Lessons from Prop. 8: why we shouldn't put our civil rights up for a popular vote

[Video Link] "Dear God, we should not be putting civil rights issues to a popular vote to be subject to the sentiments, the passions of the day. No minority should have their rights subject to the passions and sentiments of the majority. This is a fundamental bedrock of what our nation stands for." -- Newark, N.J. Mayor Cory Booker


      1.  Except in California where voters can put measures directly on the ballot (such as Prop 8).

        Democracy is three wolves and a sheep voting on what’s for dinner. A Republic is three wolves and a sheep voting on who gets to decide what’s for dinner.

        This is why the USA has  a constitution and a judicial body to determine if laws adhere to it.

        1. That piece of paper and judicial body? Those and any complaints will get you detained indefinitely and a cup of coffee.

          You’re about 50 years too late with that comment, Things have change since you entered the time machine.

        2. Correction: Three wolves and a sheep voting to decide which wolf gets to decide what’s for dinner. Sheep never manage to get on the ballot.

    1. When did we upgrade to articulate politicians?  I, for one, welcome our new Vin Diesel-looking, able to answer questions intelligently and with passion overlords.

  1. When I read “No minority should have their rights subject to the passions and sentiments of the majority.”, what if the minority were MPAA members and the majority was just about everybody else?
    So what was the message? Democracy is OK as long as you get the right result?

    1. Are you conflating sexual orientation with being a lobbyist? Is this really a thing I’m seeing?

      There is absolutely no comparison between civil rights and large industry groups trying to change laws to benefit their business plan. To attempt that comparison is really, really dumb.

      1. Are you conflating sexual orientation with being a lobbyist?

        Conflation is how trolls reproduce.  Why do you think they’re in such a shitty mood all the time?

    2. There may have a point you were trying to make there, but I’ll be damned if I can figure out what it was.

      What rights are you referring to that MPAA members have or don’t have apart from non-members?

      And the message is merely this: 

      “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.”

      By not allowing someone BY LAW to marry the person they love, regardless of their sex, states are abridging their privileges.

      1. Corporations are people, my friend.  If AT&T wants to marry Comcast, why should they need special approval?

        1. Ok, fine. I’ll bite. Even if corporations are people, that doesn’t explain the trolls initial comment about the MPAA. There aren’t separate contract for some corporations and not for others.

          Why can I enter into a legally binding contract regarding my wealth and offspring with a woman but not with a man? Why do our tax laws see a difference based on what I’m packing between my legs?

          1. If we’re going to apply equal protection to corporations, as the Supreme Court has supported, the fact is that not all corporations are being treated equal under the law.  Very large corporations (let’s call them mega-Americans) don’t have the same rights that small ones do to enter civil unions.  No regulator would bat an eye if David’s Bridal wants to merge with Bella’s Boutique.  But NBC and Comcast?  Let’s study that carefully and see if we approve. Outrageous!  The point is that we’re all on the same side apart from the ‘love’ non sequitur of your previous message .  Except that, looking at the court’s record, corporations are more likely to be covered by the 14th amendment than gays.

  2. Why do we not instead use this idea to our advantage?
    Lets have a majority vote for what religions get to stay, they gave us a wonderful roadmap of how to blame all of the ills of society on a group that has nothing to do with those things.
    Shall we start voting religions out of the country, will that make it clear what it is like to have closed minded people who hate you for no good reason getting to make decisions about your life and what you can do?
    They always say “my people” are attacking their religious freedoms, they swung first.

    Much like the Atheists who got fed up with hearing about the “War” on Christmas they were supposedly running, decided this last year to actually declare war.  Amazing how all of these religious types were shocked at anyone with the audacity to challenge their rights… shame they still didn’t get the clue.

  3. But… but… but what about OUR rights to kick around people that our magic book says are icky? Now you’re violating our rights! You bullies!

    1. They must have read a different magic book than I was forced to read as a kid because I remember reading some radical socialist concepts in the magic book about giving away all your possessions to the poor and about how the meek shall inherit the earth and how you’re supposed to love your neighbor as yourself even when your neighbor is your worst enemy. Maybe if they read and applied more of the teachings in the magic book instead of cheerypicking verses to justify persecuting people they don’t like or ripping off others in the name of God, they wouldn’t have such a persecution complex because so many people wouldn’t perceive them as bigoted, hypocritical fuckwads.

        1. Do you honestly think that “party affiliation” and “political ideology” doesn’t have anything to do with religious belief?  Are you that naive?

          1. The link I cite, should you decide to click it, is from a freedom-for-same-sex-couples-to-marry organization. Thought there were some pretty informative facts in there and not naive at all.

          2. Just because one doesn’t go to church doesn’t mean they aren’t basing their views on religious belief.

          3. Like David Cameron, who describes himself as a “vaguely practicing” Christian who’s “full of doubts” in the same speech where he suggests that UK politics should be driven by Christian values?

        2. Yes, those reasons are valid. However, the great decider was several million dollars of mormon influence..

          1. Well, yes and no. No on 8 spent $44 million; Yes on 8 spent $38 million. True, Prop 8 could not have passed without the religious vote. But it would not have passed with the religious vote alone.

          2.  Teller,

            “But it would not have passed with the religious vote alone.”

            I agree. Bigotry doesn’t necessarily have to derive from religious beliefs. Sometimes it’s just selfish prejudice and homophobia.

  4. Well obviously none of you should get to vote on what’s right.  You should just all do as I say and everyone will be happy!

  5. Putting to popular vote whether millionaires should be taxed is the majority deciding on the rights of a minority.  I’m not necessarily against a millionaires’ tax, but putting it up to a popular vote also seems quite odd.  

    1. False equivalencies for the motherfucking lose.

      Taxes =/= civil rights.

      Please see the posts made above by sincarne and Scott Frazer, which you conveniently ignored.

    2. Firstly, nearly half of congressmen are millionaires.  I am pretty sure that their rights are fully represented.  Second, there is a difference between civil liberties and “other stuff” like tax law, which is what his point was.  Third, while one can’t suddenly stop being gay, you certainly can stop being a millionaire at anytime.  I will personally volunteer to un-millionaire anyone who wants it.  Unlike praying the gay away, I am pretty sure that my method of “transfer the funds into my account” will be 100% effective.  Tax levels of millionaires is not a civil liberties issue.

      Finally, and this was the real point, my snark aside, he was arguing that when you recognize that civil liberties are being violated, fuck the majority. Waiting for the majority of southerns to treat African-Americans like humans would have dragged the civil rights movement out decades. Hell, we still have Jim Crow laws in some states of the federal government and the judiciary didn’t curb stomp the will of the majority and restore civil liberty to black Americans.

      Gay rights is in the same place.  It is clearly a civil liberties issue.  It is time for legislators to man up and extend the same civil liberties that every straight couple has to gay couples, bigots be damned.  I’ll take civil liberty in the US any way I can get it, including popular vote.  The point is that the legislators and governors that cede the granting of basic civil liberties to the sentiments of the majority are fucking cowards and pieces of shit.

  6. But getting back to the post here, damn that was awesome!  I got serious chills when he got to the good part.

  7. Proposal for a new state constitutional amendment:

    Only marriage between non-Mormons and non-Catholics is valid or recognized in California.

  8. Cory Booker is the awesome.  During last year’s massive snowfall that caught NYC off guard, he was out with a shovel clearing off sidewalks and using twitter to coordinate the road crews with the populace.

    Bloomberg’s people made sure the plows cleared the streets they lived on and got to everyone else when they could several days later.

  9. This is a much more fundamental problem than Prop 8 – although Prop 8 is an excellent illustration of this problem.

    We are raised with democracy as a religion. The idea that if a majority supports something it’s OK. 

    Democracy is useful for collective decision making in a body that already has a legitimate authority. 

    A majority is not, however, in and of itself enough to create authority.

    This is the fundamental problem with how the west is organized today, this false idea of democracy. 

    A majority vote does not confer authority. Consensus does, but that is difficult to reach. We need to create a new basis for society, because this one is failing.

  10. Well said. Its refreshing to hear a politician in NJ speak with such intelligence, meanwhile that dope Christie is going to be advanced as a presidential candidate four years from now.

    1. “that dope Christie is going to be advanced as a presidential candidate four years from now.”

      Please.  He is way, way too fat.  I’m not trying to fat-shame, just stating fact.  He’ll get torn to pieces for being so fat.

        1. Yeah, and if Newt had any hope of getting the nomination, his health would come up.

          I could be wrong, of course, but the health (and age) of John McCain was a big negative against him during his 2008 campaign.

          Also, dammit, I can’t seem to remember who this lady was, but she’s hispanic, and along with her being hispanic (OH NOES!), the fact that she wasn’t skinny, was a huge negative towards her becoming senator or something?  This was back in 2008 or 2009. Does anyone have ANY IDEA who I’m talking about? :P

          OF COURSE, I also wouldn’t be surprised if Christie’s and Newt’s weight didn’t become a big deal.  Because fat women are icky but fat men are totally fine in our culture.

          1. Generally, with men, the taller candidate wins. Doesn’t hurt to be good-looking. We haven’t had a physically repulsive President since Nixon. Probably because US elections are a popularity contest.

          2. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor is diabetic.  Someone must have made a minor stink about it or I wouldn’t know that.

          3. YES, thank you taintofevil — that’s who I was thinking about.  And yes, there was a big stink about it.  She was too fat.  Diabetic.  Etc.  Of course, no one made a peep about all the fat men in politics, but hey … women should always be skinny and hot.

      1. Well if he’ll go down for superficial reasons, it ought to be because he sounds like a dope, which in this case is symptomatic of the fact that he is a dope.

  11. The argument is fundamentally over whether this is a civil rights issue.

    Those who feel that it is will use question-begging emotionally powerful rhetoric like this. And it will capture the imagination of some who agree with the basic premise that civil rights should not be up for a popular vote. But it doesn’t touch on the central debate.

    Christie has said he will veto any legislation. Why not campaign hard to convince the people that it is a civil rights issue (as this well-spoken Mayor asserts)? Maybe that is in fact what he is seeking to do. It would certainly make him a savvier character if his words were intended to convey more than their face value.

    If it’s a matter of civil rights protected by the Constitution, continue on the judicial route. But there is nothing wrong of convincing the people. That is how many civil rights issues were decided in the past. It’s not a terrible or shameful thing.

  12. People really need to read more Socrates. It is a bit sad that he anticipated these arguments centuries ago, and we can’t even make coherent arguments about the argument.

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