Friday, August 24, 2007

Vermont to decide which part of the bus blacks get to sit on

Well, no, they're not.

Instead, they're setting up a commission to determine whether they should upgrade from civil unions to full-blown gay marriage. Their first task is, apparently, to convince people that they haven't already made their decision:
A new commission set up to study whether Vermont should move from civil unions to full marriage for same-sex couples laid out its first goal Thursday: Convince the public it is open-minded enough to hear from both sides on the issue.

Several members of the Vermont Commission on Family Recognition and Protection insisted during the panel's opening meeting that they could put aside their own feelings on the topic and listen to Vermonters with open minds.

"While I have personal beliefs around civil unions and the right to marry ... I think it's pretty clear that the Legislature needs to reflect majority opinion ... and recognize where the state and society are willing to go," said commission member and former lawmaker Helen Riehle.

Gah, I hate all this talk about letting the "majority" decide what rights gay people have. Yes, a democracy is supposedly "majority rule", but... well, I'll let James Polk say it:
By the theory of our Government majorities rule, but this right is not an arbitrary or unlimited one. It is a right to be exercised in subordination to the Constitution and in conformity to it. One great object of the Constitution was to restrain majorities from oppressing minorities or encroaching upon their just rights. Minorities have a right to appeal to the Constitution as a shield against such oppression.

Although maybe in Vermont the majority can make the right decision:
The 2004 exit poll asked respondents to choose between three options for legal recognition of gay and lesbian relationships: full marriage, civil unions or no recognition. Forty percent said they support marriage, 37 percent civil unions and 21 percent neither.

Meh. Anyways... some people aren't too convinced about the gesture the commission is making:
Not everyone was buying the commission's promise to be open-minded, though. Two groups that opposed the first-in-the-nation civil union law when it passed in 2000 and oppose gay marriage now called for their supporters to boycott hearings scheduled for this fall out of fear the commission was stacked in favor of gay marriage.

Because then their opinion gets counted more, right?

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