Wednesday, November 04, 2009

A Very Democratic Event

Maine voters elected their state legislature. As representatives of the people, the state legislature voted to add the ability for same-sex couples to marry.*

Maine voters elected the governor of their state. The governor signed the new same-sex marriage bill into law in the state.

The people created a ballot measure and voted state-wide in a referendum. 53% of those voters said "No" and the measure was voted out.

This seems a very democratic event. The legislature is more susceptible to adverse pressure by the loudest voices lobbying for their attention. It is a smaller set of people to impact, and they are more focused on the mix of people in their district, or to the offers that they are promised in return for their vote. Similar pressures exist at the governor's level.

The individual people, though, represent only themselves, their own interests. They are the bulwark.

Here is the most interesting fact from the first article I've reviewed, emphasis added:

For the gay rights movement, which has gained a foothold in New England, it was a stinging defeat. Gay marriage has now lost in every state — 31 in all — in which it has been put to a popular vote. Gay-rights activists had hoped to buck that trend in Maine, framing same-sex marriage as a matter of equality for all families in a campaign that used 8,000 volunteers to get out the message.

Five states have legalized gay marriage — Iowa, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Connecticut — but all did so through legislation or court rulings, not by popular vote.

The message here seems pretty clear, here. The people, in total, do not wish to have this change implemented state-wide or nationally.

*I haven't reviewed the definition of marriage in this situation... i.e.: full marriage, same as already existed, or some form of legal partnership with similar rules to marriage, such as hospital visitation and inheritance... but not necessarily "marriage", etc.

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