Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Define "Democracy"

I've rarely been one to express comment on political opinion or legal issues, but as a student of history, I can't help but feel something about a statement I read today on Yahoo news from an Associated Press article regarding the California amendment against gay marriage.

Evan Wolfson, a gay-rights lawyer who heads a group called Freedom to Marry, was quoted in this article as saying: "There's something deeply wrong with putting the rights of a minority up to a majority vote. If this were being done to almost any other minority, people would see how un-American this is."

I'd like to ask Mr. Wolfson: "What is a democracy, if not the opportunity for a majority to express its opinions, whether or not the minority accepts or approves of those opinions?" By definition, a democracy is the rule of the majority of people (see Our founding Fathers weren't interested in the preferences of the few over the declaration of the many. Isn't that why they declared independence from Britain in the first place? So that laws could not be made that were not supported or approved by the majority of citizens?

I'm certain that Mr. Wolfson is differentiating "rights" vs. "preferences," as the basis of his argument, but I even question the idea that it is anyone's "right" to marry. It is a privilege, perhaps, but if it is a "right" then 12 year-olds should not be required to have parental approval, because it is their "right" as a human being. Rights are limited to those things that are inalienable for all humanity (e.g. life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness) regardless of age, race, etc. I don't remember marriage listed among those in the Declaration of Independence. And, as a student of history, I prefer to stick to those things our founding Fathers included without assuming what they might have meant. And for those things that require further clarification (such as the inclusion of the Bill of Rights and other amendments to the Constitution), I'll stick with the plan they concocted of majority rule by which we acquired those amendments.

Ultimately, the best news is that God alone is still sovereign, regardless of the opinions of the majority or minority people groups. So, until Mr. Wolfson is able to de-throne the Almighty, I'll rest assured tonight. Hope you will, too.

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