There are two sides to our country's ever-swirling debate regarding same-sex "marriage." Both sides genuinely advocate their positions, and the debate has found its way into every corner of our society-churches, schools, media, legislatures, and ballot boxes, just to name a few places. And not unlike presidential elections and other contests, the feelings on both sides run deep.
When this debate began to percolate in California, the citizens of California did that most American of things-they voted. In America, we respect and uphold the right of free people to make policy choices through the democratic process-especially ones that do nothing more than uphold the definition of marriage that has existed since long before this country was founded. That's why superficial comparisons of marriage amendments to discriminatory race-based laws don't work. This vote had nothing to do with race, which does not involve behavior. Marriage between members of different races is still marriage between one man and one woman, and that's all the people of California-together with 30 other states across the nation-want to protect.
Indeed, the vote over Proposition 8 was no different from other votes across this country. The matter found its way onto the ballot because millions of voters signed a petition so that the matter could be considered. Two distinct political "camps" developed, and the public debate lasted for months, with each side getting the full, free, and fair opportunity to make its case known to the voters. Then, on November 4, 2008, over 13 million voters voted their conscience.
Sounds like a government of, by, and for the people. So, you may ask, what gives a single federal judge the right to discard it all? Well, we're asking the same thing.
Judge Vaughn Walker ruled, among other things, that not one single person who voted for Proposition 8 had any rational reason for so doing. Yes, if you voted in favor of marriage in any of the states that have taken up this question, you've now been officially labeled as an irrational bigot, your voice being "nothing more than a fear or unarticulated dislike of same-sex couples," according to Judge Walker. He declared that your vote was "discrimination based on unfounded stereotypes and prejudices" and that to contend otherwise is to "mask" your true intentions. (By the way, that also goes also for the 84 percent of Congress who voted in favor of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. They also had no rational reason to vote for marriage and, according to Judge Walker, possess beliefs that are mere "artifact[s] of time.")
Whatever your opinion on the subject, it is simply not credible to say that tens of millions of Americans from west to east, north to south, red states and blue states who have universally and unanimously affirmed the definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman have beliefs that are simply, as Judge Walker wrote, "based only on antiquated and discredited notions of gender."
And what about children, you ask? Good question. Judge Walker talked about them too, concluding that "the evidence shows beyond any doubt that parents' genders are irrelevant to children's developmental outcomes." So, to every mother in our country-apparently you no longer matter for your kids, and you, as a woman, bring nothing unique to the "table" of child-rearing. According to Judge Walker, any average American man can adequately fill your shoes. Yet, we all instinctively know that all the love in the world doesn't turn a man into a mother, and vice versa. To completely dismiss the idea that children need mothers and fathers is a slap in the face of, indeed, every mother and father around the world.
In his zeal to make his mark in judicial history, Judge Walker neglected to remember the historical purpose and form of America-a nation of, by, and for the people. The people made this decision, and though one judge in San Francisco may disagree with their decision, we know that this case is bigger than anyone who ignores the law and puts himself above the people of California. In fact, this case has just begun, and ADF and the rest of the ProtectMarriage.com legal team plan to win it. We hope that all Americans who object to being maligned in this way will not be bullied either.
This column originally appeared on HumanEvents.com.