Political Theory and Punditry from a native of Flyover Country
Our President will announce his support for same-sex marriage during the Democratic Convention in September. Mark my words.
What would such an endorsement, which I believe will be classic Axelrod (whoops, I meant Obama) material, mean for the most notable piece of federal legislation on the issue? The Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, was passed under President Clinton and has two primary components.
The first seeks to prevent states from being forced to recognize any same sex marriages performed in other states. In other words, DOMA overrides the full faith and credit clause of the Constitution. This has spurred numerous constitutional challenges. Those of you who’ve read my blog for some time may be surprised to hear that I’d support a constitutional amendment exempting marriage from full faith and credit. I have no desire to see an amendment passed saying something to the tune of “Gay people can’t get married.” I do wish to allow states, which have traditionally handled marriage (By the power vested in me by the STATE of …….), to determine their own laws free from unnecessary interference from Washington, D.C. or other states. This is the United States. If you don’t like your residence, no one’s stopping you from moving to a more welcoming state.
The second component is the one I’d prefer to see scrapped. It withholds federal benefits from same sex couples, meaning that existing couples as well as survivors are ineligible for the numerous tax breaks and survivor’s benefits granted to couples within traditional marriages. Like the University of Nebraska’s intransigence on granting employee +1 benefits to same sex couples, I see little reason for the federal government to discriminate in such a manner. If someone possesses a valid marriage license from any state, why should the government have the right to legislate on the manner? Under my logic, if a couple from Nebraska was to be married in New York or another state that recognizes same sex marriage, they would become eligible for federal benefits as a legal couple. That doesn’t mean they’re entitled to anything from the state of Nebraska, but it certainly means they should be treated as a married couple by their federal government.
Someone of my political leanings will always struggle to reconcile the belief in limited government and federalism with the desire to treat everyone equally. This is one of those circumstances that causes me great discomfort. Ideally, this would be a non-issue. As I’ve written before, I’d rather remove the state from marriage altogether. Its role is hardly one of tradition, but rather one that began with the French Revolution. Marriage, at least to me, involves a church and a couple committing to each other for life. The state has little role in such an affair.
Until the state leaves the arena of marriage, however, it does have a role to play on the issue. We should endeavor to make that role one that commits as little cruelty as possible while respecting the rights of states under our nation’s Constitution. The two need not be mutually exclusive.
If we really want to get serious about health care reform, it’s best done incrementally. Skepticism, not the terribly shortsighted and foolish vision of “progress,” should be the guiding light of governance.
A quote from my first opinion piece in the Daily Nebraskan, the campus newspaper at the University of Nebraska Lincoln. If the quote doesn’t make it obvious enough, I’m not thrilled with the Affordable Care Act.
I can’t help but chuckle at the irony involved when Americans act like horny schoolgirls over the visit of a pair of British Royalty during the same week as July 4th. 235 years after breaking the bonds with Royalty, it seems we are more fascinated with Kate Windsor’s hairstyle or newest dress than the workings of our own government. All Hail the Queen!!!!
No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.
Article 1, Section 9, Clause 8 of the United States Constitution