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.