Sunday in Outer Blogness: Back to Prop. 8 Edition!

Politics Sunday in Outer Blogness

It seems like it’s been days since we talked about Proposition 8 here at MSP. Yet there’s been some new discussions of it all over Outer Blogness this past week, and I’m here to gather them up for you!

First, Jonathan Blake posts this interesting video which discusses whether the LDS church itself did indeed donate media and materials to the “Yes on 8” campaign, and (illegally) fail to declare the costs of these donated goods and services. Scot received an invitation to an anti-gay-marriage organizational meeting. Andee reminds us about this interesting letter John Remy received. (Note that in this game of blogging telephone, Andee reports the letter as being received by “a woman in California” — John will no doubt be pleased to have been upgraded to woman status, as it will help with his current stint at fMh.)

Equality California reports that “Today, hundreds of religious organizations, civil rights groups, and labor unions, along with numerous California municipal governments, bar associations, and leading legal scholars collectively urged the California Supreme Court to strike down Proposition 8.”

“Proposition 8 poses a grave threat to religious freedom,” said Rev. Rick Schlosser, Executive Director of the California Council of Churches. “If the Court permits same-sex couples to be deprived of equal protection by a simple majority vote, religious minorities could be denied equal protection as well—a terrible injustice in a nation founded by people who emigrated to escape religious persecution. If the Court permits Proposition 8 to take effect, religious discrimination similarly could be written into California’s Constitution.”

Absolutely, a very serious point that all religious minorities (such as atheists, Mormons, Jews, etc.) should be concerned about. And it seems some Mormons are worried about facing discrimination — to the point of speculating about being made to wear Star-of-David/beehive symbols on their “yes on 8” donor jackets, but not to the point of agreeing that it’s a dangerous precedent to write religious discrimination into California’s Constitution on the basis of a simple majority vote.

5 thoughts on “Sunday in Outer Blogness: Back to Prop. 8 Edition!

  1. James Madison’s argument against majoritarianism in Federalist 63 remains relevant: “In these critical moments, how salutary will be the interference of some temperate and respectable body of citizens, in order to check the misguided career, and to suspend the blow mediated by the people against themselves, until reason, justice and truth, can regain their authority over the public mind? What bitter anguish would not the people of Athens have often escaped, if their government had contained so provident a safeguard against the tyranny of their own passions? Popular liberty might then have escaped the indelible reproach of decreeing to the same citizens, the hemlock on one day, and statues on the next.”

    The whole referendum process–of which California is a prime offender–exacerbates this problem by romanticizing and then institutionalizing mob rule.

  2. Yes, the Federalist Papers were quite relevant to Proposition 8. Madison and Hamilton also warned about the tyranny of the majority that would impose on minority rights.

    California has not been served well by ‘democracy’ via plebiscite. A state of that size needs a full time state legislature that is not hampered by term limits.

    By the way, from Jewish emancipation to the abolition of slavery and voting rights legislation, equal rights efforts seem to require elite support.

    If we had to wait for the ‘people,’ Jews would still have to live in European ghettos.

  3. Eugene — exactly. Majority rule must be tempered by minority rights. It’s too easy to convince a majority mob “Everybody agrees that we need to restrict those weirdos” — without the same people making the connection that sometimes they’re in a misunderstood group that “everybody knows” is wrong or bad or inferior, etc. Thus the constitution should provide some checks on simple majority vote writing the laws.

  4. BTW, Dissenting in Part has written three excellent posts discussing this very point, including a relevant quote from J. Reuben Clark:

    The Constitution was framed in order to protect minorities. That is the purpose of written constitutions. In order that minorities might be protected in the matter of amendments under our Constitution, the Lord required that the amendments should be made only through the operation of very large majorities–two-thirds for action in the Senate, and three-fourths as among the states. This is the inspired, prescribed order. (J. Reuben Clark, Conference Report, April 1944, pp. 115–116; quoted in “Political Thought and Life of J. Reuben Clark, Jr.”, speech given by Marion G. Romney at BYU, 21 Nov. 1972).

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