The Value Of Federalism

Andrew Sullivan posits an interesting idea: that federalism is the cure for the culture war.

I’m inclined to agree with him on this. Personally, I’m with those who say that they’d be happy to have happily married gay couples with closets full of assault weapons. On the issue of gay marriage, I lean libertarian.

If the DOMA holds, and let’s hope it does, that’s a reasonable solution. Issues like gay marriage should be left to the legislatures of the states. If Massachusetts wants Bill and Bob to get hitched, I really don’t give a damn. I don’t for a minute buy the argument that the mere existance of gay marriages impacts traditional marriage one bit. There are plenty of very real pressures on marriages other than the existance of gay marriage.

The problem is that if the DOMA doesn’t hold in Court, a constitutional amendment will be necessary. That amendment should be consistant with the principles of negative liberty and federalism, and it should simply state that Congress shall make no law which infringes upon the rights of a state to define the issue of marriage for itself. It’s simple, efficient, and it lets voters decide for themselves. Issues like this are why the principles of federalism exist.

12 thoughts on “The Value Of Federalism

  1. I believe in Federalism. I believe more in democracy. Which means that until the Gay Marraige people stop their assault on democracy by trying to get it through the courts, I’ll favor a Federal Marriage Amendment to make their desires impossible.

    I, too, couldn’t care less about happily married gay couples w/ closets full of assault rifles, in a state where the people or the legislature have freely chosen to allow such marriages.

    But those who try to get courts to force their desires on the rest of us deserve to have their desires crushed, adn their dreams destroyed.

  2. I just think the issue is nonsense. A state marriage liscense is a government contract, nothing more, nothing less. If a man wants one between himself and another man, great. If a man wants one between himself and a box turtle, well, go right ahead (okay, I’m joking there, but you get the idea). I definitely lean libertarian on this one. And the more weapons Gays and Lesbians have in their closets, the better- it’ll mean that any anti-gay stormtroopers who want to come haul them off to concentration camps will have that much more to deal with… 🙂

    (Now, I haven’t commented all day on the elections. Yes, I’m mad as hell. I was also hung over most of the day, didn’t feel like reading blogs, and have been repeatedly voicing my anger at the stupidity of both Ohio and South Dakota voters, and the great wisdom of their counterparts in California. And, as you can probably tell from my awful grammar and incoherent sentence structure, I haven’t had much sleep, so I’m going to go do something about that.)

  3. This one is really easy, and I cannot believe that no one has settled it. As Nicolas mentioned, a marriage license is just a contract. So that pesky US Constitution gets in the way again when state governments try to prohibit gay marriage — Amendment XIV “nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” If you’re straight get married as many times as you want, but if you’re gay, forget it — doesn’t seem very equal to me!

    So, the state can’t prohibit gay marriage, but your church can. So if you’re so dense as to feel the need to deny people the same rights you enjoy, just go to church that won’t allow it. There are plenty of judges and ministers who have actually thought about the messages of Christianity who can perform the marriages where you don’t have to see them. They say ignorance is bliss!

  4. Wow, it’s amazing how you two miss the point.

    1: Yep, it’s a government supported contract. That means the government gets to decide which types of contracts it will support. In a democracy, it’s the voters who tell the government what it should do. Deal with it.

    2: Gay men have the same marriage rights as straight men. Both are allowed to marry women who are over a certain age, not currently married, and who want to marry them. That is “equal protection of the law”.

  5. I don’t understand why this is such a difficult issue. I don’t want the courts to decide what marriage is and isn’t. I also don’t want legislative or executive branches to decide what marriage is. If we’re talking social contract let talk social contract.

    Establish civil unions as being a binding social contract for two people and were done. Easy Peasy.

  6. Um, Chris,

    I don’t want to be insulting, but, in case you ahdn’t noticed, you’re not the dictator of the US.

    What you want is irrelevant, insignificant, and unimportant. What the majority of Americans want is not. Vast majorities of Americans disagree with you on this one.

    Now, if you want to try to reason with them, talk with them, find out what they believe, and why, and then see if you can find an accomdation that will make you and them happy, that’s great.

    But merely talking about what you want is mental masturbation. Polite people don’t do that in public. 🙂

  7. Ok Greg,

    Equality is given to the people of the United States by the Constitution and is a partial conseqence of why we have no slaves, universal sufferage, and are created equal. Now if all are equal, how can you create law that bans unions between equal parties?

    Of course, we could always get a majority together and vote equality out of the Constitution according to the logic of your previous arguements.

  8. Now if all are equal, how can you create law that bans unions between equal parties?

    So, laws against polygamy are “unconstitutional”?

    If you want to point to specific words in the Constitution that say that you have the right to marry anyone you want, I’d love to see them. Short of that, I’ll give you the 10th Amendment:

    “The powers not delegated to the United States by the
    Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

    That means the States get to decide what qualifies are marriage, and the People get to vote the legislators out of office ifthey decide wrong.

    It’s called democracy. You ought to think about it some time.

  9. Actually Greg, it’s a federal republic with representative government if you want to get technical.

    So, let’s talk constitution in the context of same sex marriage:
    Article IV Section 1: “Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State.”

    This means that states have to recognize eachother’s laws and legal decisions. So, if one state recognizes a same sex marriage, all other states must recognize that marriage as well.

    Section 2: “The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States.”

    Whoops! States can’t deny rights to citizens of other states.

    Article VI: “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any state to the Contrary notwithstanding.”

    This is a good one — all of the amendments I’m about to cite supercede all states rights, laws, judicial decisions — in every case! If a state passes a law that contradicts the constitution, it is here by invalidated. Cool, huh?

    Amendment IX: “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

    So, contrary to what you’d like to believe, a right doesn’t have to be enumerated in the constitution to exist. The right to privacy isn’t in there, nor is the right to marriage itself.

    Amendment XIV: “nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

    We already talked about this one, but it didn’t seem to resonate, so we’ll try again! No law can treat people differently in the same circumstances. So, two people want to get married, you can’t deny them that right by using a definition that requires a man and a woman. That treats people differently based on their sex. You can’t do that. The forefathers said so.

    So, there you have it. The constitution does in fact protect us from illogical, irrational and oppressive government.

  10. It is quite obvious that states do not have to recognize each other’s laws and legal desisions.
    States cannot deny rights to citizens of other states. This is also not true.
    If a state passes a law that contradicts the constitution, it here by invalidated. Cool huh? Real cool, but real wrong!
    All of your arguments sound great till you look at the way the gun laws are written differently in each state of the Nation. The Second Admendment is constantly under attack by those who would limit or remove the right to private ownership of firearms.
    Now apply all your logic to protecting the Second Admendment and see how many States will change their laws to comply.
    So now you have it. The government does not uphold the constitution as it allows for states to discriminate against it’s citizen’s right to protection under the Second Admendment.
    There is no guaranteed reciprocity between states when pistol permits or licenses are concerned.

  11. Gee, James, i guess that means if one state gives me a “concealed carry” license, then every other state must honor that license, regardless of their laws.


    Then one state giving two men a marriage license doesn’t mean other states have to honor it.

    Amendment IX: “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

    Let me translate that for you:
    The fact that we didn’t include a right in the Consititution does NOT mean that we don’t care about it, or value it. So don’t use the fact that it’s not in the Consititution to claim it doesn’t exist.

    Go read the 10th Amendment.

    Then, tell us the precise mechinism whereby “We the People” get all those “rights” you think the 9th and 14th Amendments grant us. By the whim of 5 members of the Supreme Court?

    That’s not a democracy. That’s not a federal republic with representative government. That’s an oligarchy.

    Screw that.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.