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Monday, June 19, 2006

Smilin' Norm on the Federal Marriage Amendment

Posted by: Hammer / 1:10 PM

From the latest issue of Norm's Notes:

First, despite overwhelming support from the American people, Senate Democrats voted down bringing the Marriage Amendment to the Senate floor last week. The amendment, which would have allowed the citizens of each state to vote on the definition of marriage, is necessary to ensure the institution of marriage remains as it always has: between one man and one woman. The amendment would have ensured that courts could not require states to define marriage otherwise, but instead of protecting this definition from activist judges, a number of my colleagues from the other side of the aisle led the charge to prevent this issue from coming to a vote. I am disappointed we were not able to press forward on this important issue for our families and nation, but rest assured this is not the end of this fight.

Is that accurate? I think it insinuates something rather untrue. Here's the text of the amendment:

2004 version (H.J. Res. 106 (108th Congress 2004) and S.J. Res. 40 (108th Congress 2004)):

1. Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman.

2. Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman.

The amendment doesn't really allow voting. The amendment process, of course, does require that the various states vote on whether to ratify the amendment. So there clearly would be the opportunity to vote on the definition of marriage. Coleman's statement is literally true.

But is it accurate? The sense of what Coleman is saying is that we're letting the people vote for what they want. But that's not true. We're letting the people in Texas vote for what the people in Massachusetts want. Screw you, Massachusetts.

It's troubling from a constitutional perspective, that the federal amendment would alter state constitutions and limit state courts from interpreting their own laws. Traditionally, federal courts have deferred to the state courts to interpret their own laws. Who knew we had to throw out 200 years of jurisprudence because it's kinda icky when dudes kiss?


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