I support gay marriage. And I’m glad to see that a lot of states are
considering, or have already passed, amendments to their state constitutions
forbidding gay marriage. My position isn’t inconsistent, because there’s a
deeper issue involved.
What is the function of an electoral system? You can argue about that all
day, but it turns out that the deep purpose is to convince people to accept
that they’ve lost. We, as citizens of a republic, have made a compact with each
other that we will make certain decisions collectively through some combination
of voting and representation, and we know that inevitably the process will make
at least some decisions that we as individuals despise.
But our compact with one another is that if the process was reasonably honest
and if everyone participated, the losers will concede defeat. Of course, they
may try to work within the system to change those decisions, and that has
happened many times. But the compact is that such decisions change because the
majority agree with the change, and the activist minority will work to convince
the majority that change is needed, and will accept their defeat in the mean
Some activists in this country have been breaking this compact. It’s been a
particular problem with leftists over the last 35 years. Instead of trying to
convince the majority that certain things should change, they’ve been making an
end-run around the electoral system and getting those changes made via activist
Irrespective of the merits of individual decisions, the basic problem with
this is that it cheats the electorate by forbidding them from participating in
the process of collectively making those decisions. And the "losers" don’t
concede defeat, because they never got their chance to participate in the
I support legal abortion but I think that Roe v. Wade was a dreadful
decision. And the abortion issue is a perfect example of the kind of thing I’m
talking about, because 33 years later the issue is still contentious. If it had
been settled through the electoral system in 1973, it would have faded out by
now. But because it was decided by what I really do think of as judicial
usurpation of the electoral process, those who oppose abortion have never let go
of the issue.
And so it is with gay marriage. Activists in favor of gay marriage are
contemptuous of most of their fellow citizens and are impatient. They have
deliberately eschewed that social compact and have taken to the courts, and have
managed to get two State Supreme Courts now to declare that gay marriage is a
right and thus legal.
I think gay marriage should be legal, but this is not the way to go about it.
And that’s why I’m happy to see electoral backlash. Gay marriage is now legal by
judicial usurpation in two states, but it is now explicitly banned in a lot more
states than that. Many, indeed I would conjecture most, of the voters who helped
pass those bans don’t actually feel very strongly about gay marriage as an issue
one way or another.
But they care deeply about that social compact and are damned if
they’re going to let elitist activists run rough-shod over the system that way.
Why am I glad, then, to see those laws and amendments get passed? Because
they can be changed, but they won’t be changed by judges. Leftist activists in
favor of gay marriage who have been trying to violate that social compact will
now be forced to embrace it — because in states where one-man-one-woman laws
have been passed, it will be the only way they can get those laws changed.
I think abortion should be legal, and I think Roe v. Wade should be
overturned. Then this country will actually engage the issue. The social compact
will kick in. Advocates for both sides will make their cases, and the voters and
their representatives will, eventually, come to some sort of conclusion about
That’s how the system is supposed to work. And that’s a lot more important to
me than gay marriage or legal abortion, though I support both. If the price of
legal gay marriage and legal abortion is destruction of that social compact,
then it’s too high.