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Seven million Californians

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In the wake of the Prop 8 decision, lots of people opposed to same-sex marriage keep saying that Judge Walker has gone against the expressed will of seven million Californians.

That sure sounds like a big scary number. SEVEN MILLION people can't be wrong! Walker must be pure evil for contradicting that many people!

But if Walker had ruled the other way, he would have gone against the expressed will of six point four million Californians.

The Prop 8 people talk like the whole state voted in favor of Prop 8. In reality, it was 52% of those who voted.

So any decision that any judge makes in this case will likely be displeasing to millions of Californians.

Besides, the people who are making the Seven Million Californians argument don't really believe it. If three hundred thousand of those Californians had switched their votes to No, then Prop 8 would've been defeated at the ballot box, but the proponents of Prop 8 wouldn't have said, “Well, gosh, nearly seven million Californians said no to this, so I guess we were wrong and same-sex marriage is okay after all.” They would have continued to insist that they were right, no matter how many or how few people voted for their proposition.

Anyway, all of this is of course beside the point; the real point is that we don't generally take away the rights of a group of people by majority vote.

To riff on something Ted Olson said in his Fox News interview, if California were to pass a law banning Fox News from broadcasting, that would be unconstitutional, no matter how many Californians voted for it.

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It is also worth noting that Judge Walker spent a lot of time complaining that the pro Prop 8 lobby had made a bunch of very dubious arguments during their public campaign that they had been afraid to bring to court. So those 7 million people voted on something very different to the issues that the judge ruled on.


I see this type of math-misrepresentation a lot, using the absolute size of a number as a Big Impressive Statistic regardless of how relatively unimpressive it is when viewed in context. "My opponent's proposal would cost Americans TEN BILLION dollars!" (which equals thirty dollars per American). "These so-called 'artists' are being funded by the government's National Endowment for the Arts to the tune of one hundred and fifty million of your dollars every year!" (out of a budget of $3.5 trillion).

As always, sites like Snopes or Factcheck can provide ammunition to rebut such weaseliness, although that's more useful in a personal discussion than when faced with someone using the misrepresentation via major media...


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