Gay marriage, money power and state’s rights

President Barack Obama said he believes that same-sex couples have a right to be married.  There are two things to remember about this.

  • His statement comes after gay rights organizations throttled back on contributions to Democratic candidates.  Donations in the 2010 mid-term elections fell by 50 percent from the 2006 mid-term elections.  Evidently the Democratic leaders got the message.  The military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy was repealed in the 2010 lame-duck session of Congress.  In 2011, the Obama administration stopped defending the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, a1996  law that forbid any federal government recognition of gay marriage.  And now, with the 2012 Presidential elections coming up, the President endorses gay marriage.
  • President Obama did not propose to support any federal law or Constitutional amendment in support of gay marriage.  He would leave the issue to state governments, which is how things were before he issued his statement.   I happen to think that is the correct position.  I don’t believe in federalizing laws of marriage and divorce either.   But it makes Obama’s statement a mere expression of personal opinion.  It doesn’t change anything.

Mitt Romney for his part has signed a pledge to the National Organization for Marriage to support a Constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman, and said he would defend the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act.  While Barack Obama has done little to advance gay rights, he isn’t trying to turn the clock back.

Click on Don’t Ask, Don’t Give and Gay Rights Political Donations Plummet for the story of the gay fund-raising boycott.  Hat tip for the links to Making Light.

Click on Obama and Gay Marriage for Radley Balko’s comment on The Agitator.

Click on Obama’s historic affirmation of same-sex marriage for Glenn Greenwald’s comment in The Guardian newspaper.  [Added 5/11/12]

Click on Mitt Romney reiterates opposition to gay marriage for Huffington Post’s comparison of Obama’s and Romney’s positions.

Click on Christian marriage and civil unions for my argument as to why government should not have the authority to say who’s married and who isn’t.

[Afterthought 5/11/12]   Barack Obama’s statement on gay marriage is historically significant, because no previous President has declared himself so clearly.  So maybe my comment above was a little mean-spirited.   It is not consistent to criticize somebody for being equivocal, and then belittle him when he takes a clear stand.  As Glenn Greenwald wrote, we can’t know people’s motives, all we can judge is their actions, good or bad.

Now you may disagree as to whether his statement was the right thing.  That is a different matter.

[Another afterthought 5/12/12]   As my friend Josh said, this shifts the focus of the Presidential election campaign toward the question of gay marriage (even through President Obama has declared it an issue for the states to decide) and away from the bipartisan consensus on creeping totalitarianism – detention without trial, torture, assassinations, universal surveillance, undeclared wars and governmental impunity.

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6 Responses to “Gay marriage, money power and state’s rights”

  1. Atticus Finch Says:

    Mitt Romney has done more to show how all that “small government” Republican rhetoric is double-speak. Small government that is unless it’s using the Government to enforce his beliefs while also simultaneously crushing civil liberties. Another reason I will not be voting for him…

    You are right about Obama – he did little but express a personal opinion, but at least it was a step in the right direction.

  2. kc Says:

    I worked for a major bank several years ago and when I went through their “sensitivity training” the HR director let the cat out of the bag. The reason businesses and politicians are coming out in favor of gay rights isn’t because of some strong belief that this is a fundamental civil right, or even that it is constitutionally protected. The reason that corporations and politicians are doing this is because of disposable income. The LGBT community has it in spades! Most gay “couples” are DINKs (Dual-income, no kids). They are also usually more educated and affluent than the average individual. For politicians, this means a constituency that has the money to spend on a cause they have a vested interest in. Make their cause your cause, and the fat wallets open up. For corporations, this means MARKET SHARE! Face it, corporations and politicians are using these people to gain power and market share. It’s really something that will defeat them in the end, because where will they get the money once married gay couples have the power to adopt? All of a sudden the wallets get lighter and the politicians and corporations will show their true colors when they pick up a new cause that is more beneficial to their bottom line. It’s pathetic.

  3. charlesohalloranboyd Says:

    I hope that since 2012, your view on whether gay marriage should be left to the states has now shifted, like President Obama’s view shifted between 2012 and 2015. Your civil rights should not be dependent on what state you live in. That was true with slavery, it was true with women’s suffrage, it was true with Jim Crow, and it is true with gay rights.

    • philebersole Says:

      Slavery was abolished and women were guaranteed the right to vote by Constitutional amendment.

      I see nothing in the Constitution that gives the federal government the authority to regulate marriage.

      • charlesohalloranboyd Says:

        I don’t think legalizing a certain type of marriage is the same as “regulating” it. Banning gay marriage is regulating it. Legalizing gay marriage is simply allowing each individual to decide whether they want to marry someone of the opposite sex, rather than having the government choose the gender of each individual’s spouse. I would also point out that the Constitution once supported slavery, and if we say that the Constitution must always be followed, then that means the people involved in the Underground Railroad were behaving unethically. When there is a clash between human rights and the Constitution, the Constitution must be disobeyed until it can be amended.

      • philebersole Says:

        I honor the brave members of the Underground Railroad and the brave abolitionists. I honor the brave African-American slaves who rebelled or fled slavery.

        I honor those who, like Thoreau,Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., obey a higher law than the written law, and I honor you, if you have followed in the footsteps of Thoreau, Candhi and King.

        However, slaves were not emancipated on a permanent basis until the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution was ratified.

        When Abraham Lincoln was elected President, he had no legal power to abolish slavery nor Constitutional power to propose the abolition of slavery.

        The most he could do was to propose barring slavery from U.S. territories and to refuse to enforce the Fugitive Slave Law.

        The secession of the South provided an opening for the Emancipation Proclamation, under the Presidential power to confiscate property of the enemy during wartime.

        But Lincoln had no Constitutional power to go beyond that until the Constitution was changed.

        I do not see that Congress has a Constitutional power to pass legislation related to marriage and divorce law, unless you consider marriage to be a form of interstate commerce.

        Of course it may turn out my whole argument will be rendered moot in a few years if the Supreme Court decides that gay marriage is a right protected by the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. I think that would be a stretch, but it could happen.

        What I think is that any two people living together on a permanent basis, whether in a marital relationship or not or whether blood relatives or not, should be treated the same as any other couple regarding pensions, insurance, credit, hospital visitation rights and so on. But that’s for the states to decide.

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