Monday, January 08, 2007

Redux: marriage amendment proposed in my book in 1997


I have gotten some questions about the constitutional amendments propose my ten year old book “Do Ask, Do Tell: A Gay Conservative Lashes Back.”

There were two such amendments proposed in Chapter 6 of the 1997 book, and this blog entry is about the second of these, which reads (link here):

TWENTY-NINTH AMENDMENT: Marriage
Section 1.
No state will be required, under the Full Faith and Credit Clause, to honor a marriage made in another state if that marriage would not have been valid in the subject state.
Section 2.
The federal government is not bound by the marriage laws of any state in characterizing a marriage relationship for purposes of defining any federal tax liabilities or benefits or entitlements under federal law.
(TWENTY-EIGHT was a different and longer amendment.)

Of course, we have seen a couple of attempts by the Bush administration to protect “the sanctity of marriage” from “activist judges” by a constitutional amendment defining marriage as possible only between one man and one woman. So far, nothing has come close to a 2/3 majority in the House and Senate to get started (the biggest attempt happened in the summer of 2004).

The amendment that I proposed in 1997 was to encourage states to experiment on their own with various forms of domestic partnerships and civil unions. Of course, fully equal marriage rights would be the goal, but I was hoping that there could be a climate in which there could be advances. As we know, this has not gone well, as a number of states have amended their own constitutions to outlaw gay marriage and, sometimes, even civil unions (as in Virginia with Marshall-Newman). But my idea then (in 1997) was to encourage or take advantage of federalism and encourage some diversity among the states as an approach to this divisive social issue.

The amendment would seem to protect DOMA (the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act). Of course, I don't like DOMA, but oddly anti-amendment forces have had to argue that DOMA already protects states from FF&C challenges in from other states.

(The other proposed amendment is discussed at this blog entry.)

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