Letter to the Editor: Minority to counterbalance the majority in gay debate


Danielle Fowles’ April 7 guest column (“Traditional families still most fundamental unit of society”) hinges on the belief that because the majority of a community’s citizens believe something, that thing should be law. She says, “When the majority of people in a state have so clearly made a statement…those standards should not be slighted.”

I find it a little disturbing that a leader of a campus political group does not recognize that the United States is not governed by majority rule-our country is not a pure democracy. It is a democratic republic with constitutional rights for the minority counterbalancing the will of the majority. That principle is what drove Southern schools to be desegregated in the 1950s. Brown v. Board of Education was decided in opposition to the opinions of most of the white citizens it affected, but constitutional rights of the minority prevailed over the will of the majority.

Many conservatives argue that making laws for this nation should be left to legislators, not “liberal activist judges” such as the Massachusetts Supreme Court. The problem there is that modern legislators want to be re elected-by the majority-so how can they be expected to offer counterbalanced minority protections if those protections would upset the majority charged with re-electing them? That’s why judges have always been more effective guardians of any minority’s rights: They’re not subject to popular will.

Fowles also says, “The people who claim to be seeking fairness under the law are the same ones trampling it.” She fails to recognize that the joyous “spouses for life” are just showing their love for one another and at the same time, engaging in civil disobedience, one of our country’s most valuable-and court protected-tools for change. Remember African-American sit ins at white-only lunch counters?

Later, Fowles wrote, “Opening the door of marriage to one group means that the door must be opened to all.” That has not happened in the Netherlands, where same-sex marriage has been legal since 2001, or in Belgium, where gay couples have been able to legally marry since early 2003. Nor have Canadians seen a push for incestuous or polygamous marriage since some Canadian provinces began marrying same sex couples. If it hasn’t been a problem anywhere else, why would it be a problem in the United States? The logic of that argument suffers from a classic slippery-slope fallacy.

Fowles is advocating an amendment that will keep gay couples from receiving more than 1,000 federal rights afforded married couples. Most of those rights are not included in Vermont’s civil unions, nor are many of them available even with expensive legal documents such as medical and financial powers of attorney and living wills. She is advocating this and yet she has the nerve to pull out the tired old claim, “I have friends who are homosexual.”

If those supposed “friends” read the April 7 edition of The Daily Utah Chronicle, she probably doesn’t have them anymore.

Nicholas Rupp