Intelligent Replies to Idiotic Comments, Part 3: A Dumb thing attributed to Gov. Rick Perry
Governor Rick Perry made news with his comments about the definition of marriage at an event in Aspen:
“Our friends in New York six weeks ago passed a statute that said marriage can be between two people of the same sex. And you know what? That’s New York, and that’s their business, and that’s fine with me….That is their call. If you believe in the 10th Amendment, stay out of their business.”
Now, I have been involved in the marriage debate long enough to know that people often take words out of context, distort their meaning, and flat out lie. Whatever Gov Perry may have said or intended to say, the sentiments attributed to him are actually pretty common. So, without passing judgment on Gov Perry, let’s take this opportunity to analyze this statement. As it happens, these very common sentiments fit nicely into my continuing series: “Intelligent Replies to Idiotic Comments.”
There are at least two idiotic ideas embedded in this statement attributed to Gov Perry. First, the idea that the marriage issue is or ought to be a “state’s rights” simply doesn’t work. It may have been a good idea 5 years ago. But that idea has been left in the dust of events. Second, it is pure foolishness to assert that because “our friends” in NY redefined marriage, no one else has any right to say anything against it. It is highly dubious that those responsible for redefining marriage are “friends” to anyone else in the country, or in the Republican Party, or to the people of New York.
As to the first point: it is no longer possible to believe that the definition of marriage can be a states’ rights issue. There are numerous avenues by which gay activists are trying to use the full faith and credit clause of the Constitution to leverage the genderless marriage law from one state on states where the people have spoken clearly in favor of man/woman marriage. This possibility has been apparent for some time.
But more recent events are even more devastating to the “leave it to the states” position on the marriage issue. Massachusetts is attempting to use its genderless marriage law to overturn the laws of all the states, through its suit against DOMA. Likewise, the attempt by Ted Olson and David Boies to overturn Proposition 8 in federal court, if successful, will end even the possibility of the states doing what they want. If the Supreme Court “discovers” a federal right to genderless marriage, that will be the complete end of any state’s rights on the subject. All the states that have amended their constitutions to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman, will be completely overridden by that single ruling.
So, anyone who is serious about the rights of the states to create and maintain their own marriage laws, must immediately add:
“That is why I support the federal Defense of Marriage Act. Without the federal DOMA, the states simply will be unable to have their own marriage policies. As president I will be absolutely committed to defending DOMA in the courts, precisely because DOMA is the tool which allows the 10th Amendment to do its job in this arena.”
“I absolutely support the voters of California, who made themselves perfectly clear through a perfectly legal election process. They made the strongest statement available to them about the definition of marriage. I abhor the gay activists’ attempts to place the voters of California on trial. Olson and Boies should be ashamed of themselves.”
This is the sort of thing someone like Governor Perry ought to say if they really believe the states should decide the marriage question for themselves. It just makes no sense to say “leave it to the states,” without adding one or both of these statements.
As to the second bad idea attributed to Governor Perry, I will take it up in another post.