Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Presidential Pushing

Even before the current Bush, Bill Clinton had several bouts of I'm-the-boss toying with rights. Same-sex marriage certainly is a key one. He came on heavy with federalism/states rights issues on that in 1996 with his Defense of Marriage Act (DoMA).

The two key concepts there are:
  • States can define marriage any way they want.
  • To the Feds, marriage is one man with one woman.
So, he sort of managed not quite to strip states of the rights to regulate marriage, while actively encouraging them to follow his ideal of straight only. As a result, states started passing laws and amendments limiting marriage, partnership and other rights homosexuals could have, including stripping some benefits and partnership rights they already had. Also, the Republican Congress tried twice (2004 and 2005) to pass an almost certainly unconstitutional Marriage Protection Act prohibiting the U.S. Supreme Court from hearing any challenges to DoMA.

In the end, many conservatives, both in D.C. and at home are willing to turn their backs on their centuries old tradition of states rights. They would cede the basic right of a state's legislature and courts to regulate marriage to an overarching set of federal laws.

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