WASHINGTON -- Not again. We are the only Western country to have legalized abortion by judicial fiat rather than by democratic approval of the people or the legislature. Are we going to do it again with gay marriage?
We know what short-circuiting democracy does. Thirty years after Roe v. Wade, abortion still brings masses of demonstrators into the streets. Roe v. Wade, Ruth Bader Ginsburg once said, ``halted a political process that was moving in a reform direction and thereby, I believe, prolonged divisiveness and deferred stable settlement of the issue.''
A similar ``reform direction'' on homosexuality has been under way for years. There is no doubt that increasing tolerance of homosexuality, reappraisal of marriage, and common sympathy for fellow citizens would have led inexorably to the spread of civil unions (which I favor) -- and, as they became customary and were evaluated in the light of experience, perhaps ultimately to broad acceptance of gay marriage as well.
Instead, the courts have once again been commandeered to impose a revolution from on high.
At least abortion was dictated by the national committee of wise men, aka the Supreme Court. But because of the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the Constitution (which makes every state have to accept ``the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State''), gay marriage can be imposed on the entire country by a bare majority of the state supreme court of but one of the 50 states. This, in a country where about 60 percent of the citizenry oppose gay marriage.
President Bush supports a constitutional amendment to define marriage as the union between a man and a woman. I am troubled by any constitutional amendment that is not about democratic governance. But the activists have forced the issue. What is the alternative to nationalized gay marriage imposed by the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts?
The 1996 Defense of Marriage Act? Nonsense. It pretends to allow the states to reject marriage licenses issued in other states. But there is not a chance in hell that the Supreme Court will uphold it.
Predictably, Massachusetts Democrats are on the attack. John Kerry charges the president with seeking ``a wedge issue to divide the American people.'' Ted Kennedy amplifies: ``It's about politics -- an attempt to drive a wedge between one group of citizens and the rest of the country, solely for partisan advantage.''
Charles Krauthammer is a 1987 Pulitzer Prize winner, 1984 National Magazine Award winner, and a columnist for The Washington Post since 1985.
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