Federalism, states’ rights, and gay marriage

Gay marriage. It’s been in the news a lot lately. Who’s for it and who’s against. Politicians taking sides. Vice President Biden saying a few days ago that he’s “comfortable” with it and reporting that Pres. Obama’s view was “evolving.” North Carolina passing Amendment One banning gay marriage and any civil union other than a marriage between one man and one woman. Gov. Mitt Romney stating he’s against it and supporting a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage. (Hmm, amend the Constitution to take away someone’s equal rights? How does that work?)

With the North Carolina vote looming, and in the wake of the anti-gay rant by Pastor Sean Harris, there was this from another NC pastor:

He’s got a point; it is a matter of equal rights, isn’t it?

Then today Pres. Obama suddenly announced he supports same-sex marriage. We may never know if, barring Biden’s comments, he would have made such an announcement. It’s a political gamble in this election year, with polls saying the American public is just about equally divided on the issue but state laws weighing heavily against it.

It’s enough to make one think again about federalism and states’ rights and whether the states should continue to have the right to legislate against gay marriage. Watching the video of Rev. Barber, one has to think that if banning gay marriage is indeed a denial of equal rights per the Constitution, then federal law should overrule state law, much as Roe v. Wade overruled state prohibitions on abortion, and enforce the constitutional equal rights of all U.S. citizens.

It could be argued that one’s personal feelings on this issue probably determine one’s opinion about federal vs. state authority in this matter. If you’re opposed to same-sex marriage, you probably want your state to legislate against it. Perhaps the most neutral position would be to make it a matter of personal choice, with no one having the right to block, ban, or declare illegal someone else’s personal choice in the matter. Like abortion, make it legal and let people choose for themselves.

Laws like the one passed in North Carolina are hateful and vindictive. Gay marriage does not in any way affect, diminish, or interfere with the marriage of heterosexual couples in NC; passing a law against it is an expression of hate, intolerance, and vindictiveness — a way to deny something to someone else for no better reason than that you don’t like it. Like abortion, the same-sex marriage issue is simple: if you don’t like it, don’t have one.

Thanks to Motley News for bringing this video to my attention. MN reblogged it from The Brabble Rabble and The Obamacrat.

6 thoughts on “Federalism, states’ rights, and gay marriage

  1. Excellent!!!! Glad you’re sharing that video, too. He says some very valuable words. These anti-gay laws are a violation of our constitution. Just as one time, women fought for their rights – and won. Same with blacks. Now it is time for gay marriage. I had not heard Obama spoke out today – but I’m at work and cut off from news, except for a quick glance at my inbox, like now. I am glad he did. And once he is (hopefully) re-elected, if not before, he can override the states hate laws they’re creating.

    And then there’s the “imaginary” war on women…. Many of these laws need to be over-ridden by Federal as well.

    1. Unfortunately, by himself, he can’t overturn any state laws. It’s going to be a long, slow process getting all those laws into court challenges and all the way to the Supreme Court where (I hope) they’ll be ruled unconstitutional. But even then it will depend on the make-up of the Court at the time. And after Citizens United, I wouldn’t bet on the Court knowing black from white or night from day.

          1. Lots of inbreeding in Oklahoma too. And yet the Republicans there were the ones who killed the Personhood Bill. I’m still perplexed by that. Just shows they can’t be counted on to do the wrong thing.

... and that's my two cents