« Leib on Taiwan and China | Main | Maybe She Should Be On Trial Too? »

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Better to Be Right, or Have Rights?

Burt Neuborne has a piece in The Nation (Yarmulke Tip: Eugene), in which he essentially argues that liberals have become too reliant on courts and have failed to follow through with grass-roots mobilization. I agree. But I'd go even further: the better path is to start with grass roots mobilization, and move to courts only after building a strong base.

Example: Same-sex marriage. As a political matter, I strongly favor same-sex marriage for the reasons articulated by Andrew Sullivan and Jonathan Rauch. I also believe that the constitutional Equal Protection argument (based on Loving v. Virginia) is very compelling. However, I fear that pressing these cases in courts--even in relatively "friendly" states (VT, MA, CT, CA, etc)--may do a great deal of damage in the long run, both to the fight for same-sex marriage itself and for liberalism generally.

Witness: after the Mass. Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage, numerous states passed laws and referenda restricting marriage and civil union laws; Republicans even pushed for a constitutional amendment, which may only have failed because McCain and others determined that an amendment was premature--not wrong, just premature. And it probably hurts liberals at the polls.

So what to do? I think the key for same-sex marriage advocates is to push for marriage rights legislatively, and spend energies continuing to build the grass-roots movement. Indeed, much as I hate the idea, it may be worth dropping the same-sex marriage fight altogether for the moment, and focusing instead on strong civil unions. I would only accept civil unions that offer all of the benefits of marriage (save the name).

In some ways, this idea is odious for those of us who support same-sex marriage as a matter of constitutional equality. But I ask this: In this case, is it better to be right, or to have rights?

Posted by Hillel Levin on April 12, 2005 at 04:19 AM in Law and Politics | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Better to Be Right, or Have Rights?:

» Sanity and Insanity from The Debate Link
Charles Krauthammer has a very interesting column on the judiciary in today's Washington Post (Orin Kerr, among others, with the link). There were loads of points made, some which will anger liberals and others which are clear shots at conservatives.... [Read More]

Tracked on Apr 22, 2005 8:10:38 PM


The comments to this entry are closed.