I'm starting a new series of Constitutional studies. I think we Americans should do this in much the same way that church goers do Bible studies. This first one is a repeat of some research I did during the Presidential campaign last year. I have gay friends and family members so this issue is close to me, but I try not to let that bias how I read 'the law.' I look at the Constitution for what it says and not what I think it implies. That is where people get all messed up, when they start injecting their personal values on the law. That's not what our Constitution is about. It's about maintaining our freedom from excessive intrusion of government in our lives. The whole 'separation of Church and State' issue is concerned with keeping 'value judgments' out of our laws, but that's another study. This one was done in response to all the hoopla about gay marriage and a Constitutional Amendment about it and all the crazy crap people were throwing around about it.
Article IV Section 1: Full faith and credit shall be given in each State to the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general laws prescribe the manner in which such acts, records, and proceedings shall be proved, and the effect thereof. Section 2: The citizens of each State shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States....
No matter what laws a State's legislature passes, if it's determined by the US Supreme Court to be unconstitutional then it can't stand. It seems by the above that each State is required by the US Constitution to recognize each other State's marriages which fall into that catagory of 'public acts and records.'
Fourteenth Amendment Section 1: All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Again, I interpret that as a Constitutional guarantee that a person's rights, as a homosexual, should not be 'abridged' in any way that would deny them equal protection of the laws, including the right to marriage as well as employment or any other 'privileges' of 'life, liberty, or property.'
I have found nothing in the Constitution that would support any State not recognizing the marriages performed in other States. As for an amendment stating that marriage is between a man and a woman I just don't see why that's necessary. But that's not for the reasons that John Edwards said it was unnecessary in the VP debate:
"Under the law of this country for the last 200 years, no state has been required to recognize another state's marriage.
"Let me just be simple about this. My state of North Carolina would not be required to recognize a marriage from Massachusetts, which you just asked about.
"There is absolutely no purpose in the law and in reality for this amendment. It's nothing but a political tool. And it's being used in an effort to divide this country on an issue that we should not be dividing America on."
I think that Kerry and Edwards were doing more to turn it into a divisive subject.
The reason that I think an amendment is unnecessary is because gays getting married does nothing to invalidate, dilute, desanctify, or weaken heterosexual marriage. No one has given me any arguments strong enough to support that idea. If it's to do with 'sanctity' which means holiness or sacredness, then couldn't you just as easily say that purely civil marriages like are performed by the justice of the peace at the courthouse dilute, desanctify, and weaken Marriage too? But no one can reasonably say that a civil ceremony is less valid than a religious one. It seems pretty straight forward to me, but I guess I'm simple-minded or something.
When I first began my little Constitutional study last fall I stumbled upon one of the big legal issues of American lawmaking. It turns out that this 'full faith and credit' clause is and has been a big sore spot in our legal system. Ha. Whoda thought me and my little study would naively pick it out as a defense of gay marriage? If nothing else that tells me that someone without any 'legal' education can read the Constitution and come to a simple conclusion as to what it means in any particular case. I didn't know about any precedents that had been set in the past regarding states' marriages. In my research I found out that this clause has been used to defend polygamy among other things. So the Judges and Lawyers have decided that it doesn't stand if one state's law terribly offends or violates another state's 'public policy.' But to my simple mind it is clearly un-Constitutional to allow States to not recognize each other's laws. This is why some think that there must be a Constitutional Amendment to specify that marriage is between one man and one woman. An Amendment sounds like an easy solution, but it's wrong in the same way that the Prohibition Amendment (18th Amendment) was wrong. Yes, folks, that's right, don't you remember that there was a freakin' Constitutional Amendment about alcohol? Sometimes We the People do screw up. Let's not do it again this time with issue.
Also, please check this link that I saw on eatmisery's blog. Marriage Fairness. I haven't read all of that site, but it looks very informative. My own views on this issue have evolved from thinking that gay marriage was 'wrong' so many years ago to fully supporting it now because, as I said above, I have friends and family members who are affected by this issue.
And yes, I'm still a Conservative, a real one. Please, President Bush, nominate me!!