The Gay Rights Movement’s Pyhrric Victory

I’m still wading through the text of the Perry decision, but this post sums up my feelings on the legal strategy of gay marriage advocates:

The optics are uniquely bad — a federal judge imperiously tossing out a public referendum enacted by citizens of one of the bluest states in America on the shoulders of a multi-racial coalition. If the goal of gay-rights activists is to make same-sex marriage palatable to the public, then embittering opponents by torpedoing a hard-fought democratic victory seems like … an odd way to go about it. The response to that will be that equality can’t wait, just as it couldn’t wait vis-a-vis school desegregation in the 1950s. Except that (a) no one, including gay-marriage supporters, seriously believes that the harm here is as egregious as the harm to blacks under Jim Crow, and (b) there was no assurance of a legislative solution to racial injustice in the 1950s the way there currently is for gay marriage. A strong majority already favors civil unions; as I noted earlier, opposition to same-sex marriage is in decline and down to 53 percent. When polled, young adults are invariably heavily in favor, guaranteeing that the legal posture on this issue will shift further over the next decade. The real effect of this decision, assuming it’s upheld on appeal, will be to let gay-marriage opponents claim that they were cheated in a debate that they were losing and bound to lose anyway. That’s what’s called a pyrrhic victory. Too bad.

Please do be so kind as to share this post.
Share

32 thoughts on “The Gay Rights Movement’s Pyhrric Victory

  1. If courts shouldn’t be used to overthrow unconstitutional laws – whether those laws are made by a legislature or by public referendum – they why do courts have that jurisdiction in the first place? The recent Supreme Court case on gun laws threw out a lot of gun restrictions passed legislatively, presumably with voter support, and there isn’t some giant kerfuffle about people have “cheated” or defied democracy on that one.

      Quote  Link

    Report

      • @Tyler,

        The problem Will identifies is not one of justice, but of timing and tactics in achieving a form of justice that will last.

        I’ve read the whole decision now. I find it very persuasive, well-reasoned, and necessary given the facts as presented in the case. I’m not always comfortable with either marriage as a status or with suspect classes, but both of these seem to have been forced on the court by legal necessity, so I’ll let them go.

        The real question is whether this was the right time to bring a lawsuit — by which I mean only: Given the suit’s timing, is the outcome likely to last? I fear that it won’t.

          Quote  Link

        Report

  2. As a conservative I think I’m moving pretty quickly past trying to fight off SSM, which seems inevitable in one way or another, towards fighting a rear-guard action (no pun intended) to protect the conservative legacy regarding this struggle. The Right has been unfairly maligned for 40 years regarding our position during the Civil Rights Movement, mostly because a few disgruntled Dixeicrats found a home in the GOP after desegregation. Opposition to gay marriage has transcended political labels, race, religion, etc. The problem is that if the Left has it their way this entire debate will be distilled down to, “A bigoted minority of Republicans were the only ones who fought gay marriage and see how silly they look now when it’s been the law of the land for 20 years.” Luckily there is a long list of state bans on gay marriage to point to as evidence that opposition was the majority opinion.

      Quote  Link

    Report

  3. Isn’t it possible that it’s a Pyrrhic victory until it goes to the Supreme Court, where it gets overturned, but then that turns out to be a…. well, I guess the opposite equivalent would be a “Voorhean Defeat” (after the killer in the Friday the 13th movies who never dies)? I think a big part of Prop. 8 passing was that gay rights groups didn’t really expect it to pass, and sort of lacked the necessary vehemence vis-a-vis the anti-SSM crowd; but I have a strong feeling that the ‘enthusiasm gap’ has now been closed. Moreover, for people who are on the fence about this, I suspect that seeing the vehemence of gays to win this right might push them to a ‘no’ vote when another anti-SSM proposition comes along.

      Quote  Link

    Report

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *