Friday, May 26, 2006

I Support Federalism

The Republican Party used to support federalism. Now it doesn't seem to. Why we have to do these stupid types of things--that we know won't pass--is far beyond me.

The MPA (Marriage Protection Amendment--would define marriage as straights only) would amend the U.S. Constitution to forbid gay couples to marry. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., says he will bring the amendment up during the week of June 5. It has zero chance of passing by the required 67-vote majority, as Frist knows. In 2004, the amendment garnered only 48 Senate votes, and the Human Rights Campaign, a gay-rights group, figures it will get only about 52 votes this year.

Is this really the biggest thing we have going on? Are there absolutely no issues more pressing?

I believe in states' rights. The amendment listed above isn't really about states rights, though, because it actually amends the Constitution. Still, there's no reason to take marriage laws away from the states and give authority over them to the federal government, so why do it? Apparently because of what's called "the base"--religious conservatives.

I'd like to go back to the days when "the base" meant small government, fiscal conservatives.

But back to federalism. In his book Lies My Teacher Told Me, confirmed socialist author James Loewen wrote, in a chapter on John Brown and Abraham Lincoln, "Historically, whatever faction has been out of power in America has pushed for states' rights." Sounds like it could be true to me, and he knows more about the topic than I do, so I'll accept that statement. It's certainly true here.

At bottom, what many MPA proponents want to forestall is not judicially enacted gay marriage; it is gay marriage, period. They say that an institution as fundamental as marriage needs a uniform definition: a single moral template for the whole country.

That argument would seem more compelling if marriage were more important than human life. Many of the same conservatives who want the federal government, not the states, to settle gay marriage also want the states, not the federal government, to settle abortion. Sen. George Allen, R-Va., for example, supports the MPA, but he would like to see Roe v. Wade "reinterpreted" so that states would decide the fate of abortion. Although the 2004 Republican platform calls for a "human life amendment to the Constitution," you will look in vain for any such amendment on the Senate floor.

Two questions for anti-gay-marriage, anti-abortion Republicans: If states can be allowed to go their own way in defining human life, why not allow them to go their own way in defining marriage? Where constitutional amendments are concerned, why is preventing gay couples from marrying so much more urgent than preventing unborn children from being killed?

Yes, why? I'd love to have an answer to the questions above.

I support federalism.


Anonymous said...

If you really want an answer:

"why not allow them to go their own way in defining marriage?"

Because, at least theoretically, the courts can force all states to recognize another state's laws. Full faith and credit clause.

Having said that, I think this is a band-aid on an arterial injury. The problem is a judicial system that has been allowed to expand its power beyond the other two braches of government, and I believe the solution is to clip the wings of the judicial system.

Anonymous said...

You have hit a nail on the head. Our church recently had a petition for a state constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage in Minnesota. I have mixed feelings about gay marriage, but I definitely wasn't going to sign that petition. While I have no problem with civil unions, I lean toward the idea that marriage is something that should only be between a man and a women. Nevertheless, I don't want to be associated with people who are so opposed to gay marriage because I find many of them to be so hypocritical.

Darren said...

RightWingProf, one might think that the "full faith and credit" clause would do what you say it does, but I've read plenty that says that it doesn't--and probably wouldn't have to in this case.