When Pigs Fly. Or Something.

SAN FRANCISCO — The California Supreme Court overturned gay marriage in the Land of Fruits and Nuts last week. Meanwhile the, um, corn-fed Iowans upheld gay marriage last month.

That seems more than odd.

Five states (Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, and Vermont) have legalized gay marriage. More than 40 states explicitly ban it.

California has an unusually strong direct democracy. Voters can decide almost any question via propositions and state constitutional amendments. Proposition 8, the gay marriage ban, passed in November.

The California Supremes upheld that Prop 8 was a permissible amendment to the constitution. “The measure carves out a narrow and limited exception to these state constitutional rights, reserving the official designation of the term marriage for the union of opposite-sex couples as a matter of state constitutional law…”

California is not alone in changing its constitution on a whim. Florida had six constitutional amendments on the November ballot.

I generally favor direct action by an electorate. Every citizen votes directly in the classic New England Town Meeting. That works well but it is worth remembering that when the majority tries to teach a pig to sing, that majority ought not also be able to legislate the pig’s pleasure.

It is time states like California and Florida learn that a state Constitution may be a living document but it ought not be one that sways in every breeze. Oh yeah, and that pigs don’t like to sing.

[apologies to Robert A. Heinlein]