Saturday, February 12, 2011

Stirring up a Reaction

Rabid anti-gay remarks during committee hearings have flipped one Maryland state senator from nay to yay on a bill to legalize gay marriage.
I am going to vote for gay marriage," [Jim] Brochin [D] said. "I'm going to vote for gay marriage because the stumbling block with the word 'marriage' is my stumbling block, and it's my problem."

"I'm not going to be part of the vilification of gays on the senate floor," Brochin said. "I'm uncomfortable with the word 'marriage' but I am much more uncomfortable with the vilification of gays and homosexuality."

What delicious irony. And, I should say, great credit to Senator Brochin, for looking deep into what's going on and deciding to not let his own inner conflict align him with merchants of hate and discrimination.

The measure now has 21 of the 24 votes it needs to pass; there are at least 5 members still undecided.

Any law would likely be subject to an attempt by opponents to reverse it via referendum -- a move which has been the bane of democratically-passed gay marriage laws in the past.


Cycle Cyril said...

Which process is more democratic?

A bill passed by the representatives of the demos or a referendum passed by the demos themselves?

Referenda may be the bane of gay marriage laws but they are not the bane of the democratic process.

PG said...

Nope, just the bane of the republican form of government guaranteed to the states by the U.S. Constitution.

Art. IV, Sec. 4: The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government

If referenda are always better, why not have all laws passed that way? People can petition to have proposed laws put on an annual ballot, and voters can decide on them. There'd still be an executive bureaucracy to administer the laws; just no need of a legislature to make them.

Cycle Cyril said...

Referenda are not the bane of the republican form of government either and not precluded by the constitution.

Referenda, like laws passed by representatives, are not better or worse as a whole. But they are another form of expression of the will of the people within and along with a representative government of a civil society.

Pallavi said...

I didn't say referenda were precluded by the Constitution. However, referenda are inherently in opposition to the republican form of government. That's why the United States both federally and at the level of the individual states is more precisely described as a republic, not a democracy.

David Schraub said...

Holy shit, did "Pallavi" just come out of the (proverbial blogger) closet?

Cycle Cyril said...

Not opposition, Pallavi, but a supplement to our representative government in several of the various states.

PG said...

"a supplement to our representative government in several of the various states."

How can it be a "supplement" if it's done to subvert the actions of the representative government? That's like saying doxycycline is a "supplement" to the malaria parasite. Nor is the Constitutional amendment process a "supplement" to the Supreme Court; it exists in part as a check or corrective to judicial decisions.

Cycle Cyril said...

A referendum is supplement in the sense it is another way for the people to express themselves.

It is not subversion, especially when the elected representatives no longer act as the voice of the people but independent of the people. And no, the representatives are not to act independent of what the people think or want.

Ultimately the people rule within the limits of civil society.

I guess you don't like when the demos get in the way of their betters.

PG said...


If you really think piecemeal stabs at law-making are better than having to sit down and think about how it all works and fits together, may I introduce you to California, where voters are expected to make the tough decisions but can't figure out what the proposals mean. Moreover, consider whether, in a system of non-mandatory voting, the results of a referendum always reflect the will of the entire electorate rather than that of an especially motivated portion thereof. (In contrast, most legislative votes get a massively higher rate of participation from the elected legislators than most referenda do from voters.)