Usually, when same-sex marriages are legalized in a state, the professional bastards at National Organization for Marriage and Family Research Council will start flipping their shit. They’ll scream that this is a case of marriage equality being “forced onto” the state by “activist judges,” and that we should “let the people vote.” Similar rhetoric is employed when proposals come out in states to preemptively screw over same-sex couples.
Let’s meet “the people,” shall we?
On and on it goes. All the videos, though, boil down to a few core messages. The first of these messages is the whole “redefining marriage” issue, which I’ve gone over before. There’s also the whole “children need a mother and a father!” argument, which I have also written about. Another thing that gets brought up ad nauseum is the idea of “religious freedom,” which I plan to write about in a little while (PREVIEW: They’re full of shit). They do, though, keep coming back to this “overturning the will of the people” nonsense.
Here’s the thing: Those judges who “flipped” the “will of the people?” They were judges. As in, have law degrees. As in, have passed the bar. As in, have had long and successful careers analyzing the constitutions and laws of cities, states, and the nation. As in, know a hell of a lot more about what is and is not unconstitutional than these douchebags. If your damn “We can’t let the gays get married!” referendum were legit, then these judges probably would not have thrown it out. If your “Marriage only works with penises in vaginas!” bill wasn’t denying people constitutional rights, then experts on the Constitution would not be saying that it’s unconstitutional.
This is not to say that something is true just because a judge said it. One could, theoretically, go to law school, graduate, pass the bar exam, look over the judges’ decision, and then find a problem with it. If you haven’t studied law, though, you don’t get to make decisions on the validity of laws that will impact others. You can speak your mind on the matter, to be sure. I clearly am. But “this law is bullshit” coming from a preacher, construction worker, barista, or even undergraduate history student holds inherently less weight than the same opinion coming from an expert on the subject.
As for the “will of the people,” I’ll bet the people also want to eat a ton of chocolate cake and never gain a pound. Nobody would accuse a doctor of “overturning the will of the people,” though, if he or she were to point out that eating a ton of chocolate cake will, in fact, lead to weight gain. If you study human biology and discover that, for whatever crazy reason, eating a ton of chocolate cake will not lead to any gain in weight, then congratulations. If your only response is just “nuh-uh! I really like chocolate cake!” though, then I’ll side with the practicing doctor on matters of human biology, the same way that I’m prone to trust legal experts (real ones, not “Fellows for Policy Studies” at the FRC) on matters of constitutional law.
The Constitution isn’t just like a human body, of course. It can be amended, and it is up to interpretation. That said, laws have to work within the constraints of the Constitution as it stands, and amendments to the Constitution are tricky affairs. Even if every single citizen of this country except the judge who found Proposition 8 unconstitutional were staunchly opposed to marriage equality, it would not change whether or not marriage equality is a right guaranteed by the Constitution. If “the will of the people” was the deciding factor in law, then there would be no point in having government of any sort, other than loosely organized forums to meet and come to decisions. As long as this is still a nation governed by laws, though, and not by raw majority rule, a mob is not a legal argument.