Crossing the Gay 'Marriage' Rubicon

Regis Nicoll
Regis Nicoll

In 1996, Tennessee U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp voted for the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Although he still believes in the traditional definition of marriage, he says he would vote differently today. The congressman, long known for his social conservatism, went as far as to praise the Supreme Court for striking down the law in United States v. Windsor. If you’re wondering how someone can both endorse marriage and, seemingly,not endorse it, let me explain.

Immediately after the High Court ruling, many social conservatives reasoned that it could have been a lot worse. Granted, the decision wasn’t the desired outcome but, at least, our robed masters didn’t nationalize gay “marriage” a la Roe v. Wade. For now, federalism was preserved and the business of defining “marriage” was left up to each state through the democratic process. For now.

Live and let live

Rep. Wamp, noting how “the whole issue of same-sex marriage has evolved” (a popular meme imparting a sense of manifest destiny), says he now sees this as a matter of states’ rights. "Let them live how they want to live in New York," he said. "I'll choose to live this way in Tennessee."

Whether Wamp’s “evolution” reflects conviction or capitulation to the sea change in public attitudes, it is wholly unrealistic. Federalism applied to marriage is social and legal chaos. A marriage that isn’t transportable from state to state isn’t marriage at all. It is a social construction that leads to discrimination, inequality, and confusion.

DOMA, in defining “marriage” only for federal purposes, did nothing to prevent those consequences, but, in fact, promoted them by allowing states to refuse to recognize marriages legally performed in other states. So, while the Court’s decision is not surprising, its rationale for it is quite telling.

Demeaning and disparaging

In the majority opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy cited DOMA’s infringement upon the constitutional provisions of due process and equal protection. Some of the more choice things he had to say about the law were that it “demeans” same-sex couples; “diminish[es] the stability and predictability of basic personal relations”; “humiliates tens of thousands of children now being raised by same-sex couples”; and serves to “disparage and to injure” homosexual couples and their families.

Lost upon Justice Kennedy is how those statements demean and disparage the bipartisan Congress that passed DOMA, the president (Bill Clinton) who signed it into law, and every civilization up until the present time. They even disparage Jesus Christ who, when the topic of marriage came up and despite the prevalence of homosexuality in His day, didn't revise the institution according to the “evolved” thinking of the culture, butreaffirmed it as originally established.

Lost upon Representative Wamp is what the Court’s rationale says about his gentlemanly hope in “live and let live” provincialism.

None of this has been lost upon columnist Charles Krauthammer. Continue reading here.

Originally published July 13, 2013.

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