The Core Civil Right to Vote for Marriage


From my syndicated column this week:

This week, the Proposition 8 trial draws to a close.

This is the trial that never should have been, by a judge who has systematically telegraphed his sympathy for one side.

The lawyer for the plaintiffs is Ted Olson, once a GOP advocate for judicial restraint. Yet this week, he will be pleading with the judge to nullify the votes of 7 million Californians -- and, by extension, the votes of millions of Americans in other states who have exercised their right to vote for marriage as the union of husband and wife.

Perry v. Schwarzenegger is not a case about California law. This is the case that will decide the future of marriage for the entire country.

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I am flying to San Francisco to be there at this historic moment, to live blog the event for the National Organization for Marriage. The last time I was in the Bay Area a few months ago I was sitting in an upscale bar in Oakland talking to a friend. A young woman, pretty, well-dressed, educated, walked over to my table and proceeded to yell at me. "You should be ashamed of yourself!" she said. I looked her in the eye and told her simply I was very proud of the work that I did, although I understood she disagreed. That made her even madder. "You should go South," she sputtered. "Go South, this is San Francisco!"

Actually it was Oakland, but I took her point. It was an illuminating moment. Here was an educated young woman who believed she had a right to purify an entire American city of those who disagreed with her about gay marriage. She behaved in a way that I would describe as uncivilized, but she saw herself as a great champion of civility, of tolerance, and of civil rights.

Ted Olson will talk in court this week like a civilized man. But Ted Olson, as much as any one man, is responsible for the idea that there is no real debate to be had about gay marriage, that all the legitimacy, all the arguments, all the good will and good reasons are on his side. He will be asking this judge to disrespect the views of his fellow Americans, to brand them ignorant, irrational and bigoted, and to take away our right to vote for marriage. And he will be bathed in applause for doing so.

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