Michael Daniel NYT, p A20 – Romney Pushes Vote on Same-Sex Marriage 11/20/2006 Governor Mitt Romney of Massachusetts

will ask the Massachusetts high court to hold a public referendum on same sex marriage. The Massachusetts legislature was given a petition to ban same sex marriage that was signed by 170,000 citizens. The legislature refused to vote on the bill. Governor Romney says that the legislature’s inaction on the bill is unconstitutional and therefore the state high court needs to set it up as a public referendum. Defenders of gay marriage said that it is unconstitutional to threaten the rights of a minority with a, “popularity contest.” Governor Romney said that the inaction of the legislature changed the government of Massachusetts into a tyranny. He defined tyranny as, “the imposition of the will of those in power on the people.” His argument is false because the inaction of the legislature did not create a new government. People were not replaced in government. The constitution still stands. Elected officials are still answerable to their constituents. His definition of tyranny is also wrong. Aristotle defined tyranny as, “a kind of monarchy which has in view the interests of the monarch only.” If he meant that the legislature had only their own interests in mind when they decided to not vote then he might have done better to use the term ‘oligarchy’ or ‘aristocracy’. Government imposing their will upon their people is not unique to tyranny. All forms of government impose their will upon their people. The definition of ‘tyranny’ is a fine point, though, since we see that the larger argument that contains it is false.

Same sex marriage should remain legal in Massachusetts. I agree with what defenders of same sex marriage are trying to do, even if their wording is inaccurate. They referred to a public democratic referendum as a, “popularity contest.” A public referendum is a valid way to pass a bill. Granted, it is also a way to bypass the legislature, which is somewhat problematic. Why should the people pay the legislature to vote on bills if the people have to vote on bills themselves when divisive bills like this come up? The legislature should have done their job and voted the bill down instead of stalling it in committee. Same sex marriage is a way for conservatives in America to rally their base and generate talking points for speeches. In some circles these talking points are referred to as ‘political capital’. It is unfortunate that conservatives are using the denial of rights to an already disadvantaged minority in order to gain power. It’s too bad that religious conservatives who would vote for this bill are not ethical enough to vote it down. To me this is an example of the distinction between religiosity and ethics. The confusing part of this for me is that we just had an election. This kind of stunt usually happens right before an election, not right after one. Then again, Governor Romney is considering running for president. He might be cleaning house before his national campaign. I also don’t understand how the conservatives are so good at campaigning. I’m a democrat. With the exception of the most recent election we aren’t generally known for being good at campaigning. This might be a way to rally the base to get them fired up so that they can start complaining about the new Democratic party controlled congress and senate. Democrats don’t normally campaign like that but maybe Republicans do.