Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Can You Say, "Amendment"?

I don't know if it's the air, the phase of the moon, or some kind of massive psycho-social-electro-hyper-magnetic-converging-consciousness event, but I have been asked the same question in several different variants today.

The clearest example, from commentor Brian Holmes over at Independent Gay Forum:

So, where, exactly, does the state get the authority to write the whims of the majority into law?

Um.... Article V, Constitution for the United States of America.

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.

Read twice, make sure that it sinks into your consciousness.

What this means is that nothing is beyond the reach of a determined majority. The procedures outlined in Article V increase the requirements for enacting a change, but they never abrogate the point -- namely, that even the most fundamental law of our country is subject to "the whims of the majority".

Unfortunately, this is not a concept universally known, or even recognized, within the "gay community".

The reason why is relatively simple. Were the power of voters to be acknowledged, much of the gay community would have to come to grips with their attitudes towards them. Public contempt, hate, and mockery for them would become all too obviously a suicidal set of behaviors. The conflating of unrelated issues, such as unlimited abortion and removal of parental notifications, with gay rights would be exposed as counterproductive, inasmuch as it forces voters to choose between opposition to gay rights and support of these other issues.

In short, if they recognized this reality, "gay rights" groups and activists would have to focus on appealing to people with whom they don't agree in a mature and respectful fashion. Furthermore, they and their boards would have to forego their links with the organizations and groups that provide them handsome personal payments and cocktail-party invitations in exchange for supporting these groups' unpopular positions.

Pigs will fly first.

However, we'd better begin working on porcine aerodynamics, then, because the practical implications of this studied or real ignorance have been made all too clear over the past few years. Driven by the concern, real or imagined, that the judiciary will overturn state restrictions on gays and the fact that gay rights have been associated with leftist causes ranging from removal of parental rights to pedophilia, voters have repeatedly and in large margins rewritten fundamental law to put a stop to matters.

Rather a high price to pay for falling asleep in civics.

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