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 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 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

    • Avatar Will says:

      @Jaybird, Well, it could also be a Pyrrhic victory if the ruling hardens anti-gay sentiment.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        @Will, I don’t know but it seems to me that sentiment has been slowly but surely improving over the last couple of decades.

        If this isn’t going to result in a Constitutional Amendment, it’s little more than a bump.

        Big “if”, I know.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

    • Avatar Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

      @Mike at The Big Stick, To “protect the conservative legacy,” you want to point out the GOP had company in being bigoted? That’s a defense???Report

    • Avatar ThatPirateGuy says:

      @Mike at The Big Stick,
      Your biggest problem will be the quotes. Just like it is now with the civil rights movement. That and the whole republicans kept making it a part of the party platform.Report

    • Avatar DWP says:

      @Mike at The Big Stick, it’s nice to know you’ve got your priorities straight. As in, not what’s right or wrong, but what’s going to look good for American conservatism in 40 years’ time. Oh, and by the way, if conservatives feel they’ve been unfairly smeared as bigots, they might want to do something about the bigots in their ranks right now, rather than whine that they’ve been smeared in the past.Report

    • Avatar historystudent says:

      @Mike at The Big Stick, As a conservative too, I am sorry that you feel so apathetic (or however you would like to term it) regarding this situation. I’m also sorry that you view it as you do, because it doesn’t seem a very “conservative” opinion to me. Supporters of Prop 8 are not bigots per se. Some may be, but others, such as myself, support it for the simple reason that marriage is not an institution the definition of which can be changed to include anything but heterosexual bonds. If it is changed to include homosexual relations then it can be changed to include anything else such as polygamous relations, or relations between people and animals or people and inanimate objects. Marriage is one thing and needs to remain that way.Report

      • @historystudent, I think you need to re-read my comment. I was specifically saying that I fear SSM opponents on the Right will be called bigots unfairly. I don’t think most of the opposition has been bigoted. It has been based on logical concerns, some of which are starting to be addressed and some of which I would like to see more time pass on before I would consider them closed.Report

        • Avatar historystudent says:

          @Mike at The Big Stick, Okay, Mike. I guess I was more stuck on your first sentence than you were.

          Proponents of SSM want to distil the argument against into one about bigotry. It is up to those who oppose SSM to make sure they don’t have their way and instead, as you say, steer the debate to the “logical concerns”. I’m glad we agree on that.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