A judge has ruled that when states legalize gay marriage, that takes priority over the federal Defense of Marriage Act, with its definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman. Conservatives tend to push states’ rights, while liberals tend to believe federal law should trump state law. Reactions to this ruling, though, go against those tendencies. Interestingly, “tea partiers” are being consistent, praising the ruling as a victory for states’ rights. Here are some details:
A judge’s decision on Thursday declaring that a state law allowing same-sex marriage in Massachusetts should take precedence over a federal definition of marriage has exposed the fractures and fault lines among groups working to bolster states’ rights.
The decision, by Judge Joseph L. Tauro of United States District Court in Boston, supports and echoes a central tenet of the Tea Party, 9/12 and Tenth Amendment movements, all of which argue that the authority of the states should trump Washington in most matters not explicitly assigned by the Constitution to the federal government.
Congress, the judge said, had infringed on a question that was the province of local voters and legislators.
But in using the argument to support gay marriage in Massachusetts, where the case arose, the judge created an awkward new debating point within the less-government movement about where social goals and government policy intersect, or perhaps collide.
Some people involved in the campaigns to limit Washington’s reach cheered what they said was a states’ rights victory.
“The Constitution isn’t about political ideology,” said Michael Boldin, the founder of the Tenth Amendment Center, a group based in Los Angeles. “It’s about liberty, and limiting the government to certain divisive issues — I applaud what I consider a very rare ruling from the judiciary.” . . .
A spokeswoman for one of the biggest Tea Party umbrella organizations, Tea Party Patriots, said that social questions were not part of their mission.
“As far as an assertion of states’ rights goes, I believe it’s a good thing,” said Shelby Blakely, executive director of The New Patriot Journal, the group’s online publication. “The Constitution does not allow federal regulation of gay marriage just as it doesn’t allow for federal regulation of health care.”
So, is the outcome the only thing that matters to you, or is it important to follow the principle, even though the outcome might not be what you want?