Same-sex marriage is back in the news in my state, thanks to an ‘activist’ judge striking down a ban on it, and of course people are arguing that it was properly voted into law by the people and shouldn’t be changed to suit a minority of the population. Which to me misses the point that it is part of the judicial system’s job to strike down unfair laws. And I’d think that would be fairly clear in a political system that with designed with a heavy hand towards checks and balances between the different branches of government. This is hardly the first law passed through proper channels to be struck down by a judge, it won’t be the last, and don’t try claiming that it’s not the judicial system’s job to do so because it absolutely is.
There’s another important issue here too, which is that of majority vs. minority rights. One role of government is to protect those with less power from those with more, which in this case would be non-straight people and their supporters who are a smaller group of voters than those against same-sex marriage, at least in this state. But their numbers do not change the effect that this ban has on the lives on same-sex couples, and those effects cannot be ignored just because more people say that they’re being sinful in their actions. Majority rule is entirely capable of trampling the rights of minority populations, and that’s another reason the system is set up the way it is, to prevent a tyranny of the majority from oppressing minority or disenfranchised populations. If one groups rights are being denied, it really doesn’t matter how many people voted to deny them those rights. Same-sex couples and their families are asking for the same benefits that opposite-sex couples already enjoy, and denying them that provides no benefit to anyone beyond a sense of righteousness at denying them those benefits. This ‘activist’ judge was doing nothing more than his job in striking down a law that he found to deny one group of the rights they deserve.