Bloody Gay Pride Parades?

I woke this morning to find the Net all a-twitter over Governor Christie's proposal to place same-sex marriage up for a vote on the New Jersey November ballot. Christie inflamed progressives by suggesting that the Civil Rights movement might have been better served by confining itself to the ballot box rather in favor of physical confrontation:
The fact of the matter is, I think people would have been happy to have a referendum on civil rights rather than fighting and dying in the streets in the South.
Like New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney, Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver erupted in fury over the idea of putting basic civil rights up for a popular vote:
Gov. Christie better sit down with some of New Jersey’s great teachers for a history lesson, because his puzzling comment shows a complete misunderstanding about the civil rights movement. . . . It’s impossible to ever conceive that a referendum on civil rights in the South would have been successful and brought justice to minorities. It’s unfathomable to even suggest a referendum would have been the better course. . . . Governor –- people were fighting and dying in the streets of the South for a reason. They were fighting and dying in the streets of the South because the majority refused to grant minorities equal rights by any method. It look legislative action to bring justice to all Americans, just as legislative action is the right way to bring marriage equality to all New Jerseyans. The governor’s comment is an insult to those who had no choice but to fight and die in the streets for equal rights.

Oliver appears a bit confused about history herself. If it took "legislative action" to address the problem, isn't that closer to a solution by referendum than by violence? Perhaps what she's thinking is that the legislative action never would have happened if it hadn't been spurred by violence. Christie's opposing suggestion is that putting the issue to a popular vote early on might have removed the need for the violence. It's never easy to know when people must burst out of the system into personal rebellion or even violence in order to protect their essential freedoms, as our host so often suggests is our duty. Oliver sounds like a woman who needs to think about that dilemma more carefully.

My guess is that Oliver really is trying to argue that legislative action sometimes has to be imposed from outside the local jurisdiction, because the local majority can't be trusted to vote for justice for an oppressed minority. Or she may be suggesting that legislators are wiser than the unwashed public that elects them. If she were sorting through her issues more thoughtfully, she might even argue that nationwide majorities are not always trustworthy, and therefore legislative solutions must give way to judicial, Constitutional action if proponents of same-sex marriage are to obtain real relief.

In the meantime, does Ms. Oliver really want to argue that gays should take up arms rather than work with the system to obtain the rights they believe are due to them?

A second wave of twittering followed Christie's calling a gay lawmaker a "numbnuts," presumably a hate crime. I like this Christie guy, even if at one time he didn't have any more sense than to believe in non-heliocentric cosmic climate metaphysics, or at least to try to take advantage of the tax revenues it might generate for his strapped state.


Grim said...

Ms. Oliver has left out an important adjective. It took Federal legislation to impose those civil rights; the South would never have voted for it, not at least in the generation in which it occurred.

Yet that isn't quite right either, because having passed the legislation, the government still had to impose it by force. It took the National Guard, and a second military occupation of parts of the South.

This is why there simply is no comparison between 'gay rights' and civil rights. The toolset used to address slavery and the oppression of blacks in America is extremely powerful. It was justified to address an evil that was equally powerful.

The demands here are not of the same kind. Gays can now serve openly in the military. They can craft contracts that mimic marriage legally; it can hold ceremonies that mimic the sacramental ceremony. It can, among itself, refer to mutual husbands and mutual wives as such, and it will even find support outside its own community in doing so.

What they want is to be able to do these things more easily, and with wider social acceptance than they already have. That's a very different situation from the one that obtained among blacks in the South in the early 1960s.

BillT said...

Sheila Oliver is somewhat notorious here in Joisey for her -- to put it gently -- chutzpah:

"Handing out checks in the back room isn’t going to make anybody the speaker of the New Jersey General Assembly. I will never, ever engage in the kind of subversive, clandestine, back-door manipulation."

Uh, Sheila? Isn’t that how you got the job two years ago?

Dad29 said...

Meantime, Mark Levin tells us that Christie's "put it to a vote" language means that Christie doesn't have the stones to simply say NO.