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US Supreme Court and gay marriage…

March 26, 2013

I am always amazed at how many Republicans confess that they are die-hard libertarians – that they don’t want the government poking its nose in their business, or at their gun shows, or taking any taxes, or telling them where to send their kids to school, or any of the myriad of other libertarian issues they have – yet, have no problem telling gay and lesbians that they can’t get married – and believe that the government should intervene to make sure it doesn’t happen.

Today, the US Supreme Court began hearings on whether the continued prohibition of same-sex marriage has any legality. I’m not sure how it can – assuming the law of the land believes in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (which the US is a signatory to). Or, if the law of the land believes in equality, that basic 21st principle that all people are created equal and that all people have equal rights before the law. Unless, of course, that only applies to heterosexual white people with incomes of $200,000 or more.

But it’s not entirely about the “law of the land” anymore. American democracy today is increasingly about populism – the idea that the majority rule, regardless of the issue. That the majority rule regardless of the Human Rights issues involved. Populism is just a fancy word for mob rule. And in many respects democracy itself is about mob rule.

But in a mature society, majority rule is also tempered by ideas of law, human rights, and sober second thought.

Twenty years ago I would have bet that same-sex marriage would soon be a done deal if it got to the US Supreme Court. Maybe that was my ingrained idealism. My belief that everyone, regardless of race, culture, income, ability had the same rights to live their lives as anyone else. But now I’m not so sure. The US Supreme Court has become as openly political partisan as Washington. So, now I’m not so sure that Human Rights will prevail in this instance.

John Stuart Mill, in his 19th century masterpiece “On Liberty” said that as long as you are not harming another, no one has the right to tell you what to do, what to say, or what to believe. And noted that mob rule, poulism, and democracy, is often nothing more than the Tyranny of the Majority. 

If anyone knows what the “tyranny of the majority” feels like, it is our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters. 

It was 40 years ago that our own Prime Minister said that the government had no right to be in the bedrooms of the people. It was as obvious as it was inspiring.

Man, America could use a little of that wisdom today. 

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