Waiting for the American people is not the answer to same-sex marriage debate

To the Editor:

I am the last person to claim an entirely optimistic or idealistic stance on many issues, but the contents of Eric White’s column (“Both sides off-track on same-sex marriage,” 2/2) represent a passive apathy that I find absolutely distressing.

The question of same-sex marriage may be, for White, something particularly innocuous, not pressing at all. But for those of us whose lives this will impact directly in the future — and for many others who see the deliberate prejudice involved — this is not a pragmatic question. It is a question of civil rights. Would White also have suggested, at the time of the civil rights movement, that Martin Luther King Jr. was ahead of his time, pushing (apparently harmfully) for immediate action? Would White have advocated passive waiting for Joe Schmoe in Middle America to “accept” black people? I draw a parallel between these two events not just to make a point about the often effective results of action, but also because the two cases are absolutely identical in content.

Indeed, Congress, which apparently, according to White, consistently reflects the precise will and needs of the people, is already addressing the issue. The Defense of Marriage Act and a proposed constitutional amendment — would these not be acts of Congress? To presume that what is on the minds of the people of this country is what rings in the halls of the Capitol is preposterous. Firstly, America is not and never has been a direct democracy. And without arguing to what extent American politics are corrupt, we can all admit that those made on Capitol Hill are a far cry from those that would be made if Schmoe were in power.

And indeed, if we were to just all sit around and “at least agree to ignore the Massachusetts Supreme Court and leave the Constitution alone,” and the “American people” then decided that a ban on same-sex marriage should be integrated into the Constitution, would I be satisfied that “the people had spoken”? If this were the case, we would once again prove that sometimes “the people” are just plain wrong. It is the work of enlightened activists and politicians — apparently White not included — to make society better and equal for all.

Jessamyn Blau

February 2, 2004

The writer is a staff columnist.

Comments

  • Darius_Dale

    Wow.

    Big Government Intervention strikes again… did anyone in D.C. or New Haven bother to read Atlas Shrugged? I’m guessing not many.

    I think we can all agree that hazing can be an issue and it sucks to be hazed. That said, however, I don’t think chanting stupid things like “No means yes… etc.” and/or sexually harassing members of the community constitute as “hazing”. That’s just plain stupid [and wrong] behavior. Preventing kids from rushing fraternities in the fall does absolutely nothing to address the structural issue at hand here – which is the misbehavior of students in group settings.

    When people congregate together in groups, they feel bolder and more willing to take risks with regards to their behavior. It’s human nature to have one’s perception of right vs. wrong become distorted in a group setting.

    Unfortunately, this is college and, until the high committee decides to impose an outright ban on groups in a Senator McCarthy-esque regulatory change, the underlying problem of drunk kids acting silly in social settings will remain.

    Jumping ship, it’s clear to me that this is a broad-based attack SPECIFICALLY on Greek life at Yale. As a brother of a Yale fraternity, I am both disgusted and disheartened that the administration would be so bold as to single out fraternities and sororities with such punitive regulation. While certainly not to the same degree and scope, this reeks of the Jim Crow era we’ve worked so hard as a society to move away from.

    I am deeply saddened by this horrible attack on so many undeserving people (yes, not all members of fraternities and sororities are evildoers – gasp!). To create adverse conditions for one group of individuals de facto creates an improvement in conditions for other groups on a relative basis. How the highly-educated members of the Yale Board could overlook this incredibly simple relationship is far beyond me and my lowly B.A. in Political Science.

    All told, I hope those who’ve been kind enough to labor through my comments can takeaway one simple message: demonizing Greek life at Yale is not the answer to the issues we face today. If the high committee truly wants to improve the quality of life for the ENTIRE Yale community, they can start by:
    A) Treating ALL members of the Yale community equally with regard to opportunity and regulation (i.e. you can’t just explicitly sweeten life for normies and non-Greeks); and
    B) Enforce the damn rules already! If kids actually feared they could get kicked out of school for acting stupid, perhaps there would be far fewer incidents of general misbehavior, etc.

    Have a blessed day and remember, Big Government Intervention is not the answer to all of life’s problems.