Some not-so-bad news

Today the Senate voted down a gay marriage amendment, 49-48 (it needed 60 votes) (thanks to mikasaur2000 for the link to the article, which is a rather good one). I watched the Daily Show yesterday, in which John Stewart debated the topic with Bill Bennett and made some excellent points. For instance, Mr. Bennett claimed that marriage was threatened by this, and gave a slippery slope argument that if we allow gay marriage, we might eventually need to allow polygamy and other commonly disliked practices (he also noted that in every religion and culture, marriage is between men and women). Stewart turned this around and made the opposite slippery slope: if the government can ban gay marriage, they could then go further and ban interracial marriages (which are also looked down upon in almost every religion and culture).

The thing that bugs me about this issue is that proponents of such an amendment say it’s necessary because otherwise judges will strike down the current laws banning gay marriage as unconstitutional. If such laws are unconstitutional, my first impulse is not to change the constitution to fit my whims, but to question my viewpoint and wonder if it could be incorrect. Imagine what would have happened if, instead of fighting a civil war, the government had simply made a constitutional amendment to allow slavery, since the majority of the country at the time was for slavery but could see a vocal and growing number of people opposing it? If we can make constitutional amendments for laws that would otherwise be unconstitutional, what keeps us from making constitutional amendments for all laws? It seems like the proponents of the ban are attempting to keep the courts out of the battle because they know the courts will strike down any such law, and that by making a constitutional ban, they can circumvent the courts entirely.

On an interesting but less significant note, China seems to be blocking Google and a number of other websites from the outside world. Although this in itself is not new, this time they’re causing a lot of inconvenience and people are starting to complain. In particular, Google has been censoring the results on but not on (which until now could still be accessed from China). This is certainly not a surprise, but it’s interesting to note that this is starting to stir up a lot of discontent.

With any luck, there will be more news posts now that summer is in full swing.

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  1. I agree with your reasoning (“tweaking the constitution is bad”), but that is why we’re allowed to change it in the first place (if it says things we don’t want it to).

    My favorite way to argue this point is to point out that the constitution (so far) guarantees freedoms instead of restricting them. (Prohibition being the exception that proves my point, sort of).

    In fact, inter-racial marriages (“miscegenation”) were illegal in many states, and possibly at the federal level, for a very long time; I once found (I don’t remember where) a transcript of a senator arguing that miscegenation should remain illegal. It was presented as a counterpoint with a more-recent transcript about why gay marriage is bad, and they were stunningly, almost word-for-word, similar. (“God says it’s bad”, “foundation of our society”, and other such things)

    That gave me a little hope that the direction on such things is uniformly forward, albeit in wee little steps.

    • Alan says:

      I think that’s exactly why John Stewart made the comparison: both of them were at one point illegal, until judges started saying that such laws were unconstitutional, and then there was a big debate with people trying to overrule the judges (which, thankfully, ultimately failed). The difference is that this time, people seem to be trying to step over the judicial side of things and render it completely useless.

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