I have these funny little expectations of elected officials. When they decide to do something big, earth-shaking and world-changing, I expect them to do their work in public, out in front of all participants, and in a manner where they can publicly accept the challenges to the courage of their convictions and follow through on the process. I expect these politicians to respect the nature of the process, even when facing controversy, and honor the reality that in a democracy, sometimes you have to endure a mess to get things changed. I expect politicians to remember that they are employed by we, the people, and that the wishes of the people, even though they may not seem as unenlightened as The Politician, need to be honored and at least respected.
Yeah, I’m a dreamer in this respect. I’ve only run into a few politicians who had that degree of integrity, and had the privilege to work for one of them as a legislative intern back in 1981. Wally Priestley had convictions, courage, and the integrity to walk his talk. As a result, he was publicly viewed as a flake, although Capital old-timers would privately voice a lot of respect for him because of his integrity.
I can’t say the same about Diane Linn, Lisa Naito, Serena Cruz, and Maria Rojo de Steffey, at least with regard to the process by which they made it possible for gay and lesbian couples to take out marriage licenses. Make no mistake, I have no problem with the concept or the reality of my gay and lesbian friends getting married. It’s one of those things, which come naturally, in my opinion, and open-mindedness on this issue is long overdue-as I’ve stated in past columns. I am, however, mortally offended, angered and embarrassed that none of these women had the courage of their convictions by taking this action openly, and that they decided to exclude the other county commissioner, Lonnie Roberts, in the process.
Mind you, I’ve already gone round and round with several folks on Usenet about this. There are those who argue that in this case, the end justifies the means, and that other civil rights victories have not been won without civil disobedience, litigation, and direct action. They’re focusing on the end, not the means.
I look at the means by which this has happened, however, and must ask-what, then, happens when someone on the other side of an issue chooses to act in this manner? Either acting in secrecy and excluding opponents from the process is a good thing, or it’s a bad thing. You can’t have it be a good thing in one situation and a bad thing in another. I don’t like this sort of unilateral, secretive governmental action taking place on either side of an issue, because in any case, choosing to act in this sort of manner shows contempt for one’s opponents and for the general public at large. It’s an arrogant, elitist attitude and I dislike it as much when I see it in people who are ideologically close to me as when I see it in my opponents. I don’t want Big Nanny Diane et al telling me that I don’t know best, even when it’s an issue where I agree with Big Nanny Diane and her cohorts. It’s wrong to take such measures in secret for any issues, whether earthshaking or not.
Yeah, this time the secretive, backhanded actions supported things I believe in. But what can I say when the actions promote something with which I disagree? If I complain about an unfair, secretive and backhanded process, my opponents have every right to look at me and say-“But you guys do it too.” Folks, there is a reason why we have these political processes and rules, and that reason is, plain and simple, fairness. Otherwise, we devolve into a rule by whim, corruption, and arrogance instead of a rule by law that treats-or should treat-all persons equally.
To put it bluntly, I think that Linn, Naito, Cruz and Rojo de Steffey took something that should have been a good and fair action and polluted it by acting in secret. Measures like this need to be taken openly, bravely, and without fear of opposition. That’s the way it’s supposed to work in this system. Period.
Meanwhile, congrats to all the newlyweds out there, and may you all have a good life!