Lex Rex

In the latest gay marriage news, the mayor of New Paltz is getting in on the act that started in San Francisco. Compare these upstart cities with peaceful Cambridge across the river, still waiting patiently for D-Day. Whatever else you can say about the state of marriage in Massachusetts, at least we’re following our own laws.

It’s easy to dismiss the actions of these rogue mayors as frustration that they don’t reign in Massachusetts, and more specificially in the Massachusetts of a few months from now. It’s even easier to call it civil disobedience, as if the term meant the disobedience of entire cities. But that’s not what’s going on here. You have to be a civilian to practice civil disobedience, or if you happen to be an official of the state, you have to civilly disobey in your free time. When a mayor flouts the law, what we have is rex lex, our rulers making our laws, rather than lex rex, obeying our laws.

If a couple of mayors out in the heartland somewhere took it upon themselves to, say, close abortion clinics because in their personal opinions their state constitutions (or the federal one) gave all citizens the right to life, etc., etc., people would be shouting lex rex left and right. Right now, millions of people who personally believe abortion is murder are letting it go on purely out of respect for the rule of law.

We can only live together for so long when the law applies to some people but not to others - probably only until the other people realize that they signed a social contract for lex rex and instead got rex lex.

2 Responses to “Lex Rex”

  1. mike hollihan Says:

    Good points. It still surprises me that some Utah justice of the peace hasn’t started cranking out polygamous marriage licenses yet. There’s far more historical precedent in America for polygamy than ho-marriage and the legal/moral arguments are the same.

  2. Jemima Says:

    Well, according to Jay Severin, there’s already been one group marriage in San Francisco…when Rosie O’Donnell married her girlfriend. [Ba da dum!]

    But seriously, though most people think that polygamy and group marriage are the next thing down the slippery slope, I’m not so sure. If you redefine marriage as a contract between any two people, that still rules out marrying five wives or your horse. What it leaves open is incest, and I think incest is next up on the agenda. Laws about the degree of consanguinity considered incestuous already vary from state to state, and in the homosexual case (in which there’s no prospect of natural offspring), what possible basis could you have for forbidding a man to marry his brother, son, nephew, or male first cousin?