Last week, a federal judge struck down part of the Defense Of Marriage Act. That law, signed by President Clinton, specifically forbade federal recognition and sanction of gay marriage, and declared that same-sex marriages were not covered by the Full Faith And Credit clause of the Constitution and therefore states that did not allow gay marriage did not have to honor same-sex marriages performed in a state that did allow them.
This ruling not only did not surprise me, but it gives me great, great hope — in areas outside of gay marriage.
In his ruling, the judge specifically cited the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and said that marriage falls strictly under the purview of the states, not the federal government, and the federal government had overstepped its bounds in passing the law.
Personally, I’ve long been a supporter of same-sex marriage. However, I’ve always conditioned that support on it being implemented in the correct fashion — by the will of the people, expressed either through referendum or their elected representatives. I have been quite displeased by the cases in Massachusetts and California, where it was done by judges’ fiats — and in direct contravention with the expressed wishes of the majority.
Likewise, I’ve never cared for the Defense of Marriage Act. I thought it was against the Constitution on several grounds.
But I was exceptionally happy when the judge issued his ruling paving the way for expanded gay marriage — because that quite liberal judge opened a door that he (and a lot of others) will likely wish had remained closed.
In his ruling, Judge Joseph Tauro specifically cited the 10th Amendment, one of my favorites. It reads in its entirety:
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
Now, I know my stance on gay marriage isn’t one of my most popular positions here. But look beyond the actual subject of the ruling, and see the bigger picture.
It is now the law of the land that the federal government has limited authority to dictate who can marry whom. That is derived by looking at the powers given to the federal government by the Constitution (which includes all the Amendments), and specifically says that the States can decide what other powers the federal government can or can not have.
In other words, while the federal government holds supremacy on matters where the Constitution gives it final say, in all other matters the States can dictate what the federal government can and can not do.
Such as, say, whether the federal government can force everyone to prove that they have health insurance that the feds consider “sufficient.”
Or, say, whether or not one can possess firearms.
Or, if you like, whether or not one can indulge in certain forms of recreational pharmacy.
This could be the antidote to the increasingly and insanely abused “commerce clause,” where the federal government decides that it can intervene on any matter if they can find some remote way that it might “affect interstate commerce.” That sucker’s been stretched well beyond the breaking point for ages. One example has been people who grow just a bit of marijuana purely for their own use — they MIGHT decide to sell it instead, and it MIGHT end up crossing a state line somewhere, so therefore it’s a federal matter.
So while all the liberals who champion gay marriage at any price, by any means, celebrate, I’m raising a glass myself. Because in their zeal, they’ve unleashed a weapon that could very well destroy so many of their over-ambitious, overreaching, unconstitutional dreams.
“Power To The People,” indeed.