Monday, July 10, 2006

A victory in disguise

While some gay people are upset that the New York State Supreme Court did not legalize gay marriage last week, the Wall Street Journal reflects my view exactly:

Contrary to the willful Judge Kaye, we suspect future generations may view last week's ruling as a blessing in disguise for gay rights. The last thing advocates should want is to have gay marriage imposed on a skeptical public by a judicial order that would inspire a political backlash and make compromise impossible. This is precisely what happened with abortion after the U.S. Supreme Court peered into the Constitution's "emanations" and "penumbras" and overturned 50 state laws in Roe v. Wade.

Leaving the debate to legislatures will also mean politicians will have to come out of the closet themselves, so to speak. They will have to declare themselves on the issue rather than hiding behind the courts. Already in New York, Democratic candidate for Governor Eliot Spitzer has announced his support for gay marriage, while Senator Clinton has angered some activists by saying she favors civil unions for gays but not outright marriage.

If gay activists want to persuade New Yorkers and other fair-minded Americans to come around to their view, there is a traditional way to do that: hard work and commitment to the democratic process.