Letter: Denying rights to gays same as racist laws
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

For many decades, states in the Deep South passed laws that denied basic civil rights to black Americans. The U.S. Supreme Court, composed of nine judges, ruled that these laws violated the Constitution.

I have no doubts that many of these laws had been passed by majorities exceeding even the 66 percent of Utahns who voted in favor of denying marriage rights to same-sex couples.

But the percent who voted for them doesn't matter; they were unconstitutional. People back then screamed "judicial activism" and "judicial tyranny," but judges get their power to rule on a law from the Constitution itself.

After the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education desegregation ruling, many people in the South were so enraged that violence occurred. I remember a photo of the "Little Rock Nine," nine black students who had to be escorted, for their own protection, by National Guard troops, so that they could attend a previously all-white school.

If a law is ruled unconstitutional, then it doesn't matter how many people voted for it. I have few doubts that Utah's gay-marriage ban will end up in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Gordon Johnston

West Valley City