Tag Archives: Amendment 48

When a Democracy Goes Wrong

By: Heather Ellerbrock

The other day while driving in the car with my dad, he told me a story about a 16 year old who upon exiting the highway way to fast, hit a bump and proceeded to flip his car in the air over two lanes of traffic landing on a hill hundreds of feet away from where this all started. We then got into a conversation about how parents, teachers, etc. in response to such reckless driving from teenagers immediately provide a solution of raising the driving age instead if attacking the problem head on (i.e. require drivers ed for all and at least 1 year, from 15-16, of driving with a permit and so on). Then I saw this video made by Protect Families (the group responsible for Prop. 8 in California):

Despite the fact that I think this video is pure propaganda, just like the adults who believe the solution to reckless teenage driving is to raise the driving age, these parents believe banning gay marriage is the solution to ensure their young children are not taught it in school (instead of coming to a consensus with the school board and community, etc that waiting until sex ed to introduce the idea of homosexual marriage is a better idea…as, in the video, the parents themselves say). On a side note, notice these parents say that because gay marriage is legal and they disagree with it, it is only now they are bigots; and how can you teach gay marriage in mathematics?

Moving on…

After the conversation with my dad, and after viewing the video, I looked to a New York Times Article titled, “Mormons Tipped Scale in Ban on Gay Marriage” and this got me thinking. How can a democracy be the best answer when special interest groups are able to impose their views on an out-group in a totalitarian way? Now, I am in no way suggesting I do not believe in democracy. I am simply stating that it has become too easy for 48% to become an unrepresented minority. Furthermore, through the simplicities of putting  measures on ballots that represent special interests – in this case gay marriage – the line between church and state is becoming more and more gray each passing year. In reference to Prop. 8, a member who was part of the fund raising for the propositions passing had the following to say: “I ask for your prayers that this e-mail will open the hearts and minds of the faithful to make a further sacrifice of their funds at this urgent moment so that God’s precious gift of marriage is preserved.” Many will argue that if gay marriage was the majority, there would still be a ~48% minority that would disapprove of the measure. I say to them that at least they can marry the person they love.

So now, after talking to my dad, seeing the “Protect Families” video and realizing that the main reason Prop. 8 did not pass was in most part because of one special interest group, I then looked to Colorado who in the 2008 election actually tried to address this problem; at least when it came to constitutional initiatives (remember, in 2006 gay marriage was banned in Colorado). As most of you may recall, on Colorado’s ballot this year we had Ref. O which aimed to “make it harder” for constitutional initiatives to make it on the ballot. This would have included (1) a signature requirement amount equal to 6% of votes cast for most recent governor and (2) 8% of all signatures to be collected from each congressional district. Once again, and in a way that can only be seen a sheer irony, the minority that Ref. O was trying to protect lost by 48-52%.

In my opinion and judgment, this all boils down to religion. Now let me preface this with saying I am not attacking religion. I am saying that when it comes to issues that appear on ballots each year concerning gay marriage, abortion, etc., these measures are able to appear on the ballot from fund raising that mainly comes from religious institutions. And since they are not required (at least in Colorado) to gain signatures from all congregational districts, they can then pick and choose where they will most likely get signatures for the measure. Think about Amendment 48, it failed famously but was able to appear on the ballot. 1/6 of all Amendment 48’s “Yes” vote came from El Paso county alone (compare with 1/15 total of “Yes” votes coming from Denver). I wonder where the people who wanted the measure on the ballot focused their efforts?

A democracy goes wrong when we are able to put amendments on constitutions that take away rights from people. Instead of attacking the problem from the inside out and coming to a consensus, a small majority gets to define what life will be for other Americans. Just as most are irrational to think that raising the driving age to 18 will cure reckless “teenage” driving, the same people are just as irrational to think that denying rights to deserving American citizens is their right in our democracy.



Filed under American Electorate, Colorado, Religion, Uncategorized

Why Democracy is Bad

By Steven Dell

Walking through the Tivoli Student Union on Campus yesterday I saw a group handing out stickers and postcards. They were campaigning against Amendment 48 to the Colorado Constitution. This Amendment is on the ballot for this November election.

The Amendment is written

“Define the term ‘person’ to include any human being from the moment of fertilization and apply this definitions of person to the section of the Colorado Constitution that protect the natural and essential rights of persons, allow open access to courts for every person, and ensure that no person has his or her life, liberty, or property taken away without due process of law.”

Actual text can be viewed here.

How could such an encompassing amendment even make it to the general election? The Daily Camera reported on May 30th

“Secretary of State Mike Coffman said backers of the proposed state constitutional amendment turned in an estimated 103,000 valid signatures, far more than the 76,000 required.”

The answer is that proposed amendment that gains enough signatures can be voted on by the people of Colorado to amend the constitution. Once it is amended it is law. Special interest groups can then take their ideas to streets to collect signatures so that it can be voted on in the general election. A good video of how it is done can be viewed here.

This is where I have a problem with our legislative process. People think too much with their emotions. If you get someone riled enough they will vote to pass anything no matter how ridiculous. People would argue this is true Democracy and is the way it should be. Are average people (including me) at all qualified enough to write laws? Isn’t this why we have a representative government in the first place? Why can’t my representatives do the job I’m paying them for?

I don’t pretend to know any thing about Doctoring either. So how in the world would I decide on any particularly health oriented amendment such as 48? Do Doctors think at the moment of fertilization an egg is a person?

Is this definition even valid legally? Think of a pregnant woman who has cancer, should a doctor have to call a third party lawyer (who has nothing at all to do with the doctor patient relationship) before administering any kind of chemo-therapy because it could endanger the “person” in the womb? I think all are relevant questions and I know I am not the person that should be answering them.

Referendum O would limit this process, I don’t think it goes far enough but it is a start. In that ref O link it does talk about how the Colorado Constitution is one of the easiest constitutions to amend. It is too easy for my taste, especially when you look at the US constitution as a model.

One last video by the late George Carlin, if you know him you know his language can be colorful at best so watch knowing you have been warned. It is relevant to the post. All of his fans will miss his witty cynicism.

Let me make clear where I stand on this.  People should collect signatures and contact their representatives if they feel their government needs to change, they should not be able to change it directly.  I do not agree with abortion, and I know that I personally could never make the decision to terminate. I do not feel it is my decision to make when it comes to other people. The decision should be between the doctor and the patient, and maybe the patient’s family but even that is a streach.


Filed under Uncategorized