Democracy is too precious to waste on everyone, according to a New York Times editorial decrying ballot initiatives (referendums) on same-sex marriage in four states as part of the elections next week. It’s a bad way to write or rewrite any laws, the Times has decided, given the distinct possibility that next week’s ballots will turn out like those in 32 other states — rejecting the redefinition of marriage.

As this article in National Review Online notes,

When popular votes in 32 of 32 states go against you, you start taking a low view of democracy. Better to place your hopes with five of nine unelected justices of the Supreme Court.

Polls, on the other hand, seem to be OK, even though they also consult the Great Unwashed on Very Import Issues such as whether the most fundamental institution of society should be revolutionised — defined by the Times as “marriage equality”. But polls can be both “encouraging” and “unreliable”, at the same time. (Remember that admission next time your political representative/newspaper/TV channel cites a poll in favour of gay marriage or any other moral issue.)

The trouble is that “forces of intolerance”, that is, people who exercise their right to defend the reality of marriage, have the cheek to use all the usual ways of informing people about the issue and encouraging them to vote for reason and the common good. They run TV commercials, they instruct their congregations, they wage “a loud propaganda campaign”. How dare they?!

Of course, one man’s propaganda is another’s truth. It is true that people are already being penalised for resisting the same-sex marriage cause. As the NRO article points out,

The [Times] editorial comes on the heels of Gallaudet University’s decision to place a senior administrator on leave for signing a petition to refer the marriage question to Maryland citizens.

It is completely reasonable to warn that same-sex marriage will harm marriage by obscuring its essential characteristics of sexual complementarity and procreative purpose. It is just and reasonable to deal with domestic partnerships separately.

And what if the ballots deliver an endorsement for gay marriage? What kind of an editorial would we see then? “The people have spoken, and they agree with us…”?

Carolyn Moynihan

Carolyn Moynihan is the former deputy editor of MercatorNet