Gay Marriage and Politicians Going In Your Face With the People Who Elected Them

When a government starts changing the date for votes to avoid its own people, something is wrong.

This is evidently what is happening in France concerning the move to legalize gay marriage. According to a Reuters news report, the French government moved the date for a vote on legislation to legalize gay marriage to avoid a big rally set by opponents for later this month.

The French people responded with a hastily-put-together rally to which “only” 50,000 people were able to come.

When a government starts re-scheduling votes on major legislation for the purpose of avoiding its own people, it clearly is time for that government to take a good, long, look at itself. There is a tendency for governments to take an in-your-face attitude toward their own citizens whenever and wherever they legalize gay marriage.

In the debate over legalizing gay marriage in New Zealand, an MP made an extremely witty and intelligent speech which, despite the good fun of it, did essentially that.This MP has become an international sensation and the toast of the media. I’ve read that he’s even going to have a guest spot on Ellen.

While I enjoyed his speech, I also saw through it to the core reason behind it: He was going in-your-face with his constituents, and exhorting his colleagues to do the same. I’ve sat in on a number of witty and intelligent speeches urging legislators to ignore their constituents. I remember quite clearly watching and listening while Democratic House Speakers in the Oklahoma Legislature urged the passage of large tax increases which the public had made abundantly clear they did not want.

These tax increases were passed largely for one special interest.

The short-term result was that the tax increases went through, a number of Democratic legislators lost their house seats to Republicans, but the Democrats maintained their huge dominance in state government. The long-term result was that Oklahoma is now the reddest of red states in the Union.

Aside from the simple shift in party politics, this has meant replacing one set of special interests for another in our government. The process of going in-your-face with the electorate on behalf of these special interests has already begun again, just from a different direction.

When a government starts dipping and dodging, running and hiding to avoid contact with the people it governs, there is something seriously wrong with its governance. When legislators take to the floor to lecture the electorate on their ignorance for opposing what that legislator is doing, there is something out of whack with that action.

It is so easy for government by consent of the governed to turn into an elected dictatorship. There’s no great trick to standing up and giving a four-minute speech aligning yourself with an issue that is being hard-sold by the media against your constituents. It gives you the chance to be, as this mp has become, the statesman du jour. Often the celebrity will carry you over any anger your constituents might feel.

I don’t know about this particular MP, but it’s entirely possible that he isn’t going so much in-your-face with his constituents as he is those of his colleagues. He may represent an area that either supports what he is doing, or that is willing to re-elect him despite it. If that is true, what he is doing here is lecturing his colleagues’ constituents and convincing these same dim-witted colleagues to go against their own people.

I see a lot of that, too. Extreme liberals push more moderate Democrats into suicidal votes. Extreme conservatives push more moderate Republicans into the same sort of thing. The interesting thing is that the extremists get re-elected because of the districts they represent, while the ones they push into these votes get defeated.

I don’t know that this will happen in New Zealand. But I do know I’ve seen it happen over and over again here in America.

As for France, when you have a national government re-scheduling a vote to avoid contact with the people it governs, something is really wrong with that government. If you’re an elected official, and you are doing something that the people you govern find so egregious that you have to hide from them to do it, you’re not doing your job right.

I’m going to put an excerpt from the Reuters article below and a link to the New Zealand mp’s speech below that. Notice that, despite the sarcasm and humor of this mp’s speech, he really doesn’t say anything of substance.

From Reuters:

PARIS (Reuters) – Thousands of gay marriage opponents wavingpink and blue flags marched through Paris on Sunday in a last-ditch protest before a law allowing same-sex union and adoption is passed next week.

Chanting “We don’t want your law, Hollande!”, some 50,000 protesters massed behind a banner reading: “All born of a Mum and a Dad” and said it was undemocratic to bring about such a fundamental social change without holding a referendum.

Hastily organized after the law’s passage was sped up to circumvent a big rally set for late April, Sunday’s march capped months of protests by a dogged opposition movement that has sullied President Francois Hollande‘s flagship social reform.

“We warned the president back in November that we would not give up and that we would do everything to stop this law being passed, or to get it repealed if it is adopted,” one of the protest organizers,Alberic Dumon, told Reuters. (Read the rest here.)

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  • Bill S

    It doesn’t matter how many protesters an organization like the Catholic Church is able to muster up in an attempt to influence politicians and judges. Right is right and wrong is wrong. It is right to tolerate others and it is wrong to discriminate against them. The Catholic Church can not rely on producing large crowds and trying to make it look like these crowds represent the will of the people. People who are for gay marriage might not be as motivated to go out and show their support. They might choose to show their support in the voting booth.

    • Dave

      It’s kind of silly to say that the Catholic Church is the only one drumming up support for traditional marriage. Try to bring up gay marriage in Saudi Arabia, Cameroon, Indonesia, or India and see how far you get. Most cultures, independently of religion, came up with an idea pretty similar to traditional marriage (albeit sometimes with allowing men to marry more than one woman, but a same-sex marriage was never imagined.)

      Even in France, there are likely as many Muslims and “nothings” as there are Catholics marching.

      • Rebecca Hamilton

        Just to add something here, I know quite a few Southern Baptists, Methodists, etc, who aren’t too fond of gay marriage. I even know a couple of gay people who think it’s pretty silly. (Not exactly their words, but close.)

  • Theodore Seeber

    Yep, that’s what I was talking about earlier- when I said I have become more opposed to gay marriage for the political tactics used than for gay marriage itself.

    I wouldn’t vote for any of these activists for dog catcher. Their hatred and bigotry is way too intense.

    • Mark

      It’s amazing that you can say this without irony when it’s the opponents of gay marriage who are beating people up in the streets in France. I have never heard of a supporter of gay marriage beating someone up because they didn’t agree with them. Gay people have been beaten up, bullied and killed for being gay for years in America, and yet they are the hateful ones for asking the right to marry the people they love? Incredible.

      I think God knows who the hateful ones are here. What was it Jesus said about he who throws the first stone?

      • Rebecca Hamilton

        Mark, I know that gay bashing can be a problem. I have read that there were incidents of violence against gay people, but I don’t know how widespread they were. Gay bashing — or any other form of violence against a group of people — is a form of terror tactic practiced by sadists.

        However, that really does not mean that the government should run over its people with a vote on something this fundamental. As to the merits of gay marriage as a social experiment, that is a worthy question to debate.

        As to how God judges these people of whom you speak, I can not say. But I have it on pretty good authority that he notes even the hairs of our heads and loves us everyone — gay or straight.

      • Theodore Seeber

        All I know is here in Oregon, you’re far more likely to get beaten up for being against gay marriage than you are for being homosexual.

        • Donalbain


  • Jessica Hoff

    Bill, how do you define ‘right’? Catholics define it according to God’s Law. So it does not matter how many legislators claim most people want something (but never ask them directly) it doesn’t make it ‘right’. You can, as they do in my country, claim a man can be a wife, it doesn’t make him one.

    • Bill S

      “Bill, how do you define ‘right’? Catholics define it according to God’s Law.”

      When you do the right thing, you do to someone else what you would want them to do to you.

      There really is no such thing as “God’s Law” unless you define God as the creator of the universe and credit him with the laws of nature such as gravity, electromagnetism, etc.

  • FW Ken

    The Catholic Church in France is largely marginalized; to suggest that the Church is behind the French reaction to same-sex marriage it’s silly.

  • Don

    I’m gay, and I think gay marriage is ridiculous. Rep. Hamilton gives a good example of short-term, long-term. For the short-term gain of feeling good about ourselves, GLBT people will ensure a long-term result of marriage devastation, particularly among the lower classes. Many of our social pathologies (and their economic effects) can be attributed to the destruction of family norms in the lower classes of all races. As a gay man, I understand that I need a society with law, order, and authority. That’s the only society that will enable me to live my “alternative” lifestyle in peace. That being said, I don’t think we would have come to this if heterosexuals had held themselves to high standards when it comes to divorce, contraception, and abortion. In particular, no-fault divorce helped fuel “gay marriage.”

    • Dave

      Don….good points. It was heterosexuals that destroyed marriage. Now gays are looking at the smoldering remains of what is left of marriage and saying, “why can’t we have that? It doesn’t look any different than what we do.”

    • Theodore Seeber

      COMPLETELY agreed!!! I’m way more against divorce than I care about anything the homosexuals do.

  • TheReluctantWidow

    Rebecca, I think elected officials ignoring the electorate will continue to be a problem as long as their campaign “war chests” are funded almost entirely by special interest groups. Right now it’s gay marriage and gun control as the country’s hot button topics. A couple of years ago it was universal healthcare coverage. There will be other issues in the future. I know most politicians don’t like term limits, but a lot of the electorate do because at least there is an end in sight for new representatives. We might even get more contested elections rather than one party or another not putting forth a candidate because someone has been in their seat for 20 years and has a boatload of money to spend in an election. My personal opinion is that politics should never be a lifetime career but an act of temporary service to your community, state, or country. Then, maybe, the people might truly be represented.

  • hazemyth

    This trope that the French government is behaving irresponsibly or undemocratically completely ignores the fact that polls consistently show a majority of French citizens supporting the new law, despite how vocal opponents may be.

    On the other hand, elected officials taking stands on social issues against their constituents’ wishes (and hence against their own self-interest in getting re-elected) usually do so out of principle. There’s nothing evil or dictatorial about it. If you agreed with their principles, you might even admire it. If you don’t, you can vote them out next time around.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      hazemyth, I answered you first point on another comment. Here is what I said:

      I haven’t tracked the polls, but I think that particular number was a high water mark that has fallen considerably, down to around 50% or less, depending on the poll. The question concerning using assisted technology (farming women’s bodies for eggs and using them as surrogates, among other things — I’m going to address the inherent misogyny in that later) had, in the last poll I saw, fallen to well below 50%. Since it was voted on as a package, anyone with brains would have to take the lower number.

      That gives a good example of why governing by the polls — which is what you seem to be advocating — is bad governance. Polls only reflect passing moods in the electorate. Laws have to stand up a bit longer than that.

      As for your second point, my experience (and I have quite a lot of it) in dealing with elected officials is that when the go against their constituents, it’s usually either for money or because the party machinery that essentially owns them tells them to. People sometimes go against their constituents for principle, and I would guess that it happened in scattered votes in this instance. But I’d bet the ranch that the reason most of these votes came down as they did fall into one of the two reasons I gave.

  • MikeN

    Since the lik at Patheos just says this is about politicians flouting voters’ preferences I thought this was going to be about Senators caving into the NRA despite 80% of the US population supporting background checks