Marriage and the fear of democracy 1 Nov 2012
Ever since the rise of the progressive movement, the American Left has championed political reforms to create direct democracy: ballot initiatives, popular referenda, direct election of senators, and recall initiatives. But now, apparently, there are exceptions. They favor direct democracy  . . . except when they don’t like the result. Then they turn to rule by enlightened overseers.

Bob’s note: Yep. Ignore smacking referendum. Say that asset sales referendum should be adhered to

There is no other way to explain the odd editorial in Tuesday’s New York Times, one week before citizens in Maryland, Minnesota, Washington, and Maine consider ballot questions on marriage. The Times argues, in part:

The freedom to marry is a fundamental right that should not have to be won or defended at the ballot box. In fact, ballot initiatives are a bad way to write or rewrite laws of any kind. . . . Thanks to court rulings and legislative victories, same-sex marriage is now legal in six states and the District of Columbia.

The editorial comes on the heels of Gallaudet University’s decision to place a senior administrator on leave for signing a petition to refer the marriage question to Maryland citizens. Disturbing reading

When popular votes in 32 of 32 states go against you, you start taking a low view of democracy. Better to place your hopes with five of nine unelected justices of the Supreme Court.

….That is why “we the people” should decide it for ourselves. But as Dominique Ludvigson of the Heritage Foundation (where one of us works) has documented in a new paper titled “Circumventing Citizens on Marriage,” the people repeatedly have been thwarted in their efforts to do just that. Ludvigson draws the right conclusion: “Citizens in the voting booth — not activist courts or agenda-driven bureaucrats — should decide questions about the nature, civic purpose, and public interest in marriage.”

Citizens should seek to enshrine in law a sound conception of marriage, taking account of sexual embodiment and complementarity, the way sexual powers are ordered to procreation, and the ideal family structure for providing children with both mother and father.

As we argue with Robert P. George in our new book What Is Marriage?: Man and Woman: A Defense, marriage is a pre-political good springing from human nature itself. Prior to any governmental diktats, marriage is, of its essence, a comprehensive (mind-body) union of persons, ordered to the comprehensive sharing of family life. And only as a result of both these facts, it alone calls in a principled way for comprehensive commitment: permanent and exclusive. Marriage is, in short, a conjugal union. It makes a man and woman “one flesh” — in acts of conjugal love, and in the children that love brings forth — for the whole of life.

Because it uniquely fosters children’s development, a healthy marriage culture is in the state’s interest. But once the state gets involved, it must get marriage right — to make it easier, rather than harder, for people to live out the real thing. This includes the stabilizing norms that serve the public good, and that only the conjugal view can explain, or support in practice. Only by reflecting the truth about what marriage is as a human good can marriage law ever hope to serve the common good.

To recognize same-sex relationships as if they are marriages is to redefine marriage as simply an emotional union. But there is no reason that emotional union, any more than the emotions that set it apart, should be permanent. Or exclusive. Or limited to two. Or necessarily ordered to family life and hence shaped by its demands….

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