The Gay Rights Movement’s Pyhrric Victory



Will writes from Washington, D.C. (well, Arlington, Virginia). You can reach him at willblogcorrespondence at gmail dot com.

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32 Responses

  1. Avatar Katherine says:

    If courts shouldn’t be used to overthrow unconstitutional laws – whether those laws are made by a legislature or by public referendum – they why do courts have that jurisdiction in the first place? The recent Supreme Court case on gun laws threw out a lot of gun restrictions passed legislatively, presumably with voter support, and there isn’t some giant kerfuffle about people have “cheated” or defied democracy on that one.Report

    • @Katherine, Well, there was such a kerfuffel, it’s just that the group complaining about it has close to exactly zero overlap with the group complaining about this decision.Report

    • Avatar Tyler in reply to Katherine says:


      I’m with Katherine here. Just because a majority people want something doesn’t make it right. People make bad laws all the time, the purpose of the courts are to be check on that. That people don’t like that, is to my mind, irrelevant.Report

      • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Tyler says:


        The problem Will identifies is not one of justice, but of timing and tactics in achieving a form of justice that will last.

        I’ve read the whole decision now. I find it very persuasive, well-reasoned, and necessary given the facts as presented in the case. I’m not always comfortable with either marriage as a status or with suspect classes, but both of these seem to have been forced on the court by legal necessity, so I’ll let them go.

        The real question is whether this was the right time to bring a lawsuit — by which I mean only: Given the suit’s timing, is the outcome likely to last? I fear that it won’t.Report

  2. Avatar Jaybird says:

    It’s only a Pyrrhic victory if it results in a Constitutional Amendment, no?Report

  3. Avatar Bo says:

    It’s like a pyrrhic victory, only the winners of it are apparently destined to win in the long term too.Report

  4. As a conservative I think I’m moving pretty quickly past trying to fight off SSM, which seems inevitable in one way or another, towards fighting a rear-guard action (no pun intended) to protect the conservative legacy regarding this struggle. The Right has been unfairly maligned for 40 years regarding our position during the Civil Rights Movement, mostly because a few disgruntled Dixeicrats found a home in the GOP after desegregation. Opposition to gay marriage has transcended political labels, race, religion, etc. The problem is that if the Left has it their way this entire debate will be distilled down to, “A bigoted minority of Republicans were the only ones who fought gay marriage and see how silly they look now when it’s been the law of the land for 20 years.” Luckily there is a long list of state bans on gay marriage to point to as evidence that opposition was the majority opinion.Report

  5. Avatar Rufus says:

    Isn’t it possible that it’s a Pyrrhic victory until it goes to the Supreme Court, where it gets overturned, but then that turns out to be a…. well, I guess the opposite equivalent would be a “Voorhean Defeat” (after the killer in the Friday the 13th movies who never dies)? I think a big part of Prop. 8 passing was that gay rights groups didn’t really expect it to pass, and sort of lacked the necessary vehemence vis-a-vis the anti-SSM crowd; but I have a strong feeling that the ‘enthusiasm gap’ has now been closed. Moreover, for people who are on the fence about this, I suspect that seeing the vehemence of gays to win this right might push them to a ‘no’ vote when another anti-SSM proposition comes along.Report