Yuriy Popko, a Russian immigrant, and California anti-gay marriage protester, was quoted on June 17th in the Sacramento Bee, comparing gay marriage to judicial tyranny in the Soviet Union. Here’s the quote, and the context around which the quote was cited:
The Yolo County clerk’s office extended its hours to marry 10 couples through 8 p.m. Monday, while about 10 protesters voiced displeasure over the same-sex nuptials outside the office in Woodland.
“I came from the Soviet Union, and this is judicial tyranny – they’re starting to regulate religion,” said one of the protesters, Yuriy Popko.
Even being generous, is there any legitimacy at all to this Soviet-California analogy? I don’t think so. Here’s why:
- There is no “tyranny” involved here. No one is being forced to marry someone of the same sex, nor is anyone being forced to approve of, or attend, any gay marriage ceremony.
- There is no regulation of religion involved here. State marriage licenses constitute civic, not religious or sacred, recognition. If two people want their marriage recognized religiously, they seek out a religious group willing to do so. If they also want a religious ceremony, they seek out a religious group, or member of the clergy, willing to perform it. The state has no part in this.
- To recognize only heterosexual marriage is to discrimate, not just against minority religious groups, but individual California taxpayers who do not regard gay marriage as sinful.
- Far from regulating religion, the California Supreme Court has remedied a discrimination that was directed against minority religious groups, as well as individual taxpayers who do not regard gay marriage as sinful.
- The issue at hand for the California Supreme Court is equal treatment of all citizens under the law. This concept did not apply to courts in the Soviet Union, where unequal treatment was the rule, and where the application of law to individual citizens was arbitrary, not predictable.
- No religious majority, however large, can force religious minorities, such as those who do not regard gay marriage as sinful, into hiding in the United States. The fact that gays may be open about their marriages, and out of the closet about their homosexuality, in no way constitutes a regulation upon religion in California. No citizen has the right to expect the State to shield one’s eyes from the points of view or behavior of those one does not like.
- Far from resembling the Soviet Union, the State of California is one of the most free places on earth, and gay marriage expands that freedom. It does not contract it.
- Far from engaging in “judicial tyranny,” there are ways for the legislature, or the voters, to change the constitution of California, and if they choose to do this, the law will change again.
To read the original June 17, 2008 Sacramento Bee article on gay marriage, here’s the link: http://www.sacbee.com/101/story/1018466.html