15 Apr 2009 03:17 pm
Partial DOMA Repeal?

There are moves afoot to retain DOMA's deference to the states on matters of marriage and civil unions, while allowing the federal government to recognize the legal, valid civil marriages in the four states that allow them. My own view is that the federal government's refusal to recognize the civil marriages of four states is an affront to federalism and the constitution. The feds recognized inter-racial civil marriages in many states even as many other states banned them. But I'd be leery of doing much more than this, of extending federal recognition of gay couples in states where such marriages or civil unions have been banned, because that too violates a core principle of federalism.

And I see no reason why the federal government need make a decision on what to call these marriages at a federal level. Just provide them with the exact same rights and responsibilities as heterosexual marriages, and leave the nomenclature to the states.

Why am I being such a gay rights pantywaist on this? Because I believe the federal government should represent all the people - those in states that bar civil equality for gay couples and those that do not. It should therefore stay as neutral as possible. It need not take a national decision on this, and such a consensus is impossible anyway. That's why parts of DOMA were offensive - a bid to boss the states around. Repealing part of it would be a return to the oldest and deepest American tradition on marriage: that it is a state and not a federal concern.

http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.co...ma-repeal.html