Mitt Compares Same-Sex Marriage to Slavery
...And compares the proposed anti-same-sex marriage amendment to the Emancipation Proclamation.
I'm not making this up. In an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal entitled "A Citizen's Guide to Protecting Marriage" Romney compares the Mass. Supreme Judical Court ruling on same-sex marriage to the Dred Scott decision (in which the Supreme Court ruled that no slave could become a free citizen or have any rights). He then compares the proposed anti-same-sex marriage constitutional amendment to the Emancipation Proclamation. He urges "the people" to "act now to protect marriage in your state."
To top it all off, the piece is illustrated with a portrait of Abraham Lincoln. So apparently Romney sees himself as the Great Emancipator, freeing heterosexual married couples from the hardship and oppression that the possibility of same-sex marriage is inflicting upon them?
Guest Commentary: On Dred Scott and Goodridge
Now, I haven't studied law, so I decided to solicit a guest commentary on Romney's argument from a friend who has, soon-to-be lawyer Matt Scott. Romney is railing against "activist judges" going against "the will of the people", but Matt argues that Dred Scott was the opposite of judicial activism--the court refused to take action to change the status quo and recognize the civil rights of African Americans:
Of course, the sad part is it probably won't matter how irrational Romney's or Bush's arguments are. If Bush was against activist courts, he wouldn't have allowed the Supreme Court to appoint him as president, and he wouldn't be so fond of Justice Antonin Scalia (recently seen on a duck-hunting trip with Dick Cheney). And he wouldn't have pushed through the appointment of a racist right-wing extremist judge like Pickering--against the will of the Senate, no less.
Governor Romney's comparison of Dred Scott to Goodridge et al. v. Dept. of Public Health is completely irrational. In his description of the decision he states the Massachusetts Supreme Court "detected a previously unrecognized right" in the Massachusetts constitution. But if one follows this logic, the Massachusetts court's decision is the polar opposite of Dred Scott.
In Dred Scott, the Supreme Court refused to recognize the citizenship of free African-Americans. In the court's mind, this interpretation was justified because "neither the class of persons who had been imported as slaves, nor their descendants, whether they had become free or not, were then acknowledged as a part of the people." In short, the "We" in "We the People" only included whites. Even if the member of the court did not personally agree with this interpretation, they claimed it was not the role of the judiciary to critique the intentions of the framers; their duty was to apply those intentions to the current era:It is not the province of the court to decide upon the justice or injustice, the policy or impolicy, of these laws. The decision of that question belonged to the political or law-making power... The duty of the court is, to interpret the instrument they have framed...
The court in Dred Scott was not circumventing the will of the legislature or the executive branch, it was claiming that the rights of freed slaves were not guaranteed by the constitution as it stood at the time. For these rights to be recognized an amendment would be needed that expanded the definition of the People to include groups other than whites. The court actually refused to be activist.
This is the exact role that Governor Romney would like the judiciary to play. According to Romney, rather than recognizing the constitutional right of gay and lesbian couples to marry, the court should allow that decision to be made by the People. As the court in Dred Scott refused to recognize concept of citizenship and the rights associated with it as "an evolving paradigm," Governor Romney refuses to realize that the concept of marriage and family is evolving beyond his worldview. While he would love for family to remain a vehicle for the propagation of patriarchy, "husband and wife, father and mother, son and daughter," it won't and he is grasping at irrational straws to try and stop this evolution.
P.S. Massachusetts legislators are going to be voting on the proposed amendment Feb. 11. If you live in Massachusetts... let your representatives know what you think.
P.P.S. Robert's Virtual Soapbox has a little ode to Massachusetts, pointing out that not only might Massachusetts be the first to have gay marriage, it was the Boston Globe that first dug up the Bush AWOL dirt.
Ohio has just become the 39th state to ban gay marriage, as Gov. Taft has just signed one of the strictest anti-same-sex marriage bans in the country into law. Truly a great day for civil rights supporters and slavery abolitionists everywhere.