March 26, 2009

Apparently We Can No Longer Afford Equality

The Vermont Legislature passed a bill authorizing same-sex marriage recently, by veto-proof margins in both houses. This has not stopped the Governor of that fine state, Jim Douglas, from indicating that he will veto the bill the moment it hits his desk. Why would you pick a fight with your Legislature like that, Governor?
The urgency of our state’s economic and budgetary challenges demands the full focus of every member and every committee of this Legislature. Ensuring that the federal recovery money is spent wisely, that the state budget is balanced and responsible, and that we do all we can to help our employers compete and create jobs is my top priority.
Wow. So if Vermont had been experiencing economic growth instead of a recession, Gov. Douglas would have signed the bill instead of vetoing it? Gays can only get married when times are good? This is a profoundly silly argument.

To be fair, Douglas also offers the same intellectually vapid semantic bromide offered to justify discrimination elsewhere:
Vermont’s civil union law has extended the same state rights, responsibilities and benefits of marriage to same-sex couples. I believe our civil union law serves Vermont well and I would support congressional action to extend those benefits at the federal level to states that recognize same-sex unions. But like President Obama and other leaders on both sides of the aisle, I believe that marriage should remain between a man and woman.
Ironically, this core of Gov. Douglas' pre-veto message is offered sandwiched between calls for tolerance, obviously aimed at SSM advocates who will call opposition to their position "discrimination" and "bigotry". (And rightly so.) Douglas begs for Vermonters to "tolerate my opinion and actions discharging my office even though you find them obnoxious and contrary to the overwhelming desires of the voters and their elected representatives."

I see no reason why Vermonters ought to tolerate discrimination. If I have to put up with the majority in California voting contrary to my preferences, then SSM opponents in Vermont should have to put up with the majority there voting contrary to their preferences. Gov. Douglas is acting in a distinctly countermajoritarian manner here, and I defy SSM opponents to explain to me how his veto of a bill that gathers massive political support is any different from a majority rule-minority rights perspective than a judge striking down a statute.

Well, there is a difference. The judge is acting to conform the law to the Constitution. But here, Douglas is acting to conform the law to his personal preferences.

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