G.W. Bush has declared his opposition to gay marriage–and InkWell reader K.M. writes to support California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in his efforts to stop the taxpayer-funded wedding-license charade in San Francisco, a charade that has now spread to other cities (see Terminating the Gay-Marriage Circus, Feb. 23):
“Mayor [Gavin] Newsom of San Francisco decides he is above the overwhelming vote of the people of his area and issues marriage certificates to gay couples. He is above the law; he likes playing judge. The county clerk of Sandoval County New Mexico has begun issuing certificates to same sex- couples. I guess she’s above the law as well. Chicago Mayor [Richard] Daly announces his support for allowing gays to marry in his city. We didn’t know that the city of Chicago belonged just to the mayor. Perhaps these progressive-thinking elected officials need to go back and reread their job descriptions! Why has it become the ‘in’ thing to break the law or go against the vote of the people?…What are we teaching our youth about law, morality and respecting our Constitution?”
Good questions, K.M. And David Blankenhorn, a family scholar with the Marriage Movement, cogently refutes Newsom’s spurious claim that his defiance of California’s law defining marriage as between a man and a woman is justified because the law violates the state constititution’s equal-protection guarantees. Here’s Blankenhorn, writing from the Marriage Movement’s excellent blog:
“The [California] constitution is silent on the issue [of gay marriage], and existing state law on the matter could not be clearer. So, Newsom arguing that the state constitution supports his flouting of existing state law could literally be used by any official to justify any unlawful action. Want to arrest someone who you don’t like? Want to disband the city council? Just say that in your personal opinion, what you are doing is supported by the constitution. It’s a way of pretending to say something, when in fact all you are really saying is, ‘I am going to break this law.’
“The only valid way to contest the constitutionality of a state law is through the courts or through a referendum, not through selective acts of officially sanctioned law-breaking. And again, if Newsome is morally unwilling to enforce existing law while campaigning politically to have it changed, he should resign and fight for the change he seeks from outside the system, including through civil disobedience. If people of good will cannot agree that officials sworn to uphold the law should uphold it–sorry, it won’t work simply to shout, ‘The constitution lets me do it!”–then we are in trouble.”
That’s right on. And it’s why responsible gay leaders such as Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank haven’t stinted in their criticism of Newsom’s grandstanding.