January 16, 2005

Bush Lukewarm on Gay Marriage Amendment?

Andrew Sullivan, who of course is a big tub-thumper for legalizing gay marriage, although tactically he wants to cool it, reprints and comments on part of an interview in which Bush says the Senate has spoken on the issue, and unless the Defense of Marriage Act is overturned, won't go for the Amendment.

Glenn Reynolds suggests that Bush is "lukewarm" on the amendment.

Sullivan, on the other hand, thinks Bush is right, and the pro-gay-marriage camp should not push the issue until people get used to the idea as practiced in Massachusetts:

But this piece of sanity from the President deserves praise and reciprocation from those of us who support equality in marriage. We should refrain from any constitutional or legal challenge to DOMA for the foreseeable future (something I've urged for a long time now). We should also refrain from any attempt to force any state to recognize a gay marriage from another state (of course that's different from a state voluntarily recognizing such marriages). We should practise moderation, just as the Senate is practising moderation. We already have civil marriage rights in one state. Massachusetts. Very soon, it will be clear that Massachusetts' judicial decision will be endorsed by its own legislature, making this case a matter not simply of judicial activity but democratic legitimacy. And then we should bide our time and let the example of Massachusetts set in. I'm convinced that once the reality of this reform sinks in, fears will recede.

The gay movement is not centralized or sensible enough to pursue this "salami" strategy (one slice at a time).

Bush's stance does make perfect political sense. The FMA is going nowhere unless some court, citing the "full faith and credit" clause of the Constitution, which requires each state to respect the judicial acts of its sister states, requires a "no gay marriage" state to recognize a Massachusetts gay marriage. Expending political capital on this issue until then would be a futile act.

Notwithstanding the Lawrence opinion, the Supreme Court may well find a rationale for not applying full faith and credit to gay marriage. Lawrence was about equal protection and sexual privacy, both of which have a long history in the Court. On the other hand, federal courts have mostly shied away from family law issues. (But not always. The Court has applied equal protection reasoning to illegitimacy.) The issue is bound to come up, and then we'll see.

HT: Instapundit.

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