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March 06, 2004

Comments

Leslie

Oh brother. What an apologetic piece of hooey this article is. You know, when I was a teenager, I used to do that "think-everything-to-death" routine. You know what it leads to? Immobility. Now there's a quality I want in a president!

TM

To lead or not to lead; that is the question...

Tom Bowler

What do you want to bet Real American here is a wacko lefty?

TM

OK, this will be a bit cryptic for those coming late, since the Iron Fist has carried "RealAmerican" away. I guess I've seen language like that from both wackos and trolls, and I'm not interested in encouraging either one.

Tom Bowler

I suppose it was rather intemperate of me to refer to your departed visitor as a "wacko lefty". I don't mean to imply that everyone of the leftward persuasion is a wacko. My apologies.

Real American

I applogize Mr. Minute. I should not have used such language.

But you and I both agree that Mr. Bush has shown real leadership in championing the outlawing of homosexual marriages in the constitution, do we not? Can we not all agree that the true christian leadership that President Bush has shown in stopping this attack on the sacred institution of marriage by anti-christian secular humanists is one reason why he is a far greater president than Kerry will ever be?
We are all brothers here. Let us not fight.
We must save our wrath for the liberals who try to destroy our Judeao-Christian heritage.

Tom Bowler

I'm not sure anybody around here is going to agree with you, R.A. The point is not to outlaw same sex unions. The point is to allow the each state to make a decision on it legislatively, as was done in Vermont. If my understanding is correct, the decision of the Massachusetts Supreme Court's means a marriage in Massachusetts must be legally recognized by the rest of the states. That is what is at issue.

I'm sure there will be a lot of effort going into the portrayal of President Bush as a bigoted homophobe, while John Kerry who may hold the identical position (in so far as we can tell at any particular moment what his position might be) will be considered the paragon of tolerance.

By the way, would you mind if I gave you the nickname "Lefty" in any future correspondence?

TM

Well, we are at least drawing a better class of spoof here. I'm with Tom B., although the flaw in our position is ""The point is not to outlaw same sex unions." That *is* a major point of the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment, the first sentence of which defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

This seems to be a sticking point with some conservatives - I have noted James Taranto of the WSJ, R Ponnuru of the NRO, Andrew Sullivan, and Eugene Volokh as worried about activist judges, but willing to leave the definition of marriage to the states.

Tom Bowler

Since I have so much time on my hands today, I will continue to disagree. My recollection is that GWB's stated position is that people will be free to enter into whatever legal arrangements they like, as allowed by state law. In that light the civil unions of Vermont are in no danger of invalidation. The wording of the House FMA does not prohibit such arrangements. It only says that the federal and state governments will not be *required* to recognize them as marriages.

Tom Bowler

P.S. Orrin Hatch is offering an alternative amendment in the Senate: "Civil marriage shall be defined in each state by the legislature or the citizens thereof. Nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to require that marriage or its benefits be extended to any union other than that of a man and a woman."

Real American

Ugh,
all this hair splitting and nuance is disgusting.
Y'all sound just like a Kerry.
Thank Jesus for Bush, a man with the courage to say that marriage has always been and will always be between a man and a woman.

Tom Bowler

Gee, Lefty. Didn't mean to offend.

TM

Well, here is the President's statement. Most of the talk denounces activist judges, but his big finish is this:

...Today I call upon the Congress to promptly pass, and to send to the states for ratification, an amendment to our Constitution defining and protecting marriage as a union of man and woman as husband and wife. The amendment should fully protect marriage, while leaving the state legislatures free to make their own choices in defining legal arrangements other than marriage.

The Musgrave Amendment, aka the Federal Marriage Amendment, has not even been reported out of committee, and may (will) be changed. Currently, it reads:

Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution or the constitution of any State, nor state or federal law, shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups.

Hardline gay marriage opponents think this is too lenient, since the second sentence might (or, others argue, might not) allow civil unions. Folks like me think the first sentence goes too far, since it forces all fifty states to define marriage as man and woman.

That said, thirty-eight states have already made that choice, which is as good a defense as I can muster for that point.

And, stealing liberally from the National Review, I find this on Orrin Hatch:

We are therefore pleased to learn that Sen. Orrin Hatch is introducing his own constitutional amendment. His version reads as follows: "Civil marriage shall be defined in each state by the legislature or the citizens thereof. Nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to require that marriage or its benefits be extended to any union other than that of a man and a woman." This amendment would not only clearly allow civil unions to be enacted by legislatures; it would even allow legislatures to enact full-fledged same-sex marriage. But it would bar federal or state courts from imposing either.

Some conservatives will object that this amendment does not go far enough. But what it does is meet the challenge that actually inspired an amendment in the first place: the threat that judges will impose same-sex marriage or its equivalent in disregard of the public will. Hatch's language has the additional advantage of being clear and understandable to the layman. For most people, the notion that legislators should be making these decisions will seem like simple common sense.

Well, yes - this is an amendment that might find the votes to pass; I would love to listen to its opponents explain the merits of allowing the courts to seize this issue themselves.

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