"War is the greatest threat to public health." - Gino Strada, Italian war surgeon and founder of the UN-recognized Italian NGO Emergency

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Proposition 8 - The Tyranny of the Majority


The last time I checked, the United States of America was still a democracy, "a state of society characterized by formal equality of rights and privileges" (Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2009). One might rightly wonder, observing recent events in California surrounding the passage of Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment (by voter initiative) eliminating the right of same-sex couples to marry, what is happening to America's democracy these days.

In a nation such as the United States, where a majority of the people can pass laws (such as California's Proposition 8) that apply to everyone, there must be a mechanism to determine whether such laws are reasonable and fair to all, or unreasonable, unfair and intolerable to a minority (as is the case with Prop. 8). Democracy is meant to protect individual rights, and it would seem that in the case of Prop. 8, a minority group's (gays and lesbians) right to marry is on the chopping block.

It seems self evident that the majority is applying a moral standard outside of that which the government, a secular institution, - we are not yet a theocracy in the U.S. - would use to determine whether such a law would even be considered. Of course, the government does mix law and morality, but only to the extent that it applies a moral standard to our mutual protection, such as laws against murder, torture, rape or stealing. The test then... Does it hurt anyone else?

So just what is the problem with lesbian and gay people marrying and raising children? Does it hurt anyone? I think not! So why did so many (Christian) people spend so much time, energy and money to pass a law that seems patently unconstitutional? At the heart of this nation is a commitment to equality for everyone. And so I am hopeful that the legal challenge will hold up, and Prop. 8 will be invalidated, thus protecting a minority group from the tyranny of the majority.

As for those who brought this initiative, as well as the majority of voters (many who evidently claim Christianity) who voted for the initiative, I ask them just what God they worship who tells them to treat any other human being as anything less than a child of God, fully equal in the eyes of God? I have to wonder if most of those same people have spoken out as loudly to prevent the invasion of sovereign nations and the killing and terrorizing of their citizens. Have they spoken out against the death penalty? Have they spoken out against so many injustices that their God (through the lessons taught by Jesus) taught them through his words and actions? Have they?

It is quite likely that America's founders understood the tyranny wrought by Christianity over the centuries through inquisitions and witch trials as they crafted a government that would be separated from religious influence (at least in terms of making laws). Although imperfect, our nation upholds the value that all people are created equal and should enjoy equal rights under the law. Anything less would be an injustice, and there can be no peace without justice.

Towards Peace,


P.S. - You can learn about the challenge to Proposition 8 by clicking here.

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