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March 18, 2009

Listen to the People -- Same-Sex Marriage Hearing at the Statehouse

DSCF3741 Don Eggert and I are here at the Statehouse for the public hearing on same-sex marriage. We'll be live blogging tonight. You can follow along below.

Here's a shot of the House chamber. The hearing doesn't start for 45 minutes, but the room is filling up already. Lots of people here to testify.

The second shot, below, is of the signs I saw as I walked toward the Statehouse. The "Take Back Vermont" crowd have their anti-gay-marriage signs strewn all over the lawn and on both sides of the entrance I used to get into the building.

As I walked in, a man tried to hand me a sticker that said something like, "Support Marriage: A Mother and Father for Every Child." I said, "No thanks, my kids have two moms." And he said, "That's too bad."

DSCF3739 What do you say to that? I said, "Not for me" as I walked away.

I just love these public hearings, don't you?

It might be best to put it to a public vote than leave it in the hands of 180 lawmakers plus the governor to decide the issue. Lets face it it took how many years for us to debate sex crimes and offences, and do we really know where we are now?
Let the voters decide and if voter apathy is the winner than shame on them.

Dale, this would be better: Let's vote on each person's individual marriage. Before anyone can get a marriage license they should be required to get permission from the public in an open election.

This is the only true way to be 100% sure that a majority of people are okay with every civil marriage.

It is self-evident that minority rights cannot be decided by the majority. That's exactly why they are minority rights.

Haik, agreed, but I'd put the emphasis on the word rights. A right is, by definition, a special claim against the majority. Any right that can be voted away is not a "right" at all.

Any right that can be voted away is not a "right" at all.

Hmmmm. I knew if we thought to much about this it would become a slippery slope, because whether we're talking about direct democracy or representative democracy, some permutation of a majority does actually decide our rights. Even the constitution derives its power from the legitimacy of having been ratified by two-thirds of the states.

What I think is clear though, is that the "rights" are least subject to change in the courts, more subject to change in a legislative body, and most subject to change by direct popular vote. Rights prized by a minority greatly imperiled by popular vote.

Hey, neat - reduce, reuse, recycle! They just pulled out all their old "take back Vermont" signs that they had hid away in defeat after "The People" told Ruth Dwyer to take a hike. Remember that? When you said that Real Vermonters didn't want civil unions and that Dean would be defeated because of it?

You weren't right then and you aren't right now. Why don't you find a hobby that doesn't revolve around trying to dehumanize and marginalize a disenfranchised minority?

Ah, the old "Take Vermont Back." Maybe it's time to recycle this sticker, too.

"Take Back Your Empties"

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