Lessons from Prop. 8: Why We Shouldn't Put Our Civil Rights Up for a Popular Vote

When it comes to gay marriage or any other civil right, no minority should have their rights subject to the biases of the majority.


This week, state legislatures in Washington and New Jersey passed same-sex marriage—but neither vote guarantees gay people the right to marry. Gay marriage opponents in Washington State, taking a cue from California's Prop. 8 back-and-forth, have vowed to collect the signatures required to put the issue on a state ballot. Meanwhile, New Jersey governor Chris Christie has promised a veto of a similar bill, saying the issue should be put to a referendum (which, in New Jersey, only the legislature can allow). A couple of weeks ago, Christie drew flak for asserting that the civil rights movement should have been put to a referendum, saying "People would have been happy with a referendum on civil rights rather than fighting and dying in the streets of the South."

As the political battles in New Jersey, Washington, and other states rage on, I'd like to draw your attention to the wise words of Newark, N.J. Mayor Cory Booker, who responded to Christie's comments in the video above:

Dear God, we should not be putting civil rights issues to a popular vote to be subject to the sentiments, the passions of the day. No minority should have their rights subject to the passions and sentiments of the majority. This is a fundamental bedrock of what our nation stands for.


Christie later apologized "for offending," but using the language of "civil rights" drove home what a referendum actually means: that if the majority of a population isn’t comfortable with ceding rights to a marginalized group, it's fair to wait until they are. If we’d waited for that point during the civil rights movement, we might still be waiting. Buzzfeed pointed out what our country would look like if each state had decided on things like slavery and civil rights issues through a popular vote, and it's not pretty.

It's tempting to welcome a referendum on a civil rights issue when the public's views are in line with your own interests—I was relieved, for instance, that Mississippi's personhood amendment was shot down by popular vote in October. Yet the principle still stands. Unless a law affects us all equally, it shouldn't be up to the biases of voters. And legislators' votes shouldn't be the last word, either. At bottom, gay marriage should be a case of "equal protection under the law"—and that's for a court to decide, not elected representatives.

via The Howard Stern Show / YouTube

Former Secretary of State, first lady, and winner of the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton, sat own for an epic, two-and-a--half hour interview with Howard Stern on his SiriusXM show Wednesday.

She was there to promote "The Book of Gutsy Women," a book about heroic women co-written with her daughter, Chelsea Clinton.

In the far-reaching conversation, Clinton and the self-proclaimed "King of All Media" and, without a doubt, the best interviewer in America discussed everything from Donald Trump's inauguration to her sexuality.

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Offering parental leave for new fathers could help close the gender gap, removing the unfair "motherhood penalty" women receive for taking time off after giving birth. However, a new study finds that parental leave also has a pay gap. Men are less likely to take time off, however, when they do, they're more likely to get paid for it.

A survey of 2,966 men and women conducted by New America found that men are more likely to receive paid parental leave. Over half (52%) of fathers had fully paid parental leave, and 14% of fathers had partially paid parental leave. In comparison, 33% of mothers had fully paid parental leave and 19% had partially paid parental leave.

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Bans on plastic bags and straws can only go so far. Using disposable products, like grabbing a plastic fork when you're on the go, can be incredibly convenient. But these items also contribute to our growing plastic problem.

Fortunately, you can cut down on the amount of waste you produce by cutting down on disposable products. And even more fortunately, there are sustainable (and cute) replacements that won't damage the environment.

Coconut bowls


Who says sustainable can't also be stylish? These cute coconut bowls were handmade using reclaimed coconuts, making each piece one of a kind. Not only are they organic and biodegradable, but they're also durable, in case your dinner parties tend to get out of hand. The matching ebony wood spoons were polished with the same coconut oil as the bowls.

Cocostation Set of 2 Vietnamese Coconut Bowls and Spoons, $14.99; at Amazon

Solar powered phone charger


Why spend time looking around for an outlet when you can just harness the power of the sun? This solar powered phone charger will make sure your phone never dies as long as you can bask in the sun's rays. As an added bonus, this charger was made using eco-friendly silicone rubber. It's win-win all around.

Dizaul Solar Charger, 5000mAh Portable Solar Power Bank, $19.95; at Amazon, $19.95; at Amazon

Herb garden kit

Planter Pro

Put some green in your life with this herb planter. The kit comes with everything you need to get a garden growing, including a moisture meter that helps you determine if your herbs are getting the right amount of food to flourish. All the seeds included are certified to be non-GMO and non-hybrids, meaning you can have fresh, organic herbs right at your fingertips.

Planter Pro's Herb Garden Cedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazonedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazon

Reusable Keurig cups

K & J

Keurig cups are convenient, but they also create a ton of plastic waste. These Keurig-compatible plastic cups are an easy way to cut down on the amount of trash you create without cutting down on your caffeine. Additionally, you won't have to keep on buying K Cups, which means you'll be saving money and the environment.

K&J Reusable Filter Cups, $8.95 for a set of 4,; at Amazon

Low-flow shower head


Low-flow water fixtures can cut down your water consumption, which saves you money while also saving one of the Earth's resources. This shower head was designed with a lighter flow in mind, which means you'll be able to cut down on water usage without feeling like you're cutting down on your shower.

Speakman Low Flow Shower Head, $14.58; at Amazon

Bamboo safety razor


Instead of throwing away a disposable razor every time you shave, invest in an eco-friendly, reusable one. This unisex shaver isn't just sustainable, it's also sharp-looking, which means it would make a great gift for the holidays.

Zomchi Safety Razor, $16.99; at Amazon

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