The Daily Universe and Prop 8

Written by Randal Serr on . Posted in Politics

Brigham Young University’s official newspaper The Daily Universe has been well known for its right-leaning reporting over the years. That makes sense since the newspaper is put out by writers, editors and photographers who are all students from the mostly conservative campus. Take a look at the letters to the editor section on any given day and this ideology will be clear, sometimes absurdly so. Naturally, letters to the editor will reflect the student body’s general ideology.

A recent article about the overturn of California’s Proposition 8 lacked the objectivity necessary to do this important story justice. The story had a title and a lead paragraph that made it clear where they as a newspaper stood and assumed that their audience agreed. The article tried to hide its true feelings using an old journalism tactic — using the word  “some” to avoid appearing biased.

For example, the article states that “some BYU students from California are struggling to understand how a single federal judge could invalidate the collective voice of voters who passed Proposition 8 nearly two years ago.” The author reiterates this feeling later with “some BYU students said they felt the decision was difficult to understand.”

I’m sure most BYU students are, in fact, upset about the judge’s overruling of Proposition 8 — but The Daily Universe has a responsibility to report the news without the subjectivity that leaves its readers with only a partial examination of the issue.

A few of the main criticisms of Judge Walker’s decision went largely unaddressed. The first (which just happens to appear in the DU article) is that the courts no longer listen to the voice of the people. Since when were the courts supposed to listen to the voice of the people? What these critics fail to understand is that the United States Judicial Branch is in place to provide fair and impartial justice, yes, even when 7 million people voiced their opinions in the polls. Consider that, in the 1960s, California voted that you could discriminate the selling of your home based on race. The majority of Californians voted in favor of that law. That does not mean it is just. The Bill of Rights was intended to protect our rights and the Judicial Branch ensures justice and equality — even in the face of majority opposition.

The next critique is that Judge Walker was biased in his ruling simply because he may be gay. Looking at Vaughn Walker’s biography gives a more insightful look into this accusation. Judge Walker was nominated to the federal bench by the President conservatives miss dearly, Ronald Reagan, in 1987. He is known as an independent-minded conservative and has been condemned for rulings by those on all sides of the political spectrum.

He favored both the legalization of drugs and ruled in the mid 1990s that the police used reasonable force when they pepper-sprayed what most people refer to as ‘tree-huggers.’ He once represented a case as a private lawyer against the gay community in which he kept an organization from calling itself the Gay Olympics. He was also, at one time, a member of a club that did not allow membership for blacks or women. In short, he has more than lived up to his reputation as an independent minded conservative jurist.

Next up is the argument that marriage, especially gay marriage, is not a right mentioned in the Constitution. They are right in that it is not specifically mentioned. But since 1888, the Supreme Court has decided 14 times that the right to marriage is a fundamental right for all citizens. Fundamental rights are not and should not be deprived of anyone. There are many rights that are not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution (interracial marriage, for example), but the denial of fundamental rights is unconstitutional.

Many of those that supported Prop 8, such as one person quoted in The Daily Universe’s article, are upset because of the time and money they put into passing the amendment. Those that feel this way should remember that sometimes, things are not fair — but they should also be grateful that at least we have the judicial branch to ensure some fairness.


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