The media is all abuzz about a recent decision by the California Supreme court to overturn a voter approved ban on gay marriages. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger says he will uphold this ruling.
To be honest, I have mixed feelings about this.
On one hand, I have stated my support for gay marriage here and here. I think it's great that gay couples in committed monogamous relationships may soon be granted the same legal rights as their heterosexual counterparts in California. Perhaps this will serve as a catalyst in other states.
But, on the other hand, I have serious reservations about a court overturning the will of the people - even though I don't agree with their collective will. It makes a mockery of our political system. What's the point of getting involved and voting when activist judges are going to do whatever they want and force their will upon the masses?
Does the end justify the means?
Supporters of this ruling will point out that the court is simply overruling the ban because it is unconstitutional - but isn't that a matter of interpretation? When the people of California voted the ban in, weren't they saying that is how they choose to interpret their state constitution? It was a narrow victory - 3 of the 7 judges sided with the people. That tells me that how their constitution should be interpreted is not as obvious as some would have us believe.
It's easy to ignore such things when you agree with the ruling. But, if we grant that much power to the courts, it's only a matter of time before they make a ruling we don't agree with - what then? If we agree that we are a democracy then we have to accept the will of the people - always - not just when it's convenient.
I can't help but wonder what sort of ramifications might arise when you force people to accept something against their will. Wouldn't it be better to change the heart and mind of the people? Sure, it will take longer, but are we so inpatient we can't wait a few more years? Actions like this may cause other states to dig in even deeper and push that eventual day further into the future. Might this end up being a hollow victory as we win the battle but lose the war?