In his excellent piece opposing a California Supreme Court decision overruling Proposition 8, William McGurn echoes some of the arguments I’ve been making electronically (i.e., on this blog) for as long as I’ve been blogging and verbally for as long as I’ve been talking about gay marriage.Â He holds that judicial resolution of the issue would only serve to prolong a bitter debate, whereas a democratic solution might more readily yield a social consensus:
How much healthier our politics would be if those so convinced of the rightness of their views would have equal faith in the decency of their fellow Americans — and their openness to being persuaded by clear, fair and honest argument.
I remain puzzled why so many supposed advocates of gay marriage remain so unwilling to actually advocate the cause they champion. They demand state recognition of gay marriage, insisting it’s a right yet all too few ever defend the institution itself on its merits.
I believe the state Supreme Court should let Proposition 8 stand even as I believe the language my fellow Californians voted to include in our state constitution does not belong there because, as I put it in a recent post, “I prefer democracy to oligarchy.” McGurn fleshes out that argument:
The great achievement of our system was to create a political order where these great moral disputes, as a matter of policy, are left to the people — with allowance for differences according to region and locale. Moral agents have a role to play, generally by shaping the larger culture in which these decisions are framed and debated. But the outcome is left to the people acting through their elected representatives, a process that inevitably involves compromise, trade-offs and messy accommodations.
When “the courts short-circuit this process, they do three things corrosive to our politics,” including cheating “the American people of an honest political contest, where candidates need to persuade the people of their views to put them into effect.” Not just that, he believes (as do I) “when courts usurp the role of the people, they inject cynicism and bitterness into America’s body politic.”
Let us avoid such cynicism and bitterness. The demographic trends favor state recognition of same-sex marriage, at least in the Golden State. If state recognition of gay marriage is what we want, we should have the resolve, the determination, to make our case to those who, in a free society, should ultimately decide such things: the people.
Just read the whole thing!