NOM BLOG

If Referendums Aren't the "Avenue to Equality" -- Why File Them? Why Poll?

 

William Yeomans, who served as Sen. Kennedy's chief counsel on the Senate Judiciary Committee, has a rambling op-ed in Politico this morning entitled "Referendums Are Not the Avenue to Equality" where he tries to go after Gov. Christie for proposing to allow the people of New Jersey to decide the marriage debate.

Yeomans' argument can all be boiled down to one of his lines: "Subjecting the civil rights of a minority to a referendum in which the majority rules has never been a reliable solution."

The rest of his argument attempts to align Gov. Christie (unfairly) with those who opposed racial equality and desegregation for African Americans in the past -- a line of argument that gay marriage activists continue to put at the tip of their rhetorical battering ram against the commonsense definition of marriage.

But as our President Brian Brown reminded Evan Wolfson this week, the question of marriage boils down to precisely this: "Is there a civil right to redefining marriage?" I don't think so. Yeomans evidently does.

Two more obvious rebuttals to Yeomans' argument: if it is unfair to subject the "rights" of a minority to a referendum, why have gay marriage activists in Maine done precisely this? Demanding that the people of Maine vote on marriage again, having already rejected same-sex marriage a mere two years ago? Will Yeomans compare gay marriage activists in Maine to those who supported the continuation of Jim Crow? I doubt it.

Second point: if subjecting the "rights" of a minority to a free and fair vote of the people is always wrong, why do gay marriage activists continually cite polls claiming that a majority of people in a given state support redefining marriage? All of Yeomans historical examples claim that if the civil rights of African Americans were to be voted on for much of our history, they would lose at the ballot box. But gay marriage proponents want us to believe that a majority of people, say, in New Jersey, support their agenda. And these same activists won't allow the only "poll" our democracy proscribes -- the people voting -- to be registered. So why cite polls? It's like claiming there is no need to vote on a President every four years if Gallup says a majority of Americans support the incumbent the day before the election.

In the end, no amount of false historical comparisons that Yeomans strings together can overcome the obvious self-contradictions in his argument.

43 Comments

  1. anonygrl
    Posted February 7, 2012 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    Never been a RELIABLE SOLUTION?? In fact, subjecting the civil rights of the minority to the tyranny of the majority is COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE.

    Our legislatures are elected specifically to prevent civil rights from being trampled on by people with different religious opinions. Good for them for doing their jobs.

  2. Karen Grube
    Posted February 7, 2012 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    Thank you, Thomas, for making so starkly clear the hypocrisy of those who refuse to allow the voters to make this decision for themselves. Any bill to redefine marriage will go down in flames in Washington and Maine when the voters are allowed to have their voices heard. To be honest, I think this is happening now in particular because those who support ssm know things will change after the next election, and they will be faced with the prospect of an Amendment to the U.S. Constitution defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

  3. Mr. Incredible
    Posted February 7, 2012 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    RE: Prop 8

    The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit is about to release the opinion of a three-judge panel of the Court.

    It will be announced here: http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/content/view.php?pk_id=0000000513

  4. Barb Chamberlan
    Posted February 7, 2012 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    Great piece, Thomas. Comparing the push for SSM with the real civil rights movement is simply bizarre, and I can understand why so many of our black citizens find the comparison downright insulting. The argument might sound good as a slogan, but it simply falls apart when one gives it 5 seconds of thought. Gay folks already have equal rights. That does not include a "right" to redefine marriage.

  5. M. Jones
    Posted February 7, 2012 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    The race comparison is ludicrous. People generally cannot change their race, they can however in most cases control their sexual behavior.

  6. Ash
    Posted February 7, 2012 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    Great post, Thomas.

    I think the constant citing of polls is just an attempt to demoralize marriage supporters. The "you might as well give up" strategy, which has not and will not work. Of course they don't want to submit ssm to the ultimate "poll," because they already know what the outcome will be.

    As for comparisons to the real civil rights movement, SSMers are not alone. Many left-oriented causes are notorious for claiming that the denial of their policy goals is akin to the historic maltreatment of Blacks. It's just another one of their tactics to shame opponents and turn themselves into victims. But, like the poll-citing strategy, this one is also a bust.

  7. Rich
    Posted February 7, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    Karen, up here in Maine, the shenanigans and lies of 3 years ago are clear to all, now. I think you're in for a unpleasant surprise.

  8. Posted February 7, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    One must remember that the right to marriage is already available to all, regardless of sex, race, sexual orientation, etc.

    There is no right to redefine marriage.

  9. Louis E.
    Posted February 7, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    There is no right to have opposition to a policy characterize one as a member of a "minority" with a "right" to defy that policy.And the general welfare requires policies that guarantee preference to opposite-sex over same-sex couples.

  10. John Noe
    Posted February 8, 2012 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    Right off the bat there are two phony arguments that the sodomites use and it regards the term "minorities". Do minorities have rights over a so called tyrannical majority? Yes.
    BUT THIS DOES NOT MEAN THAT THE SO CALLED MINORITY MAKES UP THEIR OWN RULES. MINORITIES REFERS TO PEOPLE AND NOT BEHAVIOR!!!!!!!
    As an example a nudist would be a minority just like a homosexual. However if fall for the sodomites phony claim then that means the nudist would be free to disobey any clothing required laws. It would be the clothing majority infringing on the rights of the minority. Take the beach for example. The nudist is allowed to use the beach equally as the clothist. As long as both wear the swimming attire. What it does not mean is that this minority simply redefine the rules of the beach and then claim they are only seeking equallity. See the flaw in the sodomites argument. They claim a definition of minority and intrpretation of the Constitution that only applies to them.
    The second flaw is the claim that because you belong to some sort of minority behavior or belong to a minority group you are free to make up whatever laws you want claiming minority. The membors of the Masonic order for example are a minority. But they do not have the freedom to redefine marriage or make up their own rules and call it equallity.

    LASTLY BEWARE OF THE SERIOUS FLAW IN THE SODOMITES ARGUMENT. This is what the Muslims want when they want Sharia Law imposed on us all. If the minoritiy homosexual is allowed this then what legal basis is there to deny an Islamic person who wants the laws to conform to Sharia Law?

  11. The.Truth
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    Mr. Peters, Are you suggesting that once people vote in a referendum that's it for ever? How long should that vote be good for before another on the same our similar question is allowed? Five years? Ten? A generation?

    The little detail you are leaving out is that this restriction against same gender marriage was put in place by a referendum, and can now only be overturned by a referendum.

    Yes it is wrong to put minority rights up to a popular vote, but in Maine that is now the only course of action. What else would you have them do? Wait the many years it may take for the supreme court to say that it is unconstitutional to take away rights in this fashion? I don't think so. Eventually that will happen, but in the meantime since rights can be secured now, it makes sense to get them rather than have to wait.

  12. The.Truth
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    And.... Here we go. Cowardly NOM restricting posts to their forums. Typical.

  13. The.Truth
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    Oh that gets through but what was wrong with my longer reply?

  14. The.Truth
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    Let's examine which phrases get your post automatically tossed.

    same gender marriage

  15. The.Truth
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    Mr. Peters

  16. The.Truth
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    Mr. Peters, Are you suggesting that once people vote in a referendum that's it for ever? How long should that vote be good for before another on the same our similar question is allowed? Five years? Ten? A generation?

  17. The.Truth
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    The little detail you are leaving out is that this restriction against same gender marriage was put in place by a referendum, and can now only be overturned by a referendum.

  18. The.Truth
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    Yes it is wrong to put minority rights up to a popular vote, but in Maine that is now the only course of action. What else would you have them do? Wait the many years it may take for the supreme court to say that it is unconstitutional to take away rights in this fashion? I don't think so. Eventually that will happen, but in the meantime since rights can be secured now, it makes sense to get them rather than have to wait.

  19. The.Truth
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    Yes it is wrong to put minority rights up to a popular vote, but in Maine that is now the only course of action. What else would you have them do? Wait the many years it may take for the supreme court to say that it is unconstitutional to take away rights in this fashion?

    I don't think so. Eventually that will happen, but in the meantime since rights can be secured now, it makes sense to get them rather than have to wait.

  20. The.Truth
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    minority rights up to a popular vote

  21. The.Truth
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    supreme court eventually

  22. The.Truth
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    Yes it is wrong to put minority rights up to a popular vote, but in Maine that is now the only course of action. What else would you have them do?

  23. The.Truth
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    Wait the many years it may take for the supreme court to say that it is unconstitutional to take away rights in this fashion? I don't think so. Eventually that will happen, but in the meantime since rights can be secured now, it makes sense to get them rather than have to wait.

  24. The.Truth
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    Wait the many years it may take for the supreme court to say that it is unconstitutional to take away rights in this fashion? I don't think so.

  25. The.Truth
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    supreme court unconstitutional

  26. The.Truth
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    unconstitutional to take away rights in this fashion

  27. The.Truth
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    wait the many years it may take

  28. The.Truth
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    Hmmmm. Something in the complete sentence I am trying to form gets automatically screened.

  29. The.Truth
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    Wait the many years it may take...

  30. The.Truth
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    for the supreme court to say...

  31. The.Truth
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    that it is unconstitutional to take away rights in this fashion?

  32. The.Truth
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    Well that's the complete sentence. if I tried to post it all together it won't post. Hmmmmm

  33. The.Truth
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    Ok. To go on then...

  34. The.Truth
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    ...I don't think so. Eventually that will happen, but in the meantime since rights can be secured now, it makes sense to get them rather than have to wait.

  35. The.Truth
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    ... I don't think so. ...

  36. The.Truth
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    Eventually that will happen, but in the meantime since rights can be secured now, it makes sense to get them rather than have to wait.

  37. The.Truth
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    Eventually that will happen,

  38. The.Truth
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    but in the meantime since rights can be secured now, it makes sense to get them rather than have to wait.

  39. The.Truth
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    but

  40. The.Truth
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    in the

  41. The.Truth
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    The system doesn't like this word:

    m e a n t i m e

  42. The.Truth
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    ...since rights can be secured now, it makes sense to get them rather than have to wait.

  43. Zack
    Posted February 10, 2012 at 12:08 am | Permalink

    @Truth

    Rights are put to a vote every time the legislature comes into session and votes. Even judges vote. So no matter how one looks at it, it's going to be voted on. So you might as well let the people decide.