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Gay Marriage & the Right's Selective Attacks on Democratic Institutions

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I appeared on CNN this weekend to discuss a bunch of different topics, including - most interestingly - gay marriage. You can watch the clip here.

I say "most interestingly," because you'll see in the debate that the conservative du jour - a guy named Ben Ferguson - pulls the Right's now-standard tactic of blaming the process for any policy outcome the Right does not like. In this case, Ferguson insists that state legislatures and courts - major branches of our democracy - have no right to pass bills legalizing/issue court rulings legalizing gay marriage in a democracy. According to Ferguson, the only legitimate way to legalize gay marriage is through voter referenda.

This is, of course, idiotic to the point of silly. Courts and legislatures are all, in some way, accountable to voters. In many states, court justices are elected, and even in the ones where they aren't, an elected official appoints them. Even more obvious is the fact that legislatures are elected every two years. The idea that these organs of government have no right to do what they are elected to do - ie. make laws - is preposterous.

I'm not, of course, saying that voter referenda are inherently bad or illegitimate - if I was saying that, I'd be resorting to the same moronishness of Ferguson. Referenda are also a legitimate form of democratic power in a democracy, and I believe that even if they don't go the way I want them to.

The point here is that the Right really exhibits a nasty authoritarian streak that lets them, whenever they see fit, offer up selective interpretations of what is and isn't "legitimate" in a democracy - and conservatives are most willing to do this on divisive issues like gay marriage.

As I told CNN, I really believe anyone gay or straight who says their marriage is threatened by someone else's gay or straight marriage needs to seek marriage counseling. But an even bigger point than that is the fact that anyone who selectively indicts the legitimacy of different legitimate branches of our democracy isn't interested in democracy - they are interested in authoritarianism.