Dissents Of The Day

voting

A reader quotes me:

“The end result would be 17 states with marriage equality recognized by the feds, and the debate could then continue democratically as it should state by state.” So you think rights should be voted on? Since when is it ever a good idea to leave the rights of a minority up to the whims of the majority? As Thomas Jefferson said in his 1st Inaugural: “Bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will, to be rightful, must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal laws must protect, and to violate would be oppression.”

Another writes:

I’ve been following your coverage of the same sex marriage debate fairly closely, and I  must say that I simply don’t understand why you want a gradual approach to the issue. If you believe that same sex marriage is a right, which I do, why in the world do you think that it shouldn’t be given to everyone in EVERY state NOW? Earlier today you quoted MLK, linking, rightly I think, the current push for gay rights to the earlier movement for African American civil rights. I think MLK would be horrified by your gradualism. From his “I Have A Dream” speech:

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy.

He did not lead a movement that sought to overturn racial discrimination gradually; he wanted an end to segregation and discrimination immediately throughout the country. And I don’t believe that you should demand anything less on gay rights now. More to the point, I don’t believe that same-sex marriage rights should be limited to the coasts for the next decade plus while the rest of the country comes around. I’m glad that the right to marry whomever you please is spreading, but I believe that my gay brother in Alabama, my close lesbian friend in Georgia, and countless others in the South and the middle of the country should have the same right that you enjoy in New York and Massachusetts and DC.

Would a sweeping expansion of same sex marriage across the country cause a backlash? Probably. But is it worth weathering that backlash to ensure that everyone in this country has the right to marry the person they love? Absolutely.

(Photo: Seth Keel, center, is consoled by his boyfriend Ian Chambers, left, and his mother Jill Hinton, during a concession speech during an Amendment One opposition party on Tuesday, May 8, 2012, at The Stockroom in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina. Voters approved the constitutional amendment 61% to 39% to define marriage solely as a union between a man and a woman, and civil unions and potentially other types of domestic partnerships will no longer be recognized legally by the state. By Travis Long/Raleigh News & Observer/MCT via Getty Images.)