The PJ Tatler

After Eich, What Is the 'American Way?'

The majorities in California and Texas don’t agree with each other on very much. The two states have radically different social policy perspectives, the party that dominates in one is nearly unelectable in the other, they have near polar opposite views on business, on taxation, on personal liberty versus the “collective good” or whatever you want to call it, on the Second Amendment, you name it. California and Texas just don’t agree on very much. They don’t even agree on what to do with each other, really. Californians apparently want Texans to be just like them, while Texans just mostly want to be left alone.

But as of a few years ago — 2008, to be exact — the majorities in both states did agree on something. The majority of voters in California and Texas both agreed that marriage should be defined as between one man and one woman. Californians ratified that opinion in Proposition 8, which won 52-47. Not a gigantic majority, but a clear majority nonetheless. Texans had ratified that opinion three years earlier, in a state constitutional amendment called Proposition 2. Prop 2’s winning margin was 76% to 24%. 253 of Texas’ 254 counties voted in favor of Prop 2, and thus of maintaining the one-man-one-woman definition of marriage.

In both California and Texas, the pro-same-sex marriage side outspent the traditional side. Yet the traditional side won. The people of both states spoke clearly, as have the majority of voters in states wherever redefining marriage has been put to a vote, with only a couple of exceptions.

Texas’ and California’s votes aren’t going to stand up, though. Despite the clear wishes of the majority of its voters and its obligation to defend its laws, California’s government decided not to defend Prop 8 when gay marriage advocates took it to court. Texas’ government is defending Prop 2 in court, but again, it won’t hold up. If anything, those votes and the effort it took to bring them about will be used as weapons against the majorities who passed them for decades to come.

The definition of marriage as one-man-one-woman is by no means new. It goes back in Western culture several thousand years, all the way back to Genesis 2:24: “For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother, and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” Simple, straightforward, and well understood for millennia.

Those who wanted to codify that definition of marriage in their state laws were not motivated by hatred or “intolerance.” They were motivated first and foremost by an innate conservatism against radical and rapid change to a fundamental institution that had not been adequately explained or limited by those who advocated for the change. Proponents of same-sex marriage have never been able to come up with a coherent case for why, once they win, marriage will not just be redefined by courts again, and again, until it loses all of its meaning. “Because we say so, hater!” is more or less the typical reply one gets when asking why, once courts have deemed the one-man-one-woman definition unconstitutional, they won’t go ahead and redefine marriage to include any arrangement that any number of adults can come up with for whatever reason, once lawsuits demanding such changes get to court. Where is the logical limit — the full end — of the current drive to legalize same-sex marriage by using the courts to create a redefinition that voting majorities clearly oppose? Same-sex marriage proponents have never truly engaged the debate with much good faith or fairness at all. If you stood opposed to what they want, you have typically been called names or told to just get with the times.

Those who wanted to defend that clear and simple and traditional definition of marriage did everything they were supposed to do in the American system of governance. They stuck to the American way. They got a federal law passed, the bipartisan Defense of Marriage Act, that spelled out the federal government’s definition of marriage as one-man-one-woman. They achieved bipartisan consensus; everyone from Franklin Graham to Bill Clinton agreed on DOMA. They organized, raised money, got laws and propositions drafted at the state level. And they won those votes, from Florida to North Carolina to Texas to Arizona to California and elsewhere, fair and square. The people spoke both at the federal level and at the state level, and they spoke up for maintaining the traditional definition of marriage.

But on the activist left, “The people have spoken” only has meaning when the people say what the activist left wants them to say.

The people spoke in Texas, approving voter ID and a new abortion safety law, and the activist left  — within and outside the Obama administration — took both of those laws to court. The same people who defend Obamacare by stating “It’s the law!” are the very same people who constantly attack the Second Amendment and have waged a years-long campaign to redefine marriage, both of which have been among the laws of the land far longer than Obamacare.

The majority of Americans’ opinion on marriage has not proven to matter. The activist left took those state-by-state laws on marriage to court, and activist courts have systematically hammered away at those laws. Prop 8 fell in 2013. Texas’ Prop 2 is also under challenge and fell in federal court in February 2014, pending a stay. Ohio’s ban on recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states is expected to fall this month. Judges have killed traditional marriage laws in Utah, Oklahoma — pretty much wherever those laws were passed by majorities and have been challenged in court. The people spoke, now the judges speak, and the judges are getting the final say. The majorities who voted in favor of those laws have no recourse.

The progress of all this culminated last week in the termination of Brendan Eich at Mozilla. The effects of what happened to him, and is happening to marriage laws generally, are deeply corrosive to the idea of government of and by the people — the American way.

Eich was forced out from his position as CEO of Mozilla, a company he co-founded based on his own inventions, because he donated to support Prop 8 in 2008. He did absolutely nothing wrong. He engaged a debate on a bedrock issue with a very small amount of his own money, as was and is his right. His side did everything they were supposed to do in that debate, by the book and within the law. They organized, they raised awareness, they drafted the referendum, they got out the vote, and they won. At the time that Prop 8 passed it should have delivered a death blow to the same-sex marriage movement. If it couldn’t win in California, it couldn’t win anywhere. In America, all of that is supposed to mean something.

Well, it does mean something. Supporting Prop 2 has not caused anyone in Texas to lose anything, and neither has opposing it. But supporting Prop 8 has become a latter day version of the scarlet letter. Eich got marked out for scorn by Sam Yagan and his board at OkCupid. They agitated and got Eich forced out of a company over which they should have no influence, let alone control. Mozilla’s product user base — it makes Firefox and Thunderbird and has been working on its own operating system — dwarfs OkCupid’s customer base by several orders of magnitude. OkCupid could not even exist in its present form if JavaScript didn’t exist, and Eich invented JavaScript. OkCupid apparently doesn’t even treat its own customers very well.

Yet having done nothing wrong, Eich is out.

The impact of all this will be felt for a long time to come. It may be permanent. We may have moved into a post-democratic America, in which the majority is no longer able or even allowed to express its will if that will does not conform to the most radical notions of the far and hardened left. The people speak, the losers sue, the losers win in court, and then they set about to hunt down a few of the former winners to destroy them to make an example of them. When the majority come back and, say, want to pass a law just to preserve religious freedom in the face of the same-sex marriage movement, they are again pilloried and smeared. Eich was not targeted in court or by any vote. He was targeted for hatred by people dishonestly claiming to be motivated by love and tolerance, and forced out of his job by cowards who deployed Orwellian lies to defend their actions, all while the dishonest media stood by. Well, actually, the media did more than stand by. Eich’s donation was posted online by the Los Angeles Times in a database of Prop 8 donations that has become a weapon in the hands of the belligerent same-sex marriage movement.

It’s difficult to predict where we go from here. You can do all the punditry you want, but if votes no longer matter and majorities are subject to punishment by the angriest people in the country at any given moment, or politics have fundamentally changed. It’s deeply demoralizing to see the majority will cast aside by courts. The majority’s will was serially violated when the Democrats passed Obamacare. The same-sex marriage movement is destroying majority-approved marriage defense laws state-by-state, even as it takes individuals to court over their religious objections to same-sex marriage, and destroys people like Brendan Eich, who did nothing wrong and in fact did everything right by the American way of settling differences. That the same people tried and failed to destroy the CEO of Chick-Fil-A and Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty did not slow them down or cause any introspection on their part at all. It is unlikely to lose them any sleep now, other than over regret at the enemies who went unpunished. But somewhat under the radar, they have set up city governments to go on punishing traditional marriage’s defenders on into the future.

Americans who oppose all this can be sure that they will pay dearly for even the most rudimentary donation or activism, years o decades hence, and they can be just as sure that no law passed in defense of marriage stands a chance of surviving a challenge in an activist court. They can be sure that if their name comes up in a municipal appointment or atop the board of their company, or in a run for public office, any form of past defense of marriage can and will be used against them. Courts and the activist left will ruthlessly undo what the majority of the people ourselves have done.

When the “American way” of governance — articulating a position, organizing around it, putting it to a vote and winning — is no longer operative, and becomes a weapon against those who stay within the system, then who are we? What do we have?