Opinion column: Where’s the democracy?

Illustration Illustration

Illustration Illustration

By Elie Dvorin

Last week, Vice President Dick Cheney angered proponents of a federal constitutional ban on same-sex marriage when he veered from the Bush administration’s stance by saying the institution of marriage historically has been and should be left to the states to decide.

In the wake of an overwhelming majority vote in Missouri that banned same-sex marriage, five other states will vote on a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage while nine more states now are waiting for their legislatures to approve such amendments. Although letting the people decide what laws will come into existence by a statewide referendum is the purest form of democracy, citizens in three states – Michigan, Arkansas and Oklahoma – are being denied their right to vote on the issue by liberal Democrats and the American Civil Liberties Union (liberal Democrats in drag).

Although residents of Michigan submitted 464,243 valid signatures in favor of putting an amendment vote on the ballot, Democrats on the board of canvassers refused to certify the item for the November ballot. The role of the four-person Michigan board is to ensure that rules are followed in the collection of signatures and that the signatures are valid. Although every procedure was correctly followed and more than enough signatures were collected, the two obstructionist Democrats on the board arbitrarily refused to let the public vote on the issue.

“We have to vote our own conscience,” Doyle O’ Connor, one of the Democrats, said. In a classic case of liberal hypocrisy, O’Connor went outside the limits of his jurisdiction and “voted his conscience.” As a result, nobody else in Michigan will be able to vote theirs. Anyone capable of reading between the lines understands the real reason the Democrats prevented the amendment from reaching the ballot – they were afraid it would pass. Whether the amendment would or should pass is irrelevant to the fact that the democratic process was subverted by two politicians with no respect for citizens or the laws of their state.

That said, the ACLU couldn’t help but jump into the ring to ensure that a leftist agenda was promoted at the expense of the people’s right to vote.

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Just as Michigan had planned on doing, the people of Arkansas intended to vote on the same issue in November. When the ACLU began to fear the vote might not turn in favor of its interests, it did what any good American would do when feeling threatened: It filed a lawsuit. The suit claims the title of the proposed amendment, “Amendment Concerning Marriage,” is “misleading toward voters.” The fact the ACLU is confused by that title says something significant about the ACLU, not the issue on the ballot.

Oklahoma, another state with plans to put the same-sex marriage question on the ballot, also is feeling the ACLU’s wrath. The organization filed a lawsuit alleging the proposed amendment is vague and confusing, embraces more than one subject and violates the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights to equal protection and due process. Once again, this has nothing to do with vagueness or confusion and everything to do with liberal politics at the expense of the voter.

It wasn’t long ago the ACLU believed in voting rights for all Americans regardless of party, race, religion or gender. Now their support of voting rights is contingent upon the perceived outcome and whether or not their interests will prevail. The precedent being set by the Michigan Democrats and the ACLU poses a serious threat to democracy. Most Americans, including Sen. John Kerry, Sen. John Edwards and

Cheney support each state’s right to make its own laws regarding gay marriage. The people of this country deserve to have a say on this important social issue. It’s time for these two Michigan Democrats to resign and for the ACLU to address real problems rather than cause them.

Elie Dvorin is a junior in LAS. His column runs Thursdays. He can be reached at [email protected].