Tuesday, February 24, 2004
Bush seriously ups the ante on Gay Marriage
As you probably know, Bush has openly come out in support of a constitutional Amendment to define marriage as being between a man and a woman. Many say this was a savvy election year move on his part to pin down his religious base while not alienating the middle. I, however, feel this will be a Bad Thing for conservatives in the long run from a legal standpoint. Bush is basically forcing me and many other conservatives to put several of our core beliefs at odds with each other.
Before Bush made his announcement, there were rumblings and proposals from social conservatives to pass this amendment that were mostly ignored by everyone else. Yet now that Bush has thrown his hat in the ring it suddenly becomes a 'serious' proposal, one that if not squeltched quickly will be examined and cross-examined many times by the congress and the public in the months to come. It may even come up for a legitimate vote, be passed by the requisite 2/3rds of each house, and be referred to the states. If that day comes, when I go to the polls to vote on the amendment I will be forced to pit my love of the robust federal system directly against my religious beliefs. If the Amendment fails, gay marriage will become the law of the land almost immediately. If it passes, Federal power will expand into areas heretofore unknown.
In the first case, you may ask "Why would the failure of the Amendment ensure gay marriage across the country?" Because it would provide perfect justification for the Federal courts in saying "the prevailing opinions and attitudes of the American public are in favor of gay marriage." But wait, passing an Amendment requires a Super-majority of both Houses and a Mega-majority of the States, that only means a minority opposed the Amendment. That doesn't stop the courts. The Supreme Court last year banned the execution of minors and the stupid on just those grounds, that a few states, and even foreign countries, had independently banned it on their own. They'll easily glomb on to the rejection of the 'negative' by the minority as affirmation of the 'positive' by the majority, however little sense it really makes. Thus my own feelings about gay marriage and whether it should exist in my State would prompt me to be as vocal as possible in passing the amendment, because its failure would mean total victory for those in support of gay marriage.
Yet this runs up against my belief that the vast majority of domestic decisions should not be in the hands of the Federal government. I am a Madisonian federalist. I believe strongly that the States and their people should have near total control over local matters, the only exceptions being blatant discrimination by the State on the basis of race or gender. I believe everything from environmental to economic to drug laws on the Federal level should be abolished and left to the individual States. This Amendment would run counter to that belief. It would enshrine in the Constitution a Federal prohibition on the states from doing as they see fit on a social issue. Prohibition attempted the same thing through economic means (sale and manufacturing of alcohol) and, although it failed established greater precedent for Federal interference in economic issues. This proposed Amendment would spark a similar expansion into social issues that until recently have been barely grazed by Federal power.
So I'm left in a bind. If Bush had held off on supporting the Amendment until it was clear how the courts will decide, I wouldn't be facing this choice. But he has made it a serious proposal, I have to decide. I will have to either accept gay marriage nationwide, or yield even greater power to the Federal government than it already has. This will be a very difficult choice to make, and I'm not going to like it either way.
Posted by Unknown at 7:01 PM :