Saturday, October 19, 2013

Gay Marriage Referendum in New Jersey

There is an attempt to get a "Gay Marriage Amendment" onto the November 2013 election ballot, which includes a gubernatorial election. The legalization of gay marriage has been gaining legislative support, aided by out-of-state activists. Gay marriage opponents have been attempting a constitutional end run around the political gridlock by putting the question to the voters on whether to amend the state constitution to legalize it. The opponents' effort has been aided by Governor Christie, who "vowed to veto a bill recently introduced in the state legislature legalizing gay marriage because he believed the issue should be decided by popular vote through a public referendum."

Logic and morality are on the side of gay marriage rights proponents, as evidenced by a NJ Star-Ledger letter titled Let citizens decide. The letter writer, Bernard, objected to the "out-of-state anarchists [and] rabble-rousers" who he claims want "to deny Garden State citizens the right to vote on a referendum upholding the sanctity of marriage as a union between one man and one woman" by pressing for legislative recognition of homosexual marriage rights.

Bernard concludes:
Marriage has been, since the beginning of time, clearly defined. New Jersey has some of the best civil union rights in the nation. It is times such as these that the phrase, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” comes to mind.

Here are my comments:

"Marriage has been, since the beginning of time, clearly defined."

Just because something is old, doesn't make it right. The "right" of some human beings to enslave other human beings had been accepted "since the beginning of time," too. Fortunately, the Western Enlightenment put an end to that. Slavery was abolished when the rights of individuals were recognized as inalienable. It's time for the Enlightenment to catch up in the field of marriage equality. Same-sex couples violate no one's rights by marrying. It's time for social authoritarians to get out of the way.

Individual rights, properly understood, sanctions the individual's freedom of action in a social context, so long as his actions violate no one else's rights. Forging a marriage contract is a form of action that infringes on no one else's rights, so no one else has the "right" to vote on whether any two consenting adults may contract for marriage. While some (or most) people may define marriage as "a union between one man and one woman," they have no right to impose their marriage terms on same-sex couples—no matter their numbers—any more than same-sex couples may impose their terms on heterosexual couples should they ever garner a majority to define marriage as a union of two individuals of the same sex. 

The fight for individual rights does not stop at the state line. Rights are universal. Good for those out-of-state activists who spend the time and money to fight for the contractual rights of New Jersey's same sex couples. They are "rabble-rousers" in the nature of the Founding Fathers and the American Revolutionaries—at least on this one issue.

As of now, it doesn't look like the marriage referendum will make it on to the New Jersey ballot.

Related Reading:

Should a "Homosexual contract" be Called Something Other Than Marriage?

Gay Marriage and Individual Rights

Rights and Democracy

Gay Marriage and Rights vs. Democracy—Alan Germani

1 comment:

Mike Kevitt said...

The only reason anybody cares about this stuff is the privileged status, under legislation (that doesn't mean law), gained by individuals who get 'married'.