Happenstance

August 5th, 2010

Inspired by Judge strikes California’s ban on same-sex marriage (Washington Post 8/05/10), and the reaction thereto below.

“Under our Constitution, the definition and meaning of marriage is a decision left in the hands of the people, not given to that small fraction of the population who happen to be judges.” – NOM Chairman Robert George


A “small fraction of the population” happens to be judges.

They happen to study hard and do well in college.

They happen to apply to and get into law school.

They happen to be make it through those grueling years of studying the legal system.


They happen to pass the bar exam.

They happen to get a job in a law office or government legal department.

They happen to rise to the top of their profession.

They happen to be nominated by the President of the United States to be a federal judge.


They happen to be subjected to strenuous background investigations

And Senatorial hearings to determine if they’re qualified.

They happen to be confirmed by a two-thirds vote of the United States Senate.

They happen to sit on the bench for years, hearing cases and gaining further experience.


They happen to draw a particular case.

They happen to sit in court day after day, listening to testimony.

They happen to carefully study the law and legal precedent.

They happen to come to a carefully considered decision


I wonder if you’ll happen to change your stance

When public opinion shifts to views at which you look askance?

***

Yes, judges sometimes make mistakes and I myself have been critical of individual court decisions (read my Supreme Court series for more on that, and the Citizens United decision in particular), but that’s the nature of the beast: every judicial decision is by definition going to going to have at least one person that doesn’t like it. Such disagreements notwithstanding, it’s ludicrous to refer to decisions by the “small fraction of the population who happen to be judges,” a statement which in and of itself shows a basic misunderstanding of our Constitution and our legal system. Though we may disagree with some of those decisions, that legal system is still a big part of what has made this country great (no, not perfect, but still a pretty great country).

By the way Bob, I happen to have a copy of the actual  Constitution, and there’s nothing in there about the definition of marriage being “a decision left in the hands of the people.” What it does however say is this:

“No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”  — 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

And that, Bob, is why people have the right to marry the consenting adult of their choice, whether you like it or not. And a propos the “will of the people” (which you cite as Gospel, unless you disagree with it), Prop 8 passed by a whopping 2 percent margin, and even that margin was achieved only after a massive misinformation campaign by NOM and other out-of-state anti-marriage equality groups. Polls both before and since Prop 8’s passage have shown that the majority of Californians favor marriage equality. But even if they didn’t, the beauty of our Constitutional Republic is that individual rights are not subject to majority approval (read Separate and Unequal in DC and Give ‘Em Hell Rachel for more about that).

Here’s your theme music for today, Happenstance (from the CD of the same name) by Fozzy (the video is a medley of scenes from Lost—no connection there to Prop 8, except maybe the comparable opaqueness of Lost’s story line and Prop 8 supporters’ arguments, and the video clip at the end commenting on two guys’ ability to care for a baby). I initially chose this song because the title ties in nicely to my own, but the lyrics (read them below) are strangely appropriate as well.

 

Happenstance by Fozzy
In days like these we find ourselves searching for answers
A lack of faith eating us to the bone, like a cancer
And will you be there when it’s over
And will you be there when it all comes down
And will you be there when it’s over
And will you be there when it all comes down
It’s too late to change what has happened
Try to decide your reaction
Cause it’s too late to change what has happened
Try to decide your reaction
And I see, but I’m blinded
And I see, but my fate still finds me
And I see, but I’m blinded
And I see, but my fate still finds me
Faith in who we are
In times like these we need the eyes of the future
To deliver the fate of man can we all be saved and not wither
And will you be there when it’s over
And will you be there when it all comes down
And will you be there when it’s over
And will you be there when it all comes down
It’s too late to change what has happened
Try to decide your reaction
Cause it’s too late to change what has happened
Try to decide your reaction
And I see, but I’m blinded
And I see, but my fate still finds me
And I see, but I’m blinded
And I see, but my fate still finds me
Faith in who we are
It’s too late to change what has happened
Try to decide your reaction
Cause it’s too late to change what has happened
Try to decide your reaction
And I see, but I’m blinded
And I see, but my fate still finds me
And I see, but I’m blinded
And I see, but my fate still finds me
And I see, but I’m blinded
And I see, but my fate still finds me
And I see, but I’m blinded
And I see, but my fate still finds me
Faith in who we are

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3 Responses to “Happenstance”

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