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.
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.