In the midst of SF’s last mayoral election, Gavin Newsom looked practically conservative opposite Matt Gonzalez. Newsom’s hair was too shellacked — shiny hair is usually a dead giveaway for a phony — and his musical tastes sounded flat compared to Gonzalez’ (next to hair, musical predilection is the most important barometer of political integrity). Now Newsom is spearheading civil disobedience on a mass scale.
I am an adamant supporter of gay marriage, and feel strongly that anything less than full marriage is a violation of civil rights. To deny full marriage rights to gays is to treat them like second class citizens. Because I feel that current law is morally wrong on this point, civil disobedience becomes an option.
But, unlike a protest, where an individual can go out and lock themselves to a tree or train track, homosexual couples cannot go out and get married to protest the moral bankruptcy of the system that disrespects their humanity. People can’t issue themselves marriage licenses. On the other hand, politicians can, and Newsom has.
But here’s the dilemma: Even though I agree that this act of civil disobedience by a politician is necessary, I also believe, for the most part, in the rule of law. The question is, should a politician be able to disobey the law on a mass scale because s/he disagrees with it?
Look what happens when the shoe is on the other foot, as it has been throughout Bush’s presidency. Start with this statement: “Pre-emptive war is illegal and immoral.” That did not stop Bush from invading Iraq and creating the current quaqmire. Thing is, you can examine examples of politicians not respecting the rule of law left and right and feel differently about each example depending on your own leanings and interpretations.
In my heart, I am bursting with respect for Newsom for taking these steps. He rocks. Gay marriage should not be a curiosity, should not even be an issue. It should simply be normal. It should always have been normal. There is no non-religion-based, rational argument to be made against gay marriage. It is long past time for this change, and if people like Newsom have to lay their figurative bodies across the train tracks to make it happen… I have so much respect for that.
But my head still tells me we need to be cautious of renegade politicians taking the law into their own hands. At the political level, I don’t see how I can reject Bush’s dismissal of the rule of law but simultaneously accept Newsom’s. At the personal level, it’s quite a different matter, because at the personal level we can take intentions and motivations into account, mitigating or overriding strict interpretations of law.
All I know is that right now I am exhilarated to see this issue gaining national momentum, being discussed, chewed on. It’s like a race now, to see whether Bush can amend the Constitution before the rest of the nation realizes that current prohibitions against gay marriage are the segregated South of the current era. Power to the people, right on.