Hats off to California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for taking steps to terminate the gay-marriage circus currently on display in San Francisco. The entire panoply of city officials in San Francisco, including Mayor Gavin Newsom, the city attorney’s office, and even a few judges, have decided they don’t like the California law that states that a marriage can take place only between a man and a woman. So instead of waiting for their legal challenge to the law to move through the courts in due order, they’ve decided to go ahead and issue marriage licenses to gays and lesbians, attracting a line of some 6,000 of the same waiting to pick up the licenses at City Hall and then go through a quickie outdoor wedding ceremony for the benefit of the press. Newsom himself married–or purported to marry–one of the couples.
Aside from the pity I feel for the average heterosexual Joes and Janes in San Francisco (if there are any, that is) who now have to wait for days for their perfectly legal marriage licenses, my opinion is that the San Francisco circus amounts to a deliberate defiance of not only the democratic process in California but of the American constitutional system of checks and balances that requires public officials and judges to enforce the law until it is changed.
Sorry, Andrew Sullivan, but I don’t view Newsom or anyone else connected with this charade as latter-day Rosa Parkses. It took genuine courage for Parks to refuse to move to the back of the bus in the early-1950s South. It takes zilch courage for Newsom, et al., backed by a sympathetic press and heading a city with a huge gay population and a votership that is 66 percent in favor of gay marriage, to decide to defy California law. The same people, by the way, who laud Newsom for his supposed bravery are the ones who screamed (and rightly, in my opinion) for the head of former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore when he defied a court order to remove an image of the Ten Commandments from his courthouse.
Furthermore, I find Newsom’s argument that California’s Defense of Marriage Act is on a par with former Southern anti-miscegenation laws absurd. Saying that people of different races can’t marry each other is a genuine–and impermissible–restriction on marriage. Saying that only a man and a woman can marry each other isn’t a restriction on marriage; it’s the definition of marriage, a definition that has prevailed since the very dawn of human civilization. Perhaps Californians or other Americans would like to change this definition someday, so that marriage will mean something else. That’s fine. We have a democratic process in this country, and if the pro-gay marriage advocates believe they have a reasonable argument, they should go to work on the rest of us with their powers of persuasion–or try to convince the Supreme Court that the millennia-old current definition of marriage is somehow unconstitutional.
Meanwhile, let’s hope that Schwarzenegger’s efforts in California can restore some order and some respect for the judgment of the people of California. I’m for making a few arrests–not of the hapless gay couples who are merely taking up San Francisco officials on their open invitation–but of the officials themselves. Starting with Newsom and the San Francisco judges who are supposed to be sworn to uphold the law.