The Source Of Our Rightsby Doug Mataconis
Massachusettes Governor Mitt Romney is campaigning in favor of that state’s ballot initiative to ban gay marriage, which is on the ballot in July. In the course of his campaigning, he has managed to say something substantive that so blatantly reveals a political philosophy completely at odds with the Founding Fathers.
BOSTON –Gov. Mitt Romney, renewing his support for a ballot question banning gay marriage, said Wednesday it’s the job of voters — not the courts or lawmakers — to define what constitutes a civil right.
“Who’s going to tell us what a civil right is and what’s not? Well, the people will,” Romney said at a news conference calling on lawmakers to allow a vote on a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would ban same-sex marriage here. That vote is scheduled for July 12.
Supporters have long cast same-sex marriage as a civil right that should not be subject to a popular vote, likening it to the desegregation battles of the 1950s and 1960s, where the courts played a central role in expanding rights for blacks.
Yet Romney, during a Statehouse news conference attended by Cardinal Sean O’Malley and other religious and civil leaders, said that in a democracy, nothing is off-limits to voters, even the definition of civil rights.
“We have a Constitution. We can look in there and say, ‘Does it say here you can vote on matters unless someone can define them as civil rights?’ No,” said the Republican governor, a graduate of Harvard Law School who is mulling a presidential run. “It says you vote on all matters in this country and we’ll decide what is a civil right and what’s not. So, fundamentally, we come back to the principle that the people speak.”
He added: “Is there anything more fundamental to the commonwealth and this country than the principle that the power is reserved for the people, that government is the servant, not the master?”
Hmm, well I don’t know Governor Romney, how about this little bit from a guy you may have heard of named Thomas Jefferson:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
If there is one idea fundamental to the American Republic, it is the idea that individual liberty derives not from the will of the majority — whether that be the majority of the people of the Commonwealth of Massachusettes or a majority of the members of the Supreme Court — but is an inherent part of who we are. Individual rights do not need to be recognized by the state to exist, they exist because we are free human beings and if the state fails to recognize them it is the oppressor.