The Freedom to Marry Transcends State Lines
We must establish the freedom to marry nationwide
December 17, 2012
Today America is divided on the issue of marriage, with certain states recognizing the love and commitment between same sex couples while others do not—but we will not be for long. The fundamental freedom that is the birthright of every citizen transcends state lines, and the individual liberty and equal protection enshrined in our Constitution trump even federalism.
Log Cabin Republicans take our name from President Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican president and the man who finally put slavery on "the path to ultimate extinction." Confronted with calls for a state-by-state process to put an end to that foul institution, Lincoln uttered the immortal words, "a house divided cannot stand…It shall become all one thing or all the other." The same principle applies to the freedom to marry.
There are circumstances where leaving decisions to the states is the best course, and where doing so is constitutionally required. America is blessed with 50 states, each of which can serve as a laboratory for policy, and our nation's sheer size and diversity favor local control. Federalism is actually one of the strongest arguments against the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, known as DOMA.
DOMA was designed to squash movement toward marriage equality in the states, and was an unprecedented intrusion by the federal government into regulating marriage. As a result, legally married same sex couples are treated as single by the federal government, including the IRS, the Social Security Administration, immigration services, and the Pentagon. Even DOMA's author, former Republican Rep. Bob Barr now condemns this kind of "one-way federalism."
When DOMA falls, it will still be necessary to establish the freedom to marry nationwide. The good news is that Election Day proved that our nation is progressing down the path to ultimate equality for LGBT people. This journey began more than a hundred years ago, with the passage of the 14th Amendment after the Civil War.
Theodore Olson, a conservative legal champion and former solicitor general to President George W. Bush, will soon make the case before the United States Supreme Court that "our society cannot ever live up to the promise of equality, and the fundamental rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, until we stop invidious discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation."
Log Cabin Republicans agree. The Constitution is clear: "No state shall…deny to any person the equal protection of the laws." Hopefully soon, that constitutional promise will be a reality, and America will be freer, stronger, and more united than ever.