The citizen initiative, a form of "direct democracy" by which citizens both draft and enact their own law, is often described by its supporters as the truest and most representative form of democratic government. As Constitutional framers recognized by the creation of the Guarantee Clause, however, the pure expression of the people's will must always be tempered by legislative compromise and judicial constraint. Unchecked, individual voters' fears and private biases come to be memorialized as state code and as constitutional amendments. In this Note, the author highlights the discriminatory nature of the citizen initiative process both generally, and as it targets gay men and lesbians in cities and states across America. Particular attention is paid to the situation of gay men and lesbians in Oregon, where a series of failed citizen initiatives has nonetheless succeeded in creating a climate of hostility and intolerance. The author urges the Supreme Court to accept jurisdiction in cases where citizen initiatives target minority rights, upholding a constitutional scheme that explicitly favors representative state government.
Elizabeth A. Tedesco,
"Humanity on the Ballot": The Citizen Intiative and Oregon's War over Gay Civil Rights,
B.C. Third World L.J.