Why an amendment?

I watched San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom last night on CNN's Larry King Live, where he repeatedly argued that the same-sex marriages being performed in his city were fully constitutional:

KING: Were you challenging, Mayor, the wishes of the people of California?

NEWSOM: No, I was actually upholding my constitutional oath to bear full faith and allegiance to the constitution of the state of California. And Larry, nowhere in that constitution does it allow me to discriminate against people. And what we were doing previous to our directive was, I believe, discriminating people. And I find that abhorrent and I find that inappropriate. And we wanted to stand up on principle, stand up on a constitutional footing, and we made the appropriate action. Now 3,300-plus couples have affirmed their love, in and turn, Larry, I believe my marriage has been affirmed. …

Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R, Colo.), who introduced the Federal Marriage Amendment that President Bush endorsed yesterday, sought to portray the SF marriages as illegal:

MUSGRAVE: Well, I just wanted to say it's amazing to me that the mayor can defy the law and talk about it as though it were a noble thing. What if mayors around the nation just openly defied the law? What kind of a country would we have? I believe when you're an elected official, you should have respect for the law. And the people of California have had a ballot initiative. The definition of marriage in California is a union between one man and one woman.

KING: Mayor?

NEWSOM: Well, Congresswoman, we are in the courts now discussing that point. We're discussing the constitutionality of that effort. The system works quite well. There's nothing to fear, Congresswoman. The fact is, when we took this action to uphold the constitution of the state of California, where clearly, by the very nature of the fact that people feel that they need to amend the constitution, we took appropriate acts to bear full faith and allegiance by the nondiscriminatory nature of the language. We feel we're doing the right thing.

Newsom highlights the contradiction embraced by those who want to argue both that same-sex marriages are not constitutional and that the Constitution must be amended in order to make such marriages illegal.

If these marriages are not constitutional, then there is no need for the FMA.

If these marriages are constitutional, then one cannot argue that they are illegal or illegitimate.

The very effort to introduce and eventually ratify something like the Federal Marriage Amendment concedes the essence of Newsom's argument. Supporters of the amendment, therefore, are at least tacitly conceding that theirs is an effort designed to alter the Constitution in order to make it less inclusive than it is today.

Positions embraced by this White House are, we have learned, subject to change. Perhaps next week the president will come out in favor of a compromise — say that a same-sex couple counts as three-fifths of a marriage.

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P.S. If you'd like to weigh in on the question "Should gay marriage be legal in Delaware?" you can do so here.

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  • drieux just drieux

    Sorta bashed it on the head there now haven’t you.
    We have three constitutional amendments in flight right now
    a. protect hetersexual right to divorce
    b. save arnold’s chance to run for Prez
    c. protect vacuous god language
    rather than deal with
    1. Tenant’s new chat about WMD’s in the hands of terrorists – never mind the Ricin Attacks in D.C. or the cynide bomb in texas – those are domestic issues
    2. The 2004 economic numbers that the president has totally backed away from that will impact any possible tax revenue that could have been generated from income.
    3. The ongoing questions of ‘detainees’ and why Saddam is a POW
    4. the hard and fast sovereignty date for iraq without any plans for an exit strategy to bring the National Guard and Reservists home.
    5. The strong dollar policy and unpegging the chinese yuan from the dollar
    6. The victoria palme crisis and the question of protecting CIA assets
    7. The various Haliburton Questions both domestic and foreign
    8. What was the President’s Position on his time in the National Guard – rather than following Kerry et al into vietnam to take his shiney hiney where his lips were flapping.
    9. the total fiasco of the “no child left behind”
    10. The Bloating of the Medicare Program that is at least a 1/3rd more expensive than the president had informed congress it would be.
    11. The North Korean Nuclear Missiles and the Policy of Appeasement
    So yeah, I guess if the choice were to run on the record or to be an innovator of new and interesting scribblings on the Constitution….
    Now if only Tom DeLay and the rest of the Congressional Republicans could work out whether or not they fully supported the Commander In Chief, in a time of Tax Cuts, or are they really going to be running for cover on this one.

  • Edward Liu

    Drieux, your list omits the non-existent problem of global warming that the Pentagon is already making contingency plans for. Not to mention the growing budget deficit that somehow doesn’t seem to matter any more.
    Personally, I think the proper response to anybody attempting to raise gay marriage as an issue is to ignore the question and bring up any of the above topics instead. It’s a bad attempt to change the subject, and I don’t feel like letting them do so.
    That being said, I will fully support this amendment if, in the interest of protecting the sanctity of marriage, the wording is changed to also outlaw divorces and annulments.
    — Ed

  • drieux just drieux

    Ed, you are correct, one really can not do justice to the bloating list of fiasco’s that the current administration has fumbled into without any idea how to fix any of them. But
    I must take exception with you in regards to the budget deficit, since the core problem with the employment numbers – as noted in point 2 – is that without the increase in folks who can be taxed on their wages, there is not going to be that majik ‘supply side’ economics that will lift the Federal Government out of Debt. So it is not really like any of us have stopped worrying about it. We TRIED TO WARN YOU ALL BACK IN 2000! That the numbers did not make sense at all!
    My complements to your sobriety that ‘divorce’ and ‘annulment’ are the leading cause of marriage dissolutions in the United States of America. But try to look at the problem from my side of the Line. Now that the USN has Issued Muslim Chaplains to the USMC I am under obligations to know one more set of ‘rites of the dead’ pending relief by more competent authorities. So maybe it is time for americans to work out how much they really want to ‘support the troops’ and which of their ‘but everyone knows’ are actually what ‘everyone knows’.
    So unlike you I think that IT IS a good topic to discuss and work out, why exactly have we decided to Oppose Mormon Polygamy when we were shipping Morman’s into Hostile Fire Pay Zones? And now with shipping good muslims into the Fight. Where exactly were americans really putting their Faith Into Practice? What is the ‘sanctity of marriage’? Does it arise from the State?
    cf Christians Rioting For Jesus?

  • Bush in crazy same sex marriage ammendment election gambit

    from Slacktivist:[…]
    Newsom highlights the contradiction embraced by those who want to argue both that same-sex marriages are not constitutional and that the Constitution must be amended in order to make such marriages illegal.
    If these marriages a…

  • Hal O’Brien

    First off, I pointed people to this post on my LiveJournal.
    But I had a follow up comment, which is:
    “You know all those “Defense of Marriage” laws that have been passed in the last few years?
    Again, the only reason one would need a Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA) (or something similiar) would be if you already acknowledge that they’re all unconstitutional. That same-sex marriage really is not just allowed, but mandated under the Constitution as it currently stands, and that without modification all those damned bills are going to be thrown out by the courts.
    So, this is what today’s headline of yesterday’s speech by Bush should be:
    Calls For 1st-Ever Amendment To Strip Current Rights
    …not that you’ll see it that way, of course.”
    Drieux: Polygamy (and plural marriages in general) are illegal in the US because of the Supreme Court decision Reynolds v. US, 98 US 145 (1879). The Reynolds court decided that the limit to free religious practice ended when there was what we would call a substantial, secular, public-policy reason for the government to interfere. In 1879, the problem was the intense jealousy against the Mormons, given the gender disparities in the Wild Wild West.
    I actually think that both same-sex and multiple-partner marriages would be an affirmation of Reynolds today… Mostly because there is no secular, public-policy reason to ban such marriages. The main problems objectors have with them boil down to religious ones. Using the power of government to enforce one group’s vision of “sin” upon another is exactly what the First Amendment’s clauses regarding Congress making, “no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” are about.
    If the Federal Marriage Amendment passes, it is the death-knell of religious freedom in this country. What will be next? An amendment banning all religions save the President’s own?
    That is the real issue here.

  • drieux

    Hal, thank you for the leg work on the specific court ruling, and with it the specific ‘context’ by which we started down INTO this mess of having the federal government obliged to make law to protect people from being openly stoopider than they should be in polite society. The big comedy of course is that the ‘gender disparities’ problem was also meddling with the traditional ‘free market system’ in which goods and services are to be defined by the market and not by the Apparachniki in the PolitBuru’s five year plan.
    { fair warning notice: drieux is still crabby at the NeoConClowns of the 90’s explaining to moi that ‘the free market won the cold war’.
    having been invovled in ‘black market related program activities’ I have
    a deep respect for “true free market systems” – but that also means bringing one’s own firepower to the ‘contract negotiations’ as one is not digging into the profit margin to support a civil and criminal legal system. But what hopefully more americans will figure out is that Lawyers are still cheaper in the long run. }
    Your concern about the FMA being a threat to the free exercise of religion is a painfully astute insight into what happens when we pass the “Vacuous God Language” Ammendment – that gag of HR3799 – the so called “constitutional restoration act”. For those who have not been involved with folks who were doing ‘bible smuggling’ and other ‘crimes against the state’ you may wish to go back and re-do your readings.
    I will note the word of advice from the Polish Evangelical Church before the communim fell. It was both good politics, as well as merely being civil, that one not start church services until the State Security Man was in attendence. Many of those who think that the ‘constitutional ammendments’ will majikally protect them, would likewise do well to do a bit more reading.
    I should also make it clear that having served with “gay” personnel, that in the clinche, bottom of the nineth inning, 3/2 pitch time, I have obligations to support those I served with over the mere concerns of those who could not get around to ‘active duty status’ for what ever reason. But I should note that some of my civilian friends have explained to me why it is important for me to be at least knowledgeable about ‘gender preference and commitment issues’ – since well, it simplifies sorting out how to lay out dinner arrangements and make sure that one has deployed “spouse” and/or “spousal related activities programmes” as one is suppose to per the manual. Ok, so there was a time where I was carried in the division officer’s log book as “wife” – since at the time they did not have the new log book paper work with ‘spouse’ – and I was not the active duty person.
    Perchance it was a prelude to amusement about how hard and fast the term “wife” should be taken….

  • drieux just drieux

    thought I would test to see how posting a follow up in your blog would
    work out.
    Republic or Theocracy
    You seem to be a bit new to some of the problems that have been
    in play with the ‘dominionists’ and other so called ‘christian’ groups
    so you may have more reading that you will need to do.
    but livejournal had issues I do not understand.