Who Shall Prevail — the Judges or the People?

The California Supreme Court has ruled (by a 4-3 vote) in its supposedly "infinite" wisdom that the California state constitution requires that same-sex couples must have the same right to get married as heterosexual couples do. The California Supreme Court did this in spite of the fact that the people of California voted in a referendum in 2000 that marriage was only to be a man and a woman, thus ruling out not only same-sex marriage, but also polygamy.

Californians voted by a 61 to 39 percent margin to define marriage in this exclusive and specific way. When one examined the referendum votes more closely, marriage "as only between a man and a woman" carried every county in the state, including San Francisco. It also carried virtually every age and ethnic demographic with the single exception of voters between 18 and 25 years of age.

The California justices brushed the wishes of the state's electorate aside with seemingly little, if any, discomfort. Fortunately, it appears that there will be a constitutional amendment on the ballot this November. This amendment initiative would allow the people of California to give their Supreme Court further instructions on how they would have themselves to be governed in the matter of what constitutes marriage.

If they amend their constitution to define marriage as only between a man and a woman, they will have struck a blow for democratic government. They also will have won a victory for government "of the people, by the people, and for the people," instead of imperial rule by judges who seem to have little, if any, compunction about overriding the clear wishes of the people if the people dare to disagree with the judges' "enlightened" social values.

This column originally published at Casting Stones, a blog hosted by Beliefnet.com.


Dr. Richard Land is president of The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, the Southern Baptist Convention's official entity assigned to address social, moral, and ethical concerns, with particular attention to their impact on American families and their faith.