Apparently, same-sex marriage opponents have settled on the referendum as the only legitimate democratic means of settling civil rights issues. They have no fear about tyrannical majorities – yet (see below).
Doug Mataconis calls it moving the goalposts:
When the Courts started ruling against them, they decried judicial tyranny. Now that the legislatures, the democratically elected representatives of the people, are legalizing same sex marriage, they are making the argument that only direct democracy via referendum can be the acceptable manner in which same-sex marriage is legalized. Does anyone doubt that, when the day comes that the opponents of same-sex marriage start losing referendums — which may well happen in both New Jersey and Maryland when the time comes — that they’ll then shift their argument to the courts and argue that the law is somehow unconstitutional?
Andrew Sullivan calls it bait and switch:
I am not afraid of referendums in New Jersey or Maryland. Let’s do all we can to win them. The polls are now increasingly on our side. But the way in which a tiny 2- 3 percent minority seeking basic civil equality has been forced now to be subject to state referendums, even after winning legislative victories, strikes me as revealing. It’s basically an attack on representative government, a resort to the forms of decision-making which maximize the potential for anonymous bigotry and minimize the importance of representative government, a core achievement of Anglo-American democracy, that can help enhance reason of the accountable against the sometimes raw prejudice of the majority.
Christie is a man whose candor I admire in many ways. But this was an act of cowardice and unfairness and a misguided disregard for representative democracy. How many other duly enacted laws must now be sent to the referendum process for final judgment. Why have a legislature at all? And this from the party that claims to defend the Constitution.
Brad is willing to wager:
…if judicial decisions come down, state laws are passed legislatively, and then finally public referendums are passed, how much do you want to bet that conservative groups challenge those referendum results in courts? Or argue that it’s a tyranny of the majority (“Marriage equality is opposed by 40% of the population, but we’re forced to accept it?!”).