States' rights aren't the issue.
Even as the Supreme Court considers whether gay marriage bans are unconstitutional, some conservative politicians are still fighting hard to make the lives of gay Americans as miserable as possible.
Officially the pols' explanation is that they're deeply, deeply concerned about states' rights. All they want to do is prevent the federal government and federal judges from imposing "mandatory gay marriage" (in the words of Sen. Ted Cruz
) on decent, god-fearing people and decent, god-fearing state legislators. I remain unconvinced.
Why? Well, take Rep. Randy Weber's bill. The Treasury announced a couple of years ago that legally married gay couples now get the same treatment as straight couples, even if they live in a state that doesn't recognize gay marriage. So Weber's bill says that the IRS must define marriage according to where a couple lives. Cruz has proposed a similar bill in the Senate.
I have a really hard time believing that whether the federal government lets two people sign a joint federal tax return is actually a states' rights issue, even if the two people are gay. I also don't believe that Cruz or Weber (or most anti-gay activists) believe it.
As I've written in the past, claims that opposition to gay marriage is all about the legal procedure don't hold water. Anti-gay conservatives such as Cruz, Weber and Rep. Steve King (who's proposed a bill to block federal courts from hearing gay-marriage cases) insist their driving concern is that unelected judges shouldn't force gay marriage on states that don't it. However we've had eight legislatures approve gay marriage and three states do it with a popular referendum; I've yet to hear the anti-gay side declare this makes a difference ("The people have spoken, not the judges, so I celebrate the victory of democracy!").
Why would they? According to the anti-gays, tolerating gay marriage is the fast track to America's downfall. It'll lead to bestiality! Immorality! Destroy Real Godly Christian marriage (I'm still waiting for an explanation how that works)! Unleash the real gay agenda of destroying religion/suppressing anti-gay speakers/forcing churches to perform gay marriage!
If someone really believes that, or wants to curry favor with voters who do, then gay marriage is bad, period. It doesn't matter whether it's legal because the people support it or because judges said it was going to happen anyway, it's still an abomination.
In the decade of legal gay marriage there's no sign of gay marriage somehow annihilating straight marriage, or of pink-booted storm troopers imposing their will on recalcitrant preachers, but the rhetoric continues. Some of it is probably sincere -- some conservatives love fantasizing they're martyrs
for their faith -- but I also think it's a strategic attempt to shift the debate.
Same-sex marriage (also known as gay marriage) is marriage between two persons of the same biological sex and/or gender identity. Legal recognition of same-sex marriage or the possibility to perform a same-sex marriage is sometimes referred to as marriage equality or equal marriage, particularly by supporters. | Photo: | Gay Marriage, Homosexual, Rights, Religion, Prop 8, Lesbian, Gay,
The late Republican campaign consultant Lee Atwater once described the strategy for running on racial issues: when it becomes toxic to say the n-word, start talking about state's rights. If that fails, change topics again, always moving to something that isn't racial on the surface.
In the 21st century, calls for outlawing gay sex and describing all gays as pedophiles alienate more voters than 20 years ago (though that line of argument hasn't died). Much safer to insist the real issue is states' rights, tyrannical judges, religious freedom, or the defense of marriage. Those don't sound so bad, right?
But the words don't hide the underlying loathing.
In a recent message about the Supreme Court hearing, Cruz said it was important for Christians to "be on the right side of history." He isn't.