Will Massachusetts, the cradle of American liberty, let four lawyers don the robes of oligarchy, override the wishes of the majority of the people, usurp the powers of their elected representatives and sabotage the institution of marriage? Where is the fight that manifested itself in Massachusetts men at the battles of Bunker Hill, Lexington and Concord?
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled 4-to-3 to legalize same-sex marriages. With elitist arrogance, the four-person majority bragged: "Certainly our decision today marks a significant change in the definition of marriage as it has been inherited from the common law, and understood by many societies for centuries."
Indeed, it does. Traditional marriage of husband and wife is fortified by a network of legal rights and duties spelled out in more than 1,000 federal and 400 state laws. The four judges gave the governor and the legislature 180 days to overturn nearly 400 years of Massachusetts history.
Those judges had no authority to change the definition of marriage. They contemplated their navels and convinced themselves that they alone could change social policy and make new law, and even contemptuously opined that belief in traditional marriage is without a "rational basis."
The people of Massachusetts should tell the judges to stuff their arrogance. "We the people" should rise up and say we are not going to kowtow to judicial tyranny.
Regrettably, the response by Massachusetts public officials has been pusillanimous. They are groveling before the four judges, wiggling around in the hope the court might be appeased by a parallel system of civil unions.
Gov. Mitt Romney is trying to walk a tightrope of compromise. While supporting a constitutional amendment to protect traditional marriage, he said: "We obviously have to follow the law as provided by the Supreme Judicial Court, even if we don't agree with it," and we need to decide "what kind of statute we can fashion which is consistent with the law."
But what "law"? There is no law that requires or even allows same-sex marriages. The judges enunciated only special-interest advocacy masquerading as legal reasoning.
Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly said the judges overstepped in trying to shape social policy, but he wants to test an alternative solution and then seek "an advisory opinion of the court." Au contraire; we don't want any more advice from those judges.
State Rep. Philip Travis, the lead sponsor of an amendment to preserve the definition of marriage, has the right response. He said that if the legislature doesn't act within the 180 days, the court can't force clerks to issue marriage licenses to gay couples.
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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