Massachusetts along the lines of gay rights, were left out of this entire debate.
This is what has angered me more than anything else about gay rights has. For years we have been told that holding personal opinions that might be anti-gay is homophobic and comparable to being members of the Ku Klux Klan. For years we have been told that gay rights are the future, despite overwhelming opposition to those rights. (Again, I have no statistical evidence to back that up and will no doubt be painted as untrustworthy by my detractors, but I instead base that statement on the seeming backlash, not only in Massachusetts, but also across the country against gay rights. For every mayor or judge that hands out marriage certificates there is a town that decides to ban gays from its borders, and a state that considers adding a marriage amendment to its constitution.) Since when does a judge have the right to decide what is good for me and what is good for society without the input from the public, the legislature, or even the governor or president? Shouldn't this have been decided in the public forum, like every other great debate in our history?
The implications of these actions are staggering. Of course some people will say that rights of gays needed to be accepted by this country and if circumventing the usual process of creating a law had to be done then so be it. What is being pushed from the limelight is that this opens the door for all sorts of things. Any minority with an agenda that is not favored by the majority of Americans can now influence politics and society by working with the courts instead of the legislature. Again this will be pushed away by those who feel that the ends have justified the means in this case. That is to say that even though the basis for our government has been bypassed it was for a good cause. I do not want to be perceived as a fear monger so I won't spend anytime carrying on about the sky falling, but this does set a dangerous precedent and gives the courts far more power than they should have in this country. Even more infuriating is the obvious disregard of these implications of the gay lobby and their determination to carry on the fight in other states. According to gay rights groups this is the start of a period of progress and breakthroughs.
The only upside to this entire debacle is the way it has galvanized the nation this year. The entire debate will be carefully covered in the November election, no doubt to the detriment of democrats, with Massachusetts becoming the rallying cry of those who support the renegade courts to the rallying cry for those who oppose it. Whether or not you support gay marriage should play no role in this debate. There is a right way to do things in this country, a right way to make laws and pass public policy. That way includes the voices of the people and the work of the legislature and executive branches.
In 2006 the Marriage Amendment, defining marriage as a legal document between a man and a woman, but allows for civil unions, will be brought before the people. It jeopardizes every step the gay lobby has made in Massachusetts. Hopefully the amendment will pass and this threat upon the system of checks and balances that this country rides on will be removed. It is not a debate of whether you are for or against gay marriage. That will never be truly decided just as Roe v. Wade has never been decided. It is an issue that should concern every citizen of this country. Who has more power? The lobbies or the people? The courts or the legislature? In the coming weeks and months it is up to the people of this country to speak out on this issue and we will see who is truly in charge of this nation.