Friday, March 19, 2004

Soft facts

I mentioned a couple of days ago the danger of building opinions based upon soft facts. CBS News, without shock, is guilty of furthering the problem.

Not content with conducting a poll on same-sex marriage to try to find out what the American people truly think, CBS cooks the question before the data has a chance to be gathered.

Ask my teenage children - do you support same-sex marriage? You will get a yes or no. Ask if they support same-sex marriage or do not to such a degree that it should be made illegal by the federal government or should the matter be left to the several states to decide, and the answer (following a predictable condemnation of the poorly constructed question) may change.

That is exactly what CBS News did. It is shameful.

Draw a similarity to capital punishment. Should Mr. Smith be put to death in accordance with state law for killing those six children? Yes. Should Mr. Smith be put to death for killing other people even though we have documented evidence that the execution procedure is repeatedly administered in what can only be termed a cruel and unusual manner? Um, let me think ...

CBS News should be ashamed. An issue like same-sex marriage cannot be a state issue. The federal constitution requires every state to recognize the laws and contracts of all other states. The federal DOMA cannot solve that - it is a legislative act that attempts to change the constitution. Can't happen. State DOMAs cannot solve the issue - they will run afoul of the federal constitution. We are left with one solution - amend the federal constitution to give the feds jurisdiction over the definition of marriage, or leave it to the states. In the latter alternative, four judges sitting in Massachusetts can (and perhaps have) decided the issue for all fifty states' legislatures.

I don't think a democracy is meant to allow four judges - unelected - to have the power to decide an issue for almost 300,000,000 people across 50 states and an assortment of protectorates.

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