John Andrist: This Former North Dakota Lawmaker Regrets Vote Against Gay Marriage


So often somebody refers to our president as the most powerful person on earth.

But we were reminded again this week that a Supreme Court Justice who casts a deciding vote on a landmark decision is actually more powerful, because nobody holds a trump card that can change his or her vote.

The president may have the opportunity to appoint a person or two to that court, but he has no power to direct him/her.

Ronald Reagan, for instance, appointed Justice Kennedy, the man who cast the deciding vote to save Obamacare.

Last week that same justice cast the deciding vote in a 5-4 decision, that now has made gay marriage legal anywhere in the United States.

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#000000″ txt_color=”#ffffff”]To be sure North Dakotans overstepped when we passed an initiated measure to prohibit gay marriage. I was one of them.[/mks_pullquote]

President Obama has the power, which he has frequently used, to sign sweeping executive orders. But the Congress, if it chooses, can overrule him. And the courts, as well.

As any person who regularly reads my rants might guess, I favored last week’s decision.

A part of me wants to stand behind the constitution which clearly vests marriage law under the domain of the states.

At the same time that same constitution protects our right to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.

That’s the reason why half a century ago the courts stepped in and redirected our American culture to accept black liberty where it didn’t exist. And today hardly any of us would want to racially profile who could take a drink at a public drinking fountain or designate the seats on city busses as “white only”.

I have no idea why I fell in love with my life mate. It wasn’t something I chose to do. Rather it was something I really couldn’t control.

I know I was too young. I knew at the time, I think, it was too early to drop my anchor.

I suspect it was somewhat the same for you. You were attracted to other persons, perhaps one or more times in your early adulthood.

But our love for anybody, indeed our feelings about anybody, is a thing mostly beyond our control.

Some are attracted to one of a different race or religion. And some are attracted to a person of the same gender. Some even feel the compulsion to change their gender.

But in a society that seemingly wants to control virtually all our behavior it is a bit refreshing, even liberating, to love others so much that we choose to let them be what they choose to be — insofar as that behavior doesn’t impinge on others.

To be sure North Dakotans overstepped when we passed an initiated measure to prohibit gay marriage. I was one of them. In this life we live we are not required to always be right. But civilized decency ordains that we should always be kind.

The pastor of my church recently preached a sermon on the theme, “It is better to be kind than to be right!”.

The South was full of good, caring people who had been taught and sincerely believed they belonged to a race that should be favored. They were wrong.

There is only one thing in my political ideology that trumps our constitution and the freedom of self-government for our 50 diverse states.

That is the ideology contained in the first amendment, which defends  those individual freedoms we all treasure, and which don’t impinge on the rights of others.