Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Dateline: Schenectady, NY (and no, that's not the set-up for a joke):
Both candidates for the 105th Assembly District say they are opposed to gay marriage, yet how they would vote on same-sex legislation could provide a deciding point for some voters in the special election next week...


"If it does come to a vote, I will vote that way because that's the way the majority of my constituents want me to vote," said the 51-year-old Democratic Schenectady County Legislator. "I have to vote according to the way my constituency feels."

Libby Post, who lives in Menands and is a nationally syndicated columnist on lesbian and gay issues, said [Republican George] Amedore is "not in tune with the electorate."

She lauded [Democrat Ed] Kosiur for his stance.

"I think he generally wants to reflect the will of his constituency and that's laudable," Post said.
No, it's not laudable, and I think Libby Post knows better. Is she really calling for our elected officials to be spineless rubber stamps for majority rule? Does she really believe that cowering before 51% of the voters is preferable to political courage?

If I still lived in Schenectady-- wait a second... no, I can't even finish that sentence.

Anyway, I'm pretty sure I'd be voting for Kosiur if I lived in that district, in part because he would be another vote for gay marriage legislation. But I deplore his reasoning, not that it's uncommon. It is politispeak for "I'm a wishy-washy wimp and would rather grovel for your vote than tell you what I think."

Not to mention that it is absolutely contrary to the underlying principles of representative government.

It always pisses me off when I hear elected officials and candidates (full disclosure: including past employers) straddle the fence this way. I know that not every issue is equal, and not every person cares equally about those issues, but candidates and elected officials have an obligation to express their positions honestly when they do have an opinion. "I have to vote according to the way my constituency feels" is not a valid answer.

More disturbing is that Ms. Post (and almost certainly other LGBT advocates) would support this deference to the tyranny of the majority. That is an arguement that has been and will continue to be used to against gay equality by spineless politicians who are afraid to do the right thing, and her words have just given a lot of them a free pass. The ends don't always justify the means.

If you want to read about a profile in courage, check out this article about Republican New York State Assembly Member Teresa Sayward. Hers is the story of a politician who has risked a career to do the right thing.

Ms. Sayward's courage is what we should be lauding.