Thursday, 5 August 2010

Is what's right, right?

A few days ago I blogged about the self-determination of Kosovo, and how I did not believe it was right for the ICJ to rule on the country's fate.

This morning there is a story of the courts overturning a clear and present declaration of the will of the electorate, with a Federal Judge overturning the decision of the people of California to disallow same sex marriages.

This presents me with something of a conundrum. As a Libertarian I belive passionately that if two people decide they want to marry, then that is no-one's business but their's. I couldn't care less if these people are of a different or the same gender. It really is nothing to do with me. As long as both parties are content to enter into the marriage and are doing so of their own free will, then nobody else is being harmed, so there is no need for any scrutiny or permission from anyone else.

Indeed I would also say the same about bigamy, if a man or woman wishes to take two or more spouses, then as long as all the parties, existing and prospective, are aware and content, then I see no problem with this.

I was surprised that the people of California decided to reject the concept of same sex marriages. California has always had a reputation as one of the more tolerant states in the Union, but the decision to reject was made clearly by the electorate.

So now comes the conundrum.

Is it right for the electorate to dictate what two people can do with their lives when that decision has no influence on how other people live theirs? I believe not, the freedom of the individual is paramount.

Is it right that the Courts can then go in and overturn the decision of the electorate? I believe not, as a supporter of democracy, the will of 'the people' must be sovereign over the machinery of the State. That apparatus, in a democracy, is there to facilitate the will of 'the people'.

At the risk of sounding like an EU apparatchik, it would have been better had the people of California voted to accept the concept of same sex marriages. In my opinion, they made the 'wrong' decision. However, I have said on a number of previous occasions that in democracy there is no right or wrong decision, merely a decision you agree or do not agree with.

Unfortunately, it seems clear to me that the decision to reject by the people of California can only come down to two issues.

The first is bigotry, that somehow homosexuality is wrong, and despite the fact that the bigot has no intention of engaging in homosexuality, and will not be effected by the act being carried out by two people unconnected to them, they feel that they are in a moral position which requires them to prevent this sort of relationship being given any legitimacy.

This is likely to be underpinned in most cases by the second issue, that being religion. God says it is wrong, therefore we must prevent it. Never mind that should God exist, He is perfectly capable of making his own judgement and implementing his own sanction. Never mind that should God exist, 'His' word is without doubt the word of men who wrote on his behalf, in a rambling text which is contradictory both in content and the way that its adherents apply the lessons contained within.

I find it amazing that even now, this document is being used to determine the way people are permitted to live their lives, even if no hurt is being done to others.

It doesn't help me with my conundrum though. To promote the ignoring of the will of the people because they have come to a decision I do not agree with would make me as bad as those I rail against. To accept that the apparatus of the State can override the will of the people is a concept that I find repugnant, but do I find it as or more repugnant than the idea that the will of the people can prevent peaceful people leading their private lives, with no detriment to anyone else, as they wish?

I don't know.

1 comment:

John R said...

It's a bugger when "life" wont follow the libertarian way isnt it?

Maybe it's cos there are times when you need to have an ethical/moral view on something and not essentially say "anything goes" as long as it goesnt afect me?