City Journal, Autumn 2004, with David L. Tubbs.
When President George W. Bush declared his support for a federal constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman, his most vitriolic critics, such as Senator Edward Kennedy, accused him of playing a divisive, mean-spirited political game. The New York Times and Washington Post, supporters of the idea of same-sex marriage, raised a more sophisticated objection to the amendment: it betrays, they claim, the venerable principle of American federalism that respects states’ relative autonomy in setting marriage policy. Interestingly, some prominent conservative opponents of same-sex “marriage,” including California congressman Christopher Cox, were also skeptical about the amendment on federalism grounds. State voters could and would prevent the imposition of same-sex marriage, these critics argued. There was no need to nationalize the issue.
Despite its widespread appeal, the states’ rights solution won’t work. Without a federal marriage amendment, we’re going to wind up with same-sex marriage in all 50 states. And here’s why….