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2.20.2004

Andrew Sullivan weighs in on gay marriage in San Francisco 

Here's what he has to say about mayor Gavin Newsom allowing gay couples to get married in San Francisco:



The marriages will continue. Most people seem to agree with me that the gay couples getting married in San Francisco are engaged in a classic example of civil disobedience. They do not know the legal validity of their marriages, and San Francisco has advised them as such. The marriages are almost certainly legally unenforceable. They are doing this primarily to demonstrate their desire for marriage and the justice of their cause. It's the symbolism they're after; and the symbolism is having a huge impact (look at the hysteria it is provoking on the right). I think there would be no more perfect move than to jail some of these couples for daring to get married. It would be a spectacle of civil disobedience that would, I think, help their cause even further. Bring on the fire-hoses and police dogs!

....

Now, I'm not a constitutional lawyer, let alone an expert on California's state constitution, so I don't know how valid Newsom's argument is. But if he is found in violation of his oath of office, then I see no reason why he shouldn't be prosecuted, or impeached or face any other sanction for behaving illegally. And court hearings and challenges will continue to determine this. He should not be above the law, just as Judge Moore wasn't. But Newsom is also entitled to act according to his conscience and to his own reading of the state constitution's guarantees of equal protection, just as Moore was. If he is found guilty of violating his oath of office, he should face the consequences. Somehow I think one of them might be re-election in a landslide.



Folks would be wise to remember that civil disobedience in the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr. evinces respect for the rule of law, though not for the particular law being broken. If some of these couples do end up getting arrested, they would serve their cause best by submitting to the authorities, as Sullivan indicates.

San Francisco being San Franciso, though, I have an uneasy feeling that the ultra-leftists are going to hijack this movement and turn it into an unsightly spectacle, just as they did with the anti-war movement.

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