Genso Criticizes Opponent’s Take on Marriage Ruling

Longtime friend of the blog Jordan Genso is running for the state legislature here in Michigan and he is calling out his opponent, the mayor of the town of Howell, for his ignorant statement issued in response to a federal judge striking down the state’s law banning same-sex marriage two weeks ago.

But that message was lost on GOP House candidate and Howell Mayor Phillip Campbell, who publicly opposed the U.S. District Court ruling that found Michigan’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional, argued Jordan Genso, Democratic candidate for the same House seat representing most of Livingston County…

Campbell, one of six Republicans running for the House seat, earlier said in a press release that the U.S. District Court ruling ignored the will of Michiganders who approved the 2004 same-sex marriage ban.

He said the ruling unfairly requires county clerks to issue marriage licenses to gay couples over personal objections and violates “natural law.”

“He’s not making any sort of constitutional argument,” countered Genso. “He’s sort of saying ‘Hey, there’s a law about marriage. It got popular support. A judge should not be able to overturn it.’ ”

He’s right. The claim that the ruling is wrong because it was supported by a majority of voters is not a legal argument at all. Constitutionally, it is completely irrelevant whether the law was passed by the legislature or by popular referendum. An unconstitutional law passed by referendum is still unconstitutional.

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  • eric

    Go Jordan!

  • Mobius

    “Constitutionally, it is completely irrelevant whether the law was passed by the legislature or by popular referendum.”

    Exactly what I was going to say, but you beat me to it.

  • gshelley

    The claim that the ruling is wrong because it was supported by a majority of voters is not a legal argument at all. Constitutionally, it is completely irrelevant whether the law was passed by the legislature or by popular referendum.

    It was also one the judge addressed in his ruling. I suppose you might be able to argue that when the level of scrutiny required is uncertain, a law directly passed by the voters must pass a higher barrier than one passed by the legislator, but I don’t know any judge would buy that. Or that it is even relevant in this case, as to the best of my knowledge, it wasn’t using heightened scrutiny.

  • John Pieret

    Don’t read the comments to the article. It is full of the usual bullcrap: there are fundamental differences between Loving v. Virginia and gay marriage because you are born with skin color but there is no gay gene (and if a state passed a law forbidding a Christian from marrying a Jew?); the purpose of marriage is procreation (the sterile can’t get married?); it’s different because I say so; etc., etc. There’s a lot of harping on the fact that, back in 2004, when Genso was 19 years old, he supported the same-sex marriage ban which he now recognizes was a bad decision.

    If the comments accurately reflect the attitudes of the people in the election district, Genso may be in for tough sledding.

  • Synfandel

    …and violates “natural law.”

    Anyone know where I can look up the full text of “natural law”? Sounds like a fascinating read.

  • Jordan Genso

    @1 eric

    Go Jordan!

    Thank you.

    Constitutionally, it is completely irrelevant whether the law was passed by the legislature or by popular referendum.

    I was trying to explain that to the reporter, who thought that there would be a difference, but it’s difficult to do so in a clear and polite way over the phone.

    What’s incredible is how much interest the story generated on the website. Normally the county paper’s popular articles get 20-30 comments, but since over 800 people “recommended” the article so it got posted to their FB feed, people came from all over to defend the mayor (over 200 comments). I tried to make the best case I could, but it eventually got overwhelming.

    Overall though, the story was a great for my campaign. Those of us here all know how frustrating it is that our political world is so intellectually dishonest. The coverage provided me with a small spotlight where I could demonstrate a little intellectual honesty and actually engage with the other side.

  • Jordan Genso

    If the comments accurately reflect the attitudes of the people in the election district, Genso may be in for tough sledding.

    What’s ironic is that I don’t think many of the commenters are from the district (as I’ve never seen them comment before, and I visit the site daily), but they do reflect what many in the district feel. I’m a progressive running in a conservative district, so the odds are against me, but that’s also what gives me the ability to simply run the campaign I’d want to see others run and not worry about whether or not it’ll cost me votes. There’s no need to sell my soul since it probably wouldn’t change my odds of winning.

  • eric

    On the plus side, Ed could now donate $millions to your campaign, as long as he does it in $5,200 chunks.

  • John Pieret

    I’m a progressive running in a conservative district, so the odds are against me, but that’s also what gives me the ability to simply run the campaign I’d want to see others run and not worry about whether or not it’ll cost me votes.

    A good attitude and good luck! Lightning in a bottle and all that!

  • moarscienceplz

    I suppose you might be able to argue that when the level of scrutiny required is uncertain, a law directly passed by the voters must pass a higher barrier than one passed by the legislator

    (I am assuming here that you meant to say that a voter-passed law could be or should be regarded as having higher significance than a representative-passed law.)

    IANAL, but I don’t see how. The Founders specifically chose representative democracy for a reason – they didn’t trust the hoi polloi</I. to make the best decisions. They not only decided ordinary citizens were unqualified to vote for president, they didn't even trust us to vote for our own senators directly.

  • moarscienceplz

    Argh! italics fail!

  • timberwoof

    The Constitution guarantees everyone certain rights; they do not include the right to have a law passed by popular initiative stand even though it violates those rights. Stated a different way, no, you don’t have a Constitutional right to pass a law that takes away rights granted by the Constitution.

  • dingojack

    Synfandel (#5) – Sorry no can do, Natural Law was borrowed by Nature’s God in 1776 and it hasn’t been seen since.

    :) Dingo

  • StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    @ ^ dingojack : So, wait, which God is “Nature’s God again?

    I’d ask nature for that but the trees and grass ain’t been talking to me much lately.

    (Means I must get drunker I guess?!)

    @Jordan Genso : Best wishes, go get ’em!

    You’d have my vote if I lived in the States or more specifically my hypothetical electorate equivalent of them.