Christian Wentling’s recent piece (“Civil Rights and Wrongs,” 11/18/08) on the hypocrisy of the proponents of Proposition 8 betrays his flawed understanding of the issue and of the very nature of our form of government.
First, Wentling claims that democracy “lived up to its expected purpose admirably” with the passage of Proposition 8. Evidently, Wentling fails to remember that we do not live in a pure democracy, but rather a constitutional republic. To quote James Madison: “A pure democracy can admit no cure for the mischiefs of faction. A common passion or interest will be felt by a majority, and there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party. Hence it is, that democracies have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property.” If civil rights, like marriage equality, could legitimately be put up for a vote in our “democratic” form of government, then segregation and Jim Crow would still be the law of the land in many Southern states.
Notwithstanding this, Wentling goes on to commiserate with the Mormons since some opponents of Prop 8 have protested outside of their churches. Apparently, it is hypocritical for protesters to invade the “privacy” of Mormon churches, even though the Mormon Church played an instrumental role in forcing through an amendment that directly interferes with gay people’s personal and private lives. Wentling forgets that the right to protest is one of the most cherished rights Americans possess. Or perhaps what he finds jarring is that Mormons have “been actually nothing but deferential and respectful” while the Prop 8 protesters are angry and vocal. It is mind-boggling that someone who claims to believe in full gay rights can find anything respectable about people who relish writing discrimination into the California constitution and who go out of their way to take away from gay Americans the same rights and privileges that are happily taken for granted by heterosexual Americans.
Finally, Wentling takes issue with the boycotting of businesses that financially supported Prop 8. Wentling should realize that if a business actively supports discrimination against gays, then it is perfectly reasonable for the gay community to withhold its funds from said business and to ask our straight allies to do the same. We cannot be expected to patronize businesses knowing that our money will be used to support legislative initiatives that strip us of our fundamental human rights.
Overall, Wentling demonstrates an understanding of the issue and of our government that is superficial at best.