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My Vote Still Counts

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By:Tom Piatak | November 10, 2014

Back in 2004, I was part of the 62% of Ohio voters who supported a referendum to amend the Ohio Constitution to define marriage as “a union between one man and one woman.” Last week, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals decided, in a 2 to 1 decision, that my vote—and those of some 3. 3 million other Ohioans—still counted.

Although Judge Sutton hinted in his opinion that he would welcome the legalization of gay marriage, he insisted that such legalization had to come from the voters, not the courts: “If a federal court denies the people suffrage on an issue long thought to be within their power, they deserve an explanation. We, for our part, cannot find one.” Judicial deference to the democratic process was a theme emphasized repeatedly in the court’s decision: “Not one of the plaintiffs’ theories, however, make the case for constitutionalizing the definition of marriage and for removing the issue from the place it has been since the founding: in the hands of the voters.” Judge Sutton even paid tribute to a virtue not often emphasized in law schools: “A dose of humility makes us hesitant to condemn as unconstitutionally irrational a view of marriage shared not long ago by every society in the world.” And Judge Sutton recognized that any judicial redefinition of marriage would not stop at gay marriage: “If it must be constitutionally irrational to stand by the man-woman definition of marriage, it must be constitutionally irrational to stand by the monogamous definition of marriage.”

It was encouraging to see that opposition to judicial imperialism has not yet vanished from the bench. Apart from the dreadful substance of the decision, Roe v. Wade also poisoned American politics by disenfranchising those of us who believe abortion should be illegal. The plaintiffs in gay marriage cases want to do the same to those of us who believe that marriage is “a union between one man and one woman.” Such a strategy has many benefits: if the Supreme Court decides that it is unconstitutional to give legal expression to certain beliefs, the opponents of those beliefs have won a victory in all 50 states, and one that, in practical terms, has proven nearly impossible to overturn. Plus, those holding those beliefs can be branded as opponents of the Constitution, and, over time, the very existence of the decision will change public opinion, just as Roe v. Wade helped to undermine opposition to abortion. The left certainly has come to believe that any victory denied it by the voters should be given it by the judges. Many times, in fact, the left would rather not even bother trying to convince the voters. Indeed, as Judge Sutton noted in his decision, opponents of Ohio’s gay marriage ban decided that their best strategy was litigation, not another referendum.

Judge Sutton was joined in his opinion by Judge Cook; Judge Daughtrey dissented. For those who keep track of such things, Sutton and Cook were both appointed by George W. Bush; Daughtrey was appointed by Bill Clinton.



Ray Olson
St. Paul
11/11/2014 02:50 AM

  Although I approve of Judge Sutton's decision, I think it is an incredible and unconscionable stretch to say that advocates of gay marriage aim to disenfranchise their opponents. As a matter of fact, here in Minnesota, where a ballot measure to permit gay marriage was approved by the voters, no one who voted against gay marriage has lost the right to vote, been denied or penalized for any other rights or privileges of citizenship, or been put into slavery. Moreover, I dare say the same can be said of those who deplore Roe v. Wade. Opponents of abortion and gay marriage really must stop pretending that they have lost their citizenship--or even (especially?) that their free speech rights to express their beliefs have been revoked. These are monstrous lies that disgrace the causes of those who give voice to them.

Tom Piatak
11/11/2014 04:45 PM

  Mr. Olson, I am sorry my post distressed you, but I stand by what I wrote. Indeed, I was only echoing what Judge Sutton wrote in his decision, when he stated that, “If a federal court denies the people suffrage on an issue long thought to be within their power, they deserve an explanation." That was precisely what was at issue in the case, whether an unelected judge would deny the people suffrage on an issue long thought to be within their power. The plaintiffs in the case were asking the court to nullify my vote in 2004, and to outlaw all future referenda on gay marriage. Yes, opponents of gay marriage would still be able to vote, but they would not be able to vote to restore the definition of marriage. The same is true for abortion after Roe v Wade. Opponents of abortion can vote, but they cannot vote to outlaw abortion. They have been disenfranchised on an issue of great concern to them.

San Antonio
11/11/2014 05:17 PM

  Mr. Olson, the voters of California would probably disagree with you since they voted against gay marriage and it was overturned. As I recall the citizens of Maine voted 58% to protect traditional marriage and their two bumbling Republican Senators still support gay marriage. Here in Bexar county 60% voted to protect traditional marriage (78% statewide), but the Democrats responded by trying to overturn it and appointed a radical homosexual as the chair of their party some years back. Our new Democrat D.A., the Lebanese connection, will not be about law and order as most Texan voters are. He can dupe enough of the electorate into thinking he will be a tough prosecutor the same way W. duped everyone into thinking he was conservative to get elected though. The uppity people in power need to learn their place in this society. As we see again the Republicans are pushing for more free trade now and I do not think anyone voted for that last Tuesday. I believe Mr. Piatak wrote a good piece recently about restoring tariffs and bringing jobs back. What does he think of the Republicans now? Dr. Fleming says the seats should go to the highest bidder, but I think that will just give the same Neo-cons and rich Liberals more direct access than they already have. Secession as the neo-confederates want would split Texas into pieces because the evangelical white trash in north Texas has nothing in common with the Liberation theology wetbacks and various other Leftists that control south Texas. The evangelical white trash are not Yankees where Dr. Wilson always wants to place the blame, but are southerners who used to vote Democrat. They support more wars and do not have a clue about trade policies and jobs. We have some Yankees from Brooklyn in my apartment complex and they do not like all these changes. These Yankees are against free trade and Neo-con wars. My great-grandparents would not recognize San Antonio now.

JD Salyer
11/11/2014 06:32 PM

  Mr. Olson, If there is anything to disagree with it is Mr. Piatak's optimistic title. In my neck of the woods proponents of the Fairness Ordinance have made it illegal for business owners and landlords to discriminate against homosexuals, and empowered an EU-style Human Rights commission to investigate infractions.

11/11/2014 07:08 PM

  We need someone who can heal these divisions, who can lead the mob to a place where the lion and the lamb lay down together, where no child is left behind , no soldier is unsung, no right is not protected, no immigrant not welcomed, no war is ever avoided and Everyman a tax cut!!


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