Poll Position: Should gay marriage be left up to the states?

Rick Perry, the three-term Texas governor and somewhere-between-rumored-and-announced GOP presidential candidate, raised some social conservatives’ eyebrows last week with this comment about New York’s new gay marriage law:

Our friends in New York six weeks ago passed a statute that said marriage can be between two people of the same sex. And you know what? That’s New York, and that’s their business and that’s fine with me. That is their call. If you believe in the 10th Amendment, stay out of their business.

The remark to a gathering of Republican donors came as a surprise to many social conservatives because Perry is regarded as one of their own. Asked about the comment in a radio interview with Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, Perry drew a distinction between it and his personal beliefs: “It’s fine with me that a state is using their sovereign rights to decide an issue. Obviously, gay marriage is not fine with me. My stance hasn’t changed.” He also said he favored a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage:

I have long supported the appointment of judges who respect the constitution and the passage of a federal marriage amendment. That amendment defines marriage between one man and one woman, and it protects the states from being told otherwise. It respects the rights of the state by requiring three quarters of a states vote to ratify. It’s really strong medicine but is again our founding fathers had such great wisdom and their wisdom is just as clear and profound today as it was back in the late eighteenth century.

Michele Bachmann, another social conservative who’s officially running for president, has spoken in favor of the same approach.

Back to Perry: The Texas governor also reiterated his 10th Amendment stance this week by saying the legality of abortion should be up to the states if the Supreme Court were ever to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Should gay marriage be decided state by state?

  • No (104 Votes)
  • Yes (103 Votes)

Total Voters: 207

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Perry is being consistent on the states’ rights issue. But is that a principled position or a cop-out? Should the issue of gay marriage — we’ll leave out abortion for today, since Roe is still very much in force — be decided on a state-by-state basis until/unless there’s a constitutional amendment on the issue? Or would there be too many problems caused by gay marriages that are recognized in some states but not others (which the Defense of Marriage Act, now in legal limbo, was passed in part to address)?

That’s this week’s Poll Position. Answer in the poll and in the comments thread — and know that I will be keeping a close eye on comments to make sure they are substantive and in good taste.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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125 comments Add your comment

ByteMe

July 29th, 2011
6:18 am

Marriage is a state issue.

However, the “full faith and credit” clause means that a marriage in one state is valid in all states. That’s basic “contract law” and that’s where DOMA fails and will be struck down if it’s not repealed first.

The whole “let’s have a constitutional amendment” argument is the cop-out by people who aren’t getting their way. We can’t get a constitutional amendment to codify women’s rights, but we need one to prevent two people from marrying each other in New England? That’s just a “dog whistle” to the social conservatives without having to waste any real effort on promising them anything he’s going to regret later.

Lil' Barry Bailout

July 29th, 2011
6:20 am

It’s unfortunate that it has to be “left up to” any government entity. Normal Americans know and understand what marriage is, and it has nothing to do with government. Unfortunately we have too many folks with not much to do other than deconstruct the institutions that made America great. Their efforts are the root cause of most of our social ills–illegitimacy, poverty, the breakup of families, the prevention of family formation, drug use, etc.

Joel Edge

July 29th, 2011
6:50 am

Defense of Marriage should stay in place. Then let the states decide. That’s a good plan. Unfortunately, as we’ve seen, some people can’t let a majority decision stand. You can’t compromise with people when they’re not willing to compromise. I remember when it was about legal protection in “civil unions”. Now that’s not good enough. What’s next.

Ayn Rant

July 29th, 2011
7:01 am

The choice of a marriage partner is personal; it is not a state or federal matter. It is a right protected by the opening paragraph of the Constitution and the Tenth Amendment.

The federal and state governments should enact no laws regarding marriage, and citizens should not vote or participate in polls about it. In this as in all other matters, governments and individuals should mind their own business.

Same sex marriage is appropriate for homosexuals, and is a compliment to the institution of marriage. Anyone who puts same sex marriage above divorce as a threat to the institution of marriage is a hypocrite, or worse, probably a right-wing Republican bent on destroying our constitutional rights and our economy!

Cobb Teacher

July 29th, 2011
8:00 am

If you are against gay marriage, don’t marry a gay person. Or in the case of Michelle Bachmann’s husband, rail against gay marriage while all the while pretending that you’re straight.

Aquagirl

July 29th, 2011
8:11 am

What’s next.

Gay Marriage. Didn’t you notice the HUGE change in the World As We Know It when it was legalized in Vermont? Remember the riots, panic, mass divorces and collapse of Western Civilization?

Better start digging that bomb shelter, Joel. The 21st century is not a safe place for you.

John

July 29th, 2011
8:23 am

ByteMe is correct…it is a state issue as far as having their own laws when it comes to marriage but a marriage legally entered into in 1 state is valid in all states. This is currently how heterosexual marriage is handled…such as age restrictions.

What I find curious, Kyle, can you explain how you think Perry is being consistent. He’s really talking out of both sides of his mouth. First he says it’s a state’s right…”That is their call. If you believe in the 10th Amendment, stay out of their business” and “It’s fine with me that a state is using their sovereign rights to decide an issue” but then says he supports a federal constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. That would mean up to 12 states would loose their their sovereign rights to decide the issue. Isn’t that double speak?

Lil' Barry Bailout

July 29th, 2011
8:27 am

If it’s made part of the Constitution, then by definition it wouldn’t be a states rights issue.

Red

July 29th, 2011
8:29 am

Interracial marriage was a decision best left to the states until 1967 and so will be the course of gay marriage I believe.

For a party whose rhetoric enshrines the sanctity of the document that is our constitution, the Repubs sure do want to change it a lot.

Maybe I’m just cynical (I really am) but I think the balance budget amendment and marriage amendment is a long run up to a long sought abortion ban amendment.

Lil' Barry Bailout

July 29th, 2011
8:30 am

“If you are against gay marriage, don’t marry a gay person.”
——-

Marriage is between one man and one woman. If you don’t want to get married, don’t.

Sean Smith

July 29th, 2011
8:36 am

If you want to protect the sanctity of marriage lets ban divorce.
The world would be a lot better place if people would mind their own business and quit telling others how to live their lives. If you don’t believe in gay marriage than don’t marry someone your sex, but don’t tell me how to live my life based on your beliefs in mythology.

retiredds

July 29th, 2011
8:42 am

Lil Barry: If you subscribe (and don’t selectively use for one argument and not another) to the 10th Amendment and “States Rights” then there is a fallacy to your argument. It should read, if you are against gay marriage don’t go live in New York, Vermont, Sweden, Denmark, or wherever gay marriage is legal. I don’t like to gamble so I don’t go to Nevada because it’s legal there.

Pizzaman

July 29th, 2011
8:46 am

I don’t understand how anyone can support “a constitutional amendment” for anything and “states rights”. Guess that’s why I don’t understand right wing conservatives.

Stonethrower

July 29th, 2011
8:47 am

I agree with Sean Smith. If we want to save the institution of marraige then let’s make it difficult to get a divorce. Better yet, make it illegal to cohabitate outside the bonds of matrimony. Naw…….that won’t work.

Bart Abel

July 29th, 2011
8:51 am

Gay marriage shouldn’t be left up to the states any more than any other question of discrimination or civil rights should be left up to the states. In other words, no state should have the discretion to ban gay marriage in their state (and I’d support a constitutional amendment saying that, if necessary).

Gay or straight, nobody chooses their sexual orientation, because we can’t any more than we can choose our skin color. I look forward to the day when we grow up and put this issue behind us forever.

that's goofy

July 29th, 2011
8:55 am

if you really want to “defend marriage” make divorce illegal.

It is discriminatory to deny consenting homosexual adults the same legal rights and responsibilities as heterosexuals.

Aquagirl

July 29th, 2011
8:56 am

Guess that’s why I don’t understand right wing conservatives.

Me either. Democrats tell you they’re in favor of welfare and they vote the same way. Republicans, however, talk about how deeply they cherish something before they run it down like a possum on 285.

Richard

July 29th, 2011
9:01 am

Why not just get rid of government marriage licenses and the ability to file taxes jointly. Let the religious institutions set the parameters over who they allow people to marry.

Like the true conservatives say: keep the government out!

midtownguy

July 29th, 2011
9:03 am

If we let the majority rule in Georgia, we would still have segregated schools. Some people have to be brought forward kicking and screaming.

The social conservatives can rant and rave about gay marriage all they want but it is inevitable. Just look at any poll on the issue and the major determinant is age group. For those under 35 (referred to as the Will and Grace generation) sexual orientation is a non-issue. You can’t win this one.

John

July 29th, 2011
9:09 am

“I don’t understand how anyone can support “a constitutional amendment” for anything and “states rights”. Guess that’s why I don’t understand right wing conservatives.”

They’re easy to understand…they believe in states rights only when the states believe the same way they do; otherwise, they believe in Constitutional amendments to force the states into their beliefs.

retiredds

July 29th, 2011
9:16 am

John, couldn’t agree with you more. The right will yell, “holler, jump up and down about states rights and the 10th Amendment until they disagree with the issue and then they all of a sudden become “federalists”. It’s the same way they approach “activist judges”, the definition of which is a judge who disagrees with my conservative view of the world.

midtownguy

July 29th, 2011
9:17 am

John: My example is related to education. For years the conservative ranted and raved about “interference” from the Department of Education and the NEA and pronounced that the local school boards should be in total control (including allowing prayer in public schools).

Then, a handful of local school boards kicked out the Boy Scouts of America (Atlanta being one of them) over their refusal to let a gay man be a scout master and they went ballistic. The result was the Defense of Scouting Act. They only support local control when the locals are conservatives.

quick work break

July 29th, 2011
9:19 am

“Should biracial marriage permission be decided state by state?”

carlosgvv

July 29th, 2011
9:19 am

I think abortions, the death penality and gay marriage are issues that should be decided by the States. Opinions are so diverse and divided on these issues that the only way to approach fairness is to let the States decide.

Lil' Barry Bailout

July 29th, 2011
9:21 am

That’s right, midtown–the Boy Scouts right to free association was violated.

retiredds

July 29th, 2011
9:24 am

As an aside, have you seen the picture of John Boehner on the front page of the AJC this morning. As it is said, “he don’t look none too happy”. Also the great GA Representative Tom Graves made a statement about a US default that the Truth-O-Meter rated as false. My guess is he’ll probably say the Truth-O-Meter is a left-wing cabal.

retiredds

July 29th, 2011
9:26 am

correction, that should be Tom Price not, Graves. I just can’t keep my names straight these days. I’ll have to go back to the asylum I guess.

David B.

July 29th, 2011
9:28 am

This must be the medieval column of the week. Slave ownership, as well as race determination, were covered under state laws. You people, especially Kyle, are the scum of the earth. The hubris you demonstrate here is unconscionable.

JF McNamara

July 29th, 2011
9:31 am

I voted No, because it gay marriage is a basic freedom. States don’t get to pick and choose on freedoms. DOMA is nothing more than Jim Crow for gays.

If you are a homophobe, get over it. People will be gay whether they are married or not. The only difference is insurance and hospital visits.

midtownguy

July 29th, 2011
9:37 am

I will be waiting on the Republican controlled house to draft the “Defense of Gay-Straight Alliance Clubs” act because their right to free association is being violated in conservative, suburban school districts every day.

jconservative

July 29th, 2011
9:38 am

From the 14th Amendment: “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

Notice the “…the equal protection of the laws.” clause. The Supreme Court has ruled several times that marriage is a basic fundamental right guaranteed by the US Constitution. If you say that two people cannot marry because of different skin color, that is unconstitutional. If you say that two people cannot marry because of different religions, that is unconstitutional.

So, is preventing two people from marrying because of being the same sex Constitutional? That is the question on the table, and will be the question before the Court.

This is the basic argument of Ted Olsen and David Boies in their challenge to the California Prop 8 vote. The case is in the pipeline headed for the Supreme Court.

The Court has ruled many times that a fundamental Constitutional right cannot be taken away from the people by State action. The latest was the McDonald gun case from Chicago where the Court ruled that Chicago could not take away a person’s right to keep a firearm in his house for protection.

The issue will be decided there.

And on Amending the Constitution: that will work if you can get 287 votes in the House and 67 votes in the Senate to send the proposed Amendment to the States. Then you will need to get 38 of the 50 States to ratify the Amendment. Or you can get the legislatures of 38 States to call for a convention. Good luck!

Edward

July 29th, 2011
9:39 am

What is funny is that the states with the LOWEST divorce rates are those that recognize same-gender unions. The states with the HIGHEST divorce rates are right here in the “bible belt”. Last time I checked, in both the old and new testaments, divorce was severely limited and frowned upon in those texts, but that fact is conveniently dismissed by most “bible believing” people. And remarriage? That is adultery in most all cases, according to that same bible. I do believe adultery made the Top Ten list of No-Nos. But, I don’t see people marching to the capitals demanding divorce and remarriage to be prohibited. Why is that?

Stevie Ray

July 29th, 2011
9:44 am

I’m in the process of a divorce and have decided if I want to commit the balance of my life again, I will have a civil union instead of marriage license. Why are people so insecure about this? An “institution” boasting a 50% failure rate? Are those with “imaginary friends” (aka evangelical religion) primarily the ones generating the fervor? If so, it’s simply another example of same trying to sidetrack (see physics, evolution, sex) progress and human rights.

tiredofIT

July 29th, 2011
9:55 am

“Marriage is between one man and one woman. If you don’t want to get married, don’t.”

Says who, the invisible man in the sky?

midtownguy

July 29th, 2011
9:55 am

jconservative is spot on correct. Any time someone starts telling me what the “bible says” about abortion, homosexuality or anything else in regard to cases before the court I just reply “what the Bible says is irrelevant except in regard to your personal choices and beliefs, the only thing that matters in regard to the law is what the constitution says.”

And whey they come back with “but this is a Christian country” I reply “no it isn’t, it is a religiously neutral country in which most of the citizens are Christians. That’s not the same thing”

Point/Counterpoint

July 29th, 2011
10:00 am

Why is it no one ever invokes the bible when ordering a ham sandwhich, or deciding whether or not to stone a woman for disrespecting her husband, or cutting off peoples hands for stealing? Seems to me that the bible should be an all or nothing proposition. I just wish people would stop being so selective when throwing it out there.

Stevie Ray

July 29th, 2011
10:10 am

Fear and untold misery to the human race characterize religion to me but I could be wrong. I have identified two meaningful contributions…it helped fix the calendar and drove the Egyptians to to chronicle eclipses. Seems there exist much fear that another tenet will be diluted…how many more are left? Let gays marry, divorce, adopt, and argue like the rest of us…

Steve

July 29th, 2011
10:20 am

“State’s Rights” when it comes to civil issues has always been code for racism or prejudice. Just let gay people marry. Gays pay taxes, spend money, work in normal jobs, even raise kids. They clean up the neighborhoods…they are PEOPLE. Stop the insanity. We have bigger fish to fry than worrying about gays marrying. Why aren’t people worrying about the sky high hetero marriage divorce rate??

kitty

July 29th, 2011
10:20 am

midtownguy, both of your comments are spot on. The Bible is not mentioned in our Constitution and this is not a Christian country. It is a country whre most say they are christian. These same folks love their porn, alcohol and divorce so this is nowhere a christian country based on how Christ defined it.

Kyle Wingfield

July 29th, 2011
10:25 am

I don’t understand why so many of you think there’s a conflict between believing the 10th Amendment means what it says and wanting to amend the Constitution.

Take the 26th Amendment (setting the voting age at 18). Was it not possible before 1971, when the amendment was ratified, for someone to believe both that there should be a uniform voting age across the country and that, until such an amendment passed, the authority to set voting ages lay with the states?

Kyle Wingfield

July 29th, 2011
10:26 am

That said, I do tend to agree with the argument that a politician who says he’s in favor of a constitutional amendment as the answer to a problem — but who does virtually nothing to try to get said amendment passed and ratified — is usually just pandering.

Intown

July 29th, 2011
10:32 am

The 10th Amendment is meaningless. But, I don’t care how silly Repubs get there as long as they legalize same sex marriage.

semyon_suslov

July 29th, 2011
10:33 am

What would you think if the government decided to extend legal recognition and financial incentives to people, who smoke, drink to excess, gamble uncontrollably, engage in illicit drug use, or sexual relations with dozens of people of the opposite sex on a consistent basis? Further, what would you think if those people engaged in these behaviors because they had an uncontrollable urge that they couldn’t control and never chose to have? Further, what would you think if these people claimed that these behavioral urges – and the behaviors that resulted from them – were unchangeable and were, therefore, deserving of civil rights normally reserved for immutable traits, like race and gender – rights that no one could remove by vote or legislation? Finally, what would you think if the government agreed with these people and ended up encouraging these behaviors by extending to those, who engaged in them, the legal and financial incentives they demanded?

The vast majority would no doubt be rightfully outraged. How could government control behavior for the common good, if all people had to do was to claim an “uncontrollable urge” as a means of doing whatever they want, no matter the damage it would cause? Further, what about people, who are struggling with these urges and don’t want to succumb to them or others in whom the urge to engage in these behaviors would be triggered, because society was encouraging them through government recognition and incentives?

Well, guess what? That’s exactly what gay activists and proponents of same-sex marriage want the government do for them and, in a few states, has done. Yet, as the examples above show, this demand not only flies in the face of common sense and human health, but it completely violates the basis for law.

the Constitution clearly permits us to pass laws governing human behavior for the benefit of individuals and society. (1) Because some behaviors are beneficial, we pass laws to encourage them. Examples include buying a home, going to college, or starting a business. (2) Other behaviors have the potential for harm but prohibiting them would be undue burden on liberty. So for these behaviors we pass laws limiting them to consenting adults. Examples in this category are smoking, gambling, or drinking to excess. (3) Finally some behaviors are so egregiously harmful that we pass laws banning them and instituting harsh penalties if they’re broken. Examples in this category would be the taking of life or property.

Marriage between one man and one woman has consistently shown that it belongs in the first category of human behavior. In comparison, same-sex behavior, whether it occurs in a committed setting or not, clearly falls in the second behavioral category and, therefore, should not be encouraged with government-recognized marriage. The reasons are as follows:

1. Unlike race or gender, homosexuality can be triggered though social and cultural influences.

2. In comparison to heterosexuals, homosexuals are far more prone to bodily damage and disease, much of which is serious and life threatening.

3. Even in “committed” relationships, homosexuals, primarily men, are notoriously non-monogamous.

4. In areas that permit SSM, homosexuals are far more likely to divorce than heterosexuals.

5. Homosexuals experience more emotional and mental illness, than heterorsexuals.

6. Domestic violence is much more prevalent in male same-sex relationships than in heterosexual ones.

I would urge you and your readers to read the essay on which this post is based. Entitled “The Case for Limiting Government Recognition to Traditional Relationships,” it consists of an essay that I placed at,

http://marriage-onemanandonewoman.blogspot.com/

Here, besides finding a more detailed discussion of the list, above, readers will also find citations to the scientific references at the end of the essay. After considering what I’ve written here and/or in the essay, I would urge supporters of same-sex marriage to reconsider their views. If they can’t offer a fact-based rebuttal to what I’ve written, then neither they nor any other proponent of same-sex marriage has a right to demand that our government recognize same-sex marriage and subsidize it with tax and legal incentives, like it rightfully does for heterosexual marriage.

For those, who agree with what’s written herein, please help in sending this post and the essay link (in whatever form you like or rewrite it to your satisfaction) to as many as you know and ask that they do the same. Additionally, email it to your legislators and demand that they vote against any law permitting government recognition of same-sex marriage or put forth bills overturning it, if gay marriage exists in your state. In this way, we can bypass a very biased and dishonest media that’s only interested in broadcasting the propaganda generated by proponents of same-sex marriage and reach the public with the facts showing why same-sex behavior, whether it’s in a committed relationship or not, is a harmful and unhealthy behavior that shouldn’t be encouraged by the government through marriage.

The reason, of course, is because all good law is based on facts – not on the whims of one individual or even a few. Clearly, as I’ve shown here, the facts clearly oppose government-recognition of same-sex marriage.

Joel Edge

July 29th, 2011
10:34 am

Aquagirl@8:11
The 21 century isn’t looking like a safe place for anybody right now. The constant carping and complaining is meant to divide us. It seems to be working. I ask what’s next because there will always be a ‘next’. There will always be someone who is complaining, even do the determent of society as a whole. As I’ve posted elsewhere: self correcting.

Kitty Conrad

July 29th, 2011
10:48 am

Marriage should not be a state-by-state decision because of significant federal tax issues (joint income tax returns and estate and gift tax exemptions), unless DOMA is repealed or found unconstitutional.

There’s lots of debate about marriage being a religious thing, or being a legal thing. It’s really more about economics. Why would straight people want to prevent gay people from spending their money on expensive weddings, honeymoons and divorces?

Halftrack

July 29th, 2011
10:50 am

Limited Federal Government is the basis of our Constitution. The rights not granted to the Federal government is retained by the States. States rights is our heritage until some activist judge(s) wants to stick their nose in the wrong directions. Let’s get back to our ‘Founding principles”.

Vince Lombardi

July 29th, 2011
10:59 am

Basic human rights should not be a state-by-state decision invoked by the 10th Amendment. Check out Ted Olsen’s arguments before the 9th Circuit in Swarzenegger v. Perry. He cited plenty of constitutional clauses that California’s anti-gay marriage law violated that supercedes the 10th Amendment.

Mike south atlanta

July 29th, 2011
10:59 am

I don’t understand the Gay marriage issue. You have the conservatives and Christians arguing that it will destroy the institute of marriage. However we see all the time celebrity divorce, congress affairs, all sorts of cheating and divorce. But that’s not a problem. Its only if two people of the same sex want to marry where the problem is. I feel so out of the main stream on this, I have been married to the same woman for 20 years. Let adults marry other adults.

kitty

July 29th, 2011
11:08 am

samyon suslov, try posting from some non-self serving blog with real facts and get back to us. You said a whole bunch of nothing but your own opinion. How in the world does gay marriage really hurt you and your marriage? And people won’t be allowed to marry goats, there is something in all this about consenting ADULTS. Do you actually know any gay people? I kind of doubt it.

John

July 29th, 2011
11:14 am

Kyle, to be adamant and say you are for states’ rights but then support a constitutional amendment to force all states is really not for states’ rights. It’s forcing your beliefs on all states.

If conservatives want a constitutional amendment to define marriage at the federal level, then lets do it. Let’s set the full definition…including age requirements, religious requirements, no divorce, etc. Could even add no interracial or inter-religious marriage. Let’s come up with a single complete definition of marriage that all states must follow.