To the victors go the spoils, including the right to gloat. “Mitt Romney is the president of a white male America,” chortles columnist Maureen Dowd. And the winners also get to write the history books, but that doesn't give them license to falsify the record.
For instance, it's now fashionable in gay-marriage Maryland to question why Question 6 was on the ballot in the first place. This week, Marylanders for Marriage Equality issued this bit of revisionist thinking: “Rights are rights. They should not be put up for a vote. And we shouldn't have to say 'thank you' when they're recognized.”
Sorry, rights are not self-proclaimed. They come to us by law, not by wishful thinking. Otherwise we'd have anarchy.
We get our rights from our constitutions (federal and state) and from the laws enacted by our legislators and chief executives (federal and state), all subject to judicial review.
You may believe that same-sex marriage is a God-given right but, before now, it was expressly illegal in Maryland. A 1974 state law limited marriage to one man and one woman. When the gay lobby sued, calling the law an unconstitutional violation of the equal-protection clause, Maryland's highest court ruled against the plaintiffs.
That's why the gays went political -- their last hope was to amend Maryland's one man, one woman law to permit two men, two women. Their first effort -- in 2011 -- failed, but this year it passed by a slim margin. However, when more than 160,000 voters petitioned the law to referendum the right to gay marriage hung on the outcome of Question 6.
Instead of proclaiming gay marriage an intrinsic right immune from the democratic process, the gay lobby played by the rules, assembled a powerful political coalition and won at the polls.
The coalition included the NAACP, labor unions, the teachers union, the state Democratic party, university presidents, Hollywood celebrities, athletes, entertainers, national politicians and, to sway black voters, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Julian Bond and a handful of local black ministers. The coalition outspent its opponents 4 to 1, but the greater pro-Question 6 messaging was provided by the media. Voters were inundated with a daily diet of pro-6 editorials, columns, news stories, polls and one-sided “fact-checking.”
All this was driven by a dedicated cadre of gay lawmakers who recruited Gov. Martin O'Malley, pushed the bill through the legislature and masterminded the Question 6 coalition, which swamped its church opposition.
Ironically, most of these gay lawmakers are from Montgomery County which, otherwise, fares poorly in Annapolis. And Montgomery voters, normally oblivious to state politics, provided the winning margin, 65 percent to 35 percent. Without Montgomery, Question 6 loses statewide by 26,096 votes.
Gosh, what if Montgomery County's lawmakers and voters put the same effort into bringing back the county's “fair share” from Annapolis and protecting the county's pocketbook? In this year's General Assembly, Montgomery County's lawmakers surrendered away the state's teacher pension grant, the last funding program primarily benefiting Montgomery. But they brought home gay marriage.
Election Day's victors also write that they're “on the right side of history.” After all, voters re-elected Obama, legalized pot in two states, approved same-sex marriage in three states, upheld abortion laws, elected the first lesbian U.S. senator (Wisconsin) and the first bisexual member of Congress (Phoenix). Also, the national media scored a huge win for its political agenda by controlling what voters saw, heard and believed.
But is America really evolving toward “the right side of history,” or toward moral decline?
What does it mean when there's no outrage when a 45-year-old man who stars on Sesame Street has a sexual relationship with a young man half his age? (Meanwhile, the Boy Scouts are condemned for forbidding homosexual scout leaders.)
What does it mean when it's OK for CIA Director David Petraeus to cheat on his wife? Everybody does it, explain the media commentators. Really?
What does it mean when a new Pew Research poll reports that 20 percent of Americans are “nones” -- they don't belong to any religion? That's in increase from 8 percent in 1990. And a full 30 percent of young Americans now call themselves “nones.”
Unsurprisingly, the “nones” are big on abortion, same-sex marriage and they make up the largest “religious affiliation” component (24 percent) of the Democratic Party (black Protestants are second at 16 percent). “Nones” voted for Obama over Romney by more than 2 to 1.
This week, the Catholic bishops met in Baltimore to sift through the Election Day wreckage. “There's no denying we lost in these (same-sex marriage) states on an issue we feel very passionately about,” said Cardinal Timothy Dolan. “We can't deny that there's a new push coming from the other side.”
The big difference between the Catholic Church and the United States is that, when it comes to faith and morals, the church is not a democracy. In a democracy, the majority can turn yesterday's wrongs into today's rights.
For the church, core faith and morals are non-negotiable. “Even if we are alienating people with our positions, we wouldn't change them,” Dolan said. Understanding the difference between right and wrong is more important than “being on the right side of history.”
The Catholic Church has been around for 2,000 years. I wonder how long the U.S. will last?
Blair Lee is CEO of the Lee Development Group in Silver Spring and a regular commentator for WBAL radio. His column appears Fridays in The Gazette. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.