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Goldberg's Behind on Gay Marriage
07/01/2003

Seemingly to work his way out of the lonely hole that he dug for himself by suggesting that social conservatives surrender in the homosexual battle of the culture war, Jonah Goldberg has found the federalism escape hatch:

So what's wrong with federalism? Would it really be so terrible if gay marriage were legal in Massachusetts but illegal in Kentucky? I remain unconvinced that marriage is a "fundamental right" and therefore immune to government regulation. I also remain unconvinced that fundamental rights cannot be regulated. After all, when my dad was a kid, some books were "banned in Boston" (a huge selling point) but legal in New York. And free speech is certainly more of a fundamental right under our Constitution than marriage (I'm just going by what the thing says). If folks in Hawaii want gay marriage, ask yourself how much it would really matter to people in Wyoming. What if you live in Hawaii and you lose the democratic battle? You can always move to Wyoming. And, if you're gay in Wyoming and you lose a similar battle? Well, you can move to Hawaii. Would this create all sorts of annoying paperwork because marriages would be less "portable" from state to state? Yes, yes it would. Would this be unfair to some folks? Sure. But everyone is going to have to realize that nobody is going to get everything they want on this issue. So I say, eat your rootmarm and get over it.

My last sentence before the blockquote sounds a little more sarcastic than I meant it to; I really do find Jonah's argument well considered and thoroughly reasonable. But I think it represents an unrealistic restatement of suggestions already made and rejected... rejected by the advocates of gay marriage (probably because they think they're winning). To be sure, Andrew Sullivan tries to position his argument within the context of federalism, but taking a broad view of his writing on the topic shows that he does so disingenuously.

Indeed, the first thing to come to mind when I read the above paragraph from Goldberg was that Rick Santorum essentially made the same argument about sodomy — it shouldn't be a federal issue — and was attacked with the intent to kill, or at least maim, his public career. I wrote at the time that federalism would be ideal but isn't acceptable to "activists." When the Supreme Court's ruling on the Texas sodomy law was announced last week, I heard homosexual activists on the radio talking about how that state's law oppressed homosexuals all across the country.

And that is why those who oppose judicially instituted federal gay marriage must act on a national scale, as with the marriage amendment. It is a defensive maneuvre, not an aggressive one, and as such is necessitated by the opposing side. The suggested amendment, I believe, leaves the way open for individual states to institute various marriage-like policies for homosexuals. Perhaps the combination of so decisively losing this battle and having an alternative route to pursue — via legislature — homosexuals will shift their internal culture in acknowledgement that they can't "get everything that they want on this issue." In doing so, hopefully they will act in ways that indicate to the rest of society that their relationships are closer to traditional marriage and love than to corrosive expressions of lust.

Posted by Justin Katz @ 11:59 AM EST