Friday, May 26, 2006

Convenient Federalism

NOW IS AS good a time as any to jump into the gay marriage debate. My interest in the issue does not center on whether gay marriage is acceptable from a moral perspective, but rather why there is such a push by Republicans to make this a federal issue. Why, for example, is the GOP pushing the Marriage Protection Act as a federal issue while at the same time trying to convince the public that abortion should be a state issue? Could it be because the MPA plays well in their polling data and they hope they can use the issue to salvage control of the House and Senate in November? You better believe it.

As usual, my thoughts on this have been triggered by outside sources -- this time Jon Rauch in his National Journal column. Here's a quick highlight:

Two questions for anti-gay-marriage, anti-abortion Republicans: If states can be allowed to go their own way in defining human life, why not allow them to go their own way in defining marriage? Where constitutional amendments are concerned, why is preventing gay couples from marrying so much more urgent than preventing unborn children from being killed?

It is precisely because marriage is so important, and because it is the subject of such profound moral disagreement, that a one-size-fits-all federal solution is the wrong approach. California and Texas, Massachusetts and Oklahoma take very different views of same-sex marriage. By localizing the most intractable moral issues, federalism prevents national culture wars.

Despite this critique, look for this issue to be a big part of the GOP strategy this fall.


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