Gay Marriage in Utah Trumps Democracy

Gay Marriage

In a stunning judgment which didn’t really stun anyone, a Federal Judge in Utah has decided that gay marriage is a “right” which trumps the democratic process. Despite the people of Utah voting overwhelmingly that a marriage is defined as “a union between one man and one woman,” Judge Robert J. Shelby decided that he alone, knew better. Utah’s Amendment 3, which made that definition clear, passed with an incredible 65.9 percent For, to 34.1 percent Against. Numbers like those carry the weight of a mandate. That is not the kind of hair’s breadth decision which might require a Federal Judge to intervene.

The state of Utah did NOT vote-in gay marriage. The people of the state have clearly defined marriage in their constitution, which Judge Shelby’s actions singlehandedly struck down. Shelby wrote a 53-page ruling saying that Utah’s current law denies gay citizens of their “fundamental right” to marriage. If gay marriage were a fundamental right, why would it only become an issue in the Twentieth Century? Aren’t fundamental things also called “the basics?” Ideas which everyone has already agreed upon as right and fitting, from the beginning? Marriage between a man and a woman is fundamental. Marriage between two men or two women is a relatively novel concept.

Shelby feels that failing to recognize a union between same sex partners as a marriage, somehow demeans the dignity of these couples. So he, in the Person of the Court, deemed Utah’s established law to be somehow unconstitutional. Dignity comes from within, and is defined by one’s actions. Dignity cannot be conferred on someone by the Government.

In his reasoning, Shelby sited the 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, in particular the part which reads “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States… nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” Until rather recently, the Law has only recognized marriage as a “one man, one woman” arrangement. The 97 percent of the American population who will never need to look at gay marriage as anything but a philosophical debate, might deserve a little equal protecting of their own.Democratic Republic

In siting the 14th Amendment, Shelby seems to have completely overlooked the 10th. It reads “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” Nothing in there about “unless some judge feels otherwise.” The people of Utah were extraordinarily clear on the matter of gay marriage, as is their Constitutional Right. Why are their rights to define the laws and Constitution of Utah not worthy of Equal Protection? When democracy in Utah can be trumped so effortlessly, simply because three couples sue for gay marriage, why should anyone participate in a ballot measure, ever again?

It also raises the question of ‘why not everywhere?’ If a single Judge can fundamentally change what is the clearly defined will of one state’s population, what is stopping that same thing from happening to the entire nation? How is Utah’s Constitutional amendment defining marriage as only being possible for one man and one woman, any less unequal than the same rule in any other state? What makes Shelby’s ruling restricted to the borders of Utah, if it is based in a Federal amendment?

The answer to that question is State Autonomy. The people of individual states are afforded the right, Constitutionally, to define, develop and vote democratically what social rules they wish to live under. Establishing precedents where social engineering can be enacted by Judicial caveat, carries implications far beyond just redefining marriage.

While the LGBT community at large – and the political Left, in general – is loudly celebrating today, how might they feel when some 3.4 percent segment of the population manages to embolden a judge, who holds that same power? What if that judge  redefines one of the most fundamental aspects of their entire culture? Rules perhaps that laws against “gay bashing” contradict the 1st Amendment, and unilaterally strikes them down? That is the kind of precedent being established, here.

Marriage is a fundamentally religious concept, which has been recognized by governments all through history as the most basic building block of Community. Something they have encouraged and promoted as the best way to foster peace and prosperity for every citizen. Publicly proclaiming that a man and a woman have pledged themselves to one another until one of them should die, is the binding cornerstone of the Nuclear Family. Which is in turn the binding cornerstone of the rest of humanity’s social contracts, like community and society.

Every state in the union has its own, unique personality and subculture. People live in – or move to – particular states, so they can enjoy the company of people with similar backgrounds, outlooks or values. Rural Wisconsin farmers do not live in Manhattan style high-rise condominiums, nor should they have to. Freedom of Association means Americans have the right to live in communities which best reflect their personal social norms.

It may be time now, to engage in discussions about the definition of marriage. Enough people with enough political pull and media attention have set the question on the national table. Offering individual states, as is their right, the opportunity to vote as a population on how they wish to define marriage, makes absolutely perfect sense.

Forcing states to accept the demands of a minority so slender that its numbers amount to a rounding error, is the classic definition of Tyranny. No matter how well crafted and “reasonable” sounding the arguments are. Dictators rule against the will and consent of their subjects. America is still a Democratic Republic. Allowing gay marriage to trump public will in Utah, is not a step towards equality, it is a blow against democracy. How is that good for anyone?

Editorial by Ben Gaul

Sources:

Guardian Liberty Voice

CNN

Slate

20 Responses to "Gay Marriage in Utah Trumps Democracy"

  1. Arthur Sellers   December 23, 2013 at 4:51 pm

    Is there a reason that none of my replies are posted?

    Reply
  2. Wendy Davis Rich   December 22, 2013 at 10:12 pm

    This is all well and good until a judge votes to overthrow the same. Oh wait, that wouldn’t be okay, right? Let’s see, how about a judge in Washington (where gay marriage was just voted in) deciding he too will not abide by the voters decision and chose to outlaw this union again? That wouldn’t be okay, would it? Of course it wouldn’t, and neither is this! This destroys our democratic process (It’s not a dictatorship and this was put to the vote and was decidedly defeated) And it’s cool with those of you who gain, only because you gain; FOR NOW! But think about what is being lost, and you are willingly allowing it to happen!?! Think about the precedence being set for just a moment. This shouldn’t be okay with anyone! Washington’s governor did the same this same thing on her way out and now again in Utah. What the hell is going on people!?! Everyone is so self absorbed that they will sacrifice everything for their own agenda. Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead, as the ship is sinking! What the hell does our vote even mean then, if this can be done? Why vote at all if some yutz can decide he doesn’t like the way the vote went and overturn the decision? I damn sure wouldn’t want some judge to take the process into his own hands and overturn the vote here in Washington. NOT NO, BUT HELL NO! The voters spoke in November and made gay marriage legal here and that’s as it should be, by the voters! This was wrong! This will leave an awful legacy and set an unwanted precedence.

    Reply
  3. Piper Sellers   December 22, 2013 at 8:38 pm

    Mr. Gaul, rights are not something that should be voted on. You don’t want to get gay married, by all means, don’t get gay married. But you should not be able to tell others they can’t get gay married because it makes you feel icky.

    Reply
    • Ben Gaul   December 22, 2013 at 10:55 pm

      Piper. At any time and at any point in this article, did your read something I wrote which would lead you to believe I am in the least bit fearful, “icky” or fundamentally uncomfortable with some particular gay person or concept? If you did, please tell the delightful young men who own a hair salon I market for, and the lesbian couple I’ll be helping move this month. They’ll all get a good kick out of that.

      Or, did you simply read the title and decide -in the very soul of prejudiced behavior- that you knew who I am or what I feel?

      America has been voting on rights since before she was a country. States are CONSTITUTIONALLY guaranteed the right to vote on social issues. Voting on amendments to state constitutions, asking the PEOPLE of those states how they choose to define marriage, have happened dozens of times, just this past decade.

      SOME in the gay community want the Special Privilege of redefining the most basic union known to man: Man & Wife. The only RIGHT being “taken away” here is the right of a free people to know their votes count.

      Reply
      • Piper Sellers   December 23, 2013 at 12:11 pm

        Mr. Gaul, rights are just that. Rights. They are not options to be voted on. What did you not understand about that? Regardless of majority opinion, they should not decide minorities are not entitled to equal protect I under the law which would guarantee them equal rights.

        I’m glad you enjoyed your right to free speech, while denying someone else’s.

        Reply
      • Neil Cameron   December 23, 2013 at 1:39 pm

        “SOME in the gay community want the Special Privilege of redefining the most basic union known to man”

        Rubbish!
        There is no special privilege or right bestowed upon the gays. It is not the gays changing the law. The gays are not supreme dictators, they are not above the law and they do not have superior power over the legitimate governance mechanisms of state.
        It is legislature, judiciary and executive that is changing the definition.
        Your accusations are baseless.

        The only thing the gays have done is seek to be granted access to and the protections of marriage law. That access and protection cannot be denied, it is constitutionally guaranteed.

        Your “special privilege” and “the gays have done this or that” is no more than puerile bleating in the hope that you can convince some idiot out there that you are a persecuted victim.
        Get over yourself. We are all equal, no matter how hard you try to beat the gays down or prop the straights up.
        Stand up look a gay person eye to eye and acknowledge that you & the gay person are both citizens participating in the furthering, enhancement and strengthening of the civilization you are both part of.

        Reply
  4. Jim Mallett   December 22, 2013 at 4:26 pm

    I think me and my partner of 33 years are heading to Salt Lake to get ‘Gay married’.
    Payback for Utahs major funding of prop 8, which the courts have since said is unconstitutional.
    Or maybe Colorado City would be a good location.

    Reply
  5. joe terif   December 22, 2013 at 11:10 am

    “In (c)iting the 14th Amendment, Shelby seems to have completely overlooked the 10th. It reads “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.””

    The 14th Amendment IS the specific power delegated to the United States by the Constitution. You proved your own point that you weren’t trying to make…

    Reply
  6. Wayne Peterson   December 22, 2013 at 8:18 am

    Re-do your headline to read….”US Constitution Trumps Utah Mob Rule” and you will have correctly stated the holding!

    Reply
    • Greg   December 23, 2013 at 7:44 am

      How bout: MINORITY OF A MINORITY calls the shot! Maybe we should just give up voting. What’s the point??

      Reply
  7. Daniel   December 22, 2013 at 5:27 am

    We don’t live in a pure democracy. We live in a republic. In a pure democracy, you could hold votes at any time – whenever any two people who dislike an individual want to vote away that person’s rights, they could hold an immediate vote and then punish the individual they dislike. We live in a republic – a constitutional democracy, which means things such as Equal Protection under Law and Due Process ensure your neighbors don’t vote away all your rights and leave you to their mercy. The Founders said a constitutional democracy would eventually be destroyed because despotic men would seek to enshrine rights only for themselves and not for others. They warned against such an ultimate decline. It is child-like to claim that democracy was triumphed by a judge, when that judge is upholding the U.S. Constitution which protects everyone’s rights – not just the rights of people like you, or people you like.

    Reply
  8. Steven John (@airtimer)   December 21, 2013 at 11:09 pm

    they waited for a new generation to come up in a culture fully accepting and quiet in this regard in order to fabricate a 50/50 scenario to mold minds to their liking and cultivate power from. Just look away from every political aspect of this. Modern Christian marriage was derived from gay couples in the Old testament (David and Jonathan & Ruth and Naomi). Then Jesus said in the new testament “there is no longer slave or free, male or female.” The state is trying to protect the church. Both are hiding the truth.

    Reply
  9. Gilbert Florens   December 21, 2013 at 8:15 pm

    Since When The Democratic Process Is a Justification to Permit Majorities to Discriminate Relentlessly, Unjustifiably and Unrightfully Over the Rights of Minorities, Specially those that are already proven to be Blatantly Abused and Marginalized.

    Reply
  10. Greg   December 21, 2013 at 6:23 pm

    Please correct:
    siting should be citing.

    <>

    Reply
    • Ben Gaul   December 21, 2013 at 6:38 pm

      Thanks. I hate it when small details slip through the cracks. I’ll let my editor know.

      Reply
  11. Mike Coleman   December 21, 2013 at 6:17 pm

    Fix your typos, it’ll help your anemic credibility.

    Oh, and slavery was fine and dandy up until someone decided it wasn’t.

    Reply
    • Ben Gaul   December 21, 2013 at 6:44 pm

      You’re right about slavery, Mike.

      Some day in the not too distant future, we’ll be saying that about abortion as well. A national stain as horrible as slavery, which was also imposed on the voting public by nothing more than judicial fiat.

      At least the Founders had the good sense to structure the Constitution in such a way that not a single word had to be changed, when Slavery was abolished.

      Reply
      • Don Lodsky   December 22, 2013 at 12:48 am

        Perhaps you forget the Three-Fifths Compromise, found in Article 1, Section 2, Paragraph 3 of the United States Constitution:

        “Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.”

        These words, among others, needed to be struck from the Constitution upon the abolition of slavery.

        (P.S. The use of capitals in a similar way to 18th century colonial Americans does not make your opinion more distinguished or logically sound)

        Reply
        • Ben Gaul   December 22, 2013 at 1:12 am

          You seem to be unaware of why the Anti-slavery Founders insisted that particular rule be included.

          Indeed, it was anti-slavery delegate James Wilson of Pennsylvania who proposed the three-fifths compromise. Also, this clause did not include blacks generally, as free blacks were understood to be free persons.

          The slave-holding South wished to count their non-voting slave population when tallying up how many Congressmen would be sent to Washington. Senators are restricted to two per state, while Congressmen are numbered according to population.

          They would have been able to flood Congress with pro-slavery delegates, crushing any attempts at writing bills designed to end slavery.

          That 3/5ths clause has been misinterpreted by tunnel vision liberals since before Democrat President Lyndon Baines Johnson was recorded on a White House taped (and saved) conversation claiming, “I’ll have them niggers voting Democratic for the next two hundred years.”

          Perhaps you’ll listen Frederick Douglass, who believed that the government created by the Constitution “was never, in its essence, anything but an anti-slavery government.”

          Douglass, as you may or may not be aware, was born into slavery in Maryland but escaped and eventually became a prominent spokesman for free blacks in the abolitionist movement. “Abolish slavery tomorrow, and not a sentence or syllable of the Constitution need be altered.”

          He wrote in 1864:

          “It was purposely so framed as to give no claim, no sanction to the claim, of property in man. If in its origin slavery had any relation to the government, it was only as the scaffolding to the magnificent structure, to be removed as soon as the building was completed.”

          This point is underscored by the fact that, although slavery was abolished by constitutional amendment, not one word of the original text was amended or deleted.

          Reply
          • James Spaith Jr.   December 23, 2013 at 11:39 am

            Hi there — I like your response immediately above regarding the 3/5 rule.

            But the main article is wrong. You have a point when citing the 10th Amendment — however, as another reader noted, you’re doing so without considering the 14th.

            And as to the respondent who suggested the “icky” factor — there really is no other argument against gay marriage. Marriage is NOT a construct of the Judeo-Christian world, was NOT “created” by any one person or being, and has been defined as a whole lot of things very different from our current general understanding of ‘two people who love each other and want to create a family, which can but doesn’t necessarily mean they want to bear or raise children”.

            This particular judgement may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. If the question of whether Utah’s voters can amend their Constitution, to specifically disenfranchise people from a part of our general society’s culture, should go to the SCOTUS, we all know what will happen. Let’s let that happen soon, and marriage will be equal across the country. 5 years hence, no one will think twice about it.

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