Image from SimpsonCrazy
I've read a lot of comments about the passage of Proposition 8 in California (the measure that stripped same-sex couples of the existing right to marry). A lot that I've read is quite simply appalling. Some of it is bigoted. Some of it is from people who simply aren't getting a basic point. That point is, that the tyranny of the majority is not supposed to be able to trample on the rights of a minority in the United States.
But the point gets lost in the emotion and good ol' holy-rollin' spew of anti-gay rhetoric (and righteous indignation from the supporters of same-sex marriage). Many people--for unclear reasons--don't find the argument persuasive. They don't consider homosexuality analogous to civil rights for ethnic groups or religious groups, or for women. Fine. Then let me lay out an analogy that is a little closer, m'kay?
Imagine a state similar to Utah, one dominated by a religion that most do not consider mainstream. In this state, the dominant religion has some prohibition against a specific human trait--pick one--left handedness, dwarfism, albinos, red heads, people with freckles, vegetarians, whatever. In most of those cases, the trait is inborn, as I believe homosexuality is. But if you don't believe that, use vegetarians. Or for the better analogy, southpaws, who may be born that way but theoretically can change or at least change their behavior. Follow me?
Now, imagine that in this state, public sentiment has turned against this group, and has decided that they shouldn't be a party to something the rest of the state is allowed to do. Marriage is the obvious example, but I'm sure you can think of others. Because this state is populated with enough public support for a prohibition of this group's inclusion in the activity, they propose an amendment to their state's constitution, and it passes. And so, left handed people in the state of Hypothetica are now banned from marriage. Because the majority says so.
Or, maybe the left handed people of Hypothetica are already brow-beaten into not raising a fuss. So the elders of the church encourage their members to send money to another state to prevent the marrige of southpaws there. But they don't include the name of their religion in the campaign or advertising, and they don't officially as a religion have anything to do with it. Nonetheless,
80% 50% [sorry, originally over-stated a bit] of the money poured into the effort comes from members of their church.
This is the crux of what has happened. A big, but minority religion, has flexed its muscle, and gotten one of its beliefs codified into a state constitution, at the expense of the rights of a minority group. And while I'm not a big fan of "slippery slope" arguments, it is not unreasonable to believe that such a religion--having gotten a very appetizing taste of power--might try again.
In Hypothetica, they might try to ban the right for left-handed people to cohabitate. They might ban them from adopting kids. They might ban them from. . .who knows. . .drivers' licenses, while we're being hypothetical.
Now, do you think it is unreasonable that gay people are upset about this? Do you see why they might be protesting? Do you see why they might be a little angry at the very un-hypothetical church that organized this thing?
End of rant.
UPDATE: It occurred to me, after writing this post, that this is kind of a new wrinkle in the "tyranny of the majority." Here we have a minority religion, teaming up with two majority religions (Evangelical Christians and Catholics, making strange bedfellows indeed) influencing the majority to stomp on the rights of the minority. That's the tyranny of a minority over a majority over a minority! Possibly a first?