More Tea?

Guess it's a good night for the TEA Party, who staked a lot on beating the Senate's longest-serving Republican... and beat him.  There was a lot of talk about how the Presidential primary showed that the TEA Party movement was short-lived, but the TEA Party is only two years old.  You can't stage a winning Presidential campaign in two years; you have to start almost as soon as the previous one is over, as then-Senator Obama did rather than fulfilling the office to which he had so recently been elected.

Meanwhile North Carolina joins the rest of the South in constitutionally banning gay marriage.  I had to look this up -- Georgia passed its amendment in 2004, before the issue commanded my attention in any serious way.  A quick review of what I wrote here in 2003/4 was that, while the issue didn't really interest me, it was properly decided at the state level by constitutional amendments being a clear example of a power reserved to the states or to the people by the 10th Amendment.  Thus, amendments like tonight's in North Carolina seem like a reasonable way for the people to clarify just how much power they are prepared for the state to wield:  the power to regulate an existing institution, or the power to redefine it?

I have no idea how I voted on the 2004 amendment in Georgia; I don't remember it at all.  It was only later that, studying Aquinas, I came to understand just what was wrong with the structure of matrimony as it exists in America today.  My position against "gay marriage" is a consequence of that more basic argument of the nature of marriage, which we talked about at length here.

In any event, what I find surprising about the NC vote is the lopsided nature of the victory, and the huge turnout.  The foes of the amendment appear to have outspent the supporters two-to-one; the supporters carried the day anyway, 61-39 percent at current count.  That's a big victory for an amendment running into a two-to-one spending headwind.

So:  a big TEA Party victory, and a strong social conservative turnout in the face of a spending spree.  Those are good omens as we look to November.


Texan99 said...

We watched the Lugar primary with great interest, but I didn't even notice the gay-marriage initiatives until you mentioned them. Well, you know I don't object to gay marriage, but I am content to let the states work it out in different ways, the same way they did with the divorce laws once upon a time. My main concern is that people be able to establish households to their own satisfaction, and you can perfectly well do that without the institution of marriage if you're serious about it. I never was that interested, for instance, about the state's opinion of my married status. It's not as though anyone these days will refuse to rent you housing or ask you to social affairs simply because you're not married, and any children that come into a gay couple's household will be unavoidably complicated from a legal standpoint no matter what happens to the marriage laws.

Grim said...

I don't object to gays living happy lives according to whatever fashion they prefer; the percentage of gays in any generation is small enough that they ought to be fairly easy to accommodate. I do, however, have a concern with repairing the damage to the institution of the family, the core of which is matrimony. I'm not really sure how to go about this, though not taking any further steps in the direction of treating it as a fungible contract involving only two parties is a good start. ("First, do no harm.")

That sort of settles my position on gay marriage even though I'm not interested in the question of gays. They can call themselves whatever they want, and I hope they're happy doing it, but I have to oppose this particular innovation. Unless, of course, we can come to terms whereby we trade permitting gay marriage for forbidding divorce, except in cases of proven physical abuse; that might be a worthwhile trade. Even Aquinas would accept trading a lesser privation for a worse one; although perhaps he might view homosexuality as worse than the disruption of the family occasioned by our divorce rate, I can't agree. The damage to the 'principle end' of marriage is far more massive when heterosexual families divorce, if only because -- again -- there are so many more of them; but also because they are usually fertile, while homosexual couples are generally not.

In any case, like you, I wasn't even paying attention to the question until recently. It looks like nobody was until 2003, when suddenly the MA supreme court discovered a constitutional right to gay marriage -- astounding, really, given that the people who wrote that constitution had never suspected its existence, and had in fact made the practice of homosexuality a somewhat serious felony. So we had a big round of state amendments in the South in 2004, including the Georgia one; I'm not sure why NC is only getting to it now.

Anonymous said...

I'm curious to see how the Wisconsin unions will persuade their supporters to vote for someone that the union ads all proclaimed was just as bad as Gov. Walker.


Anonymous said...

Polls (as well as my own informal inquiry) have shown for many years that nobody is interested in getting into a gay couple's private business, that is, nobody approves of discrimination against gay people just because of their nature.

I'm experienced enough to know that all the "rights" of a spouse that we allegedly get automatically are in fact not automatic, and are routinely handled by signing documents: wills, powers of attorney, insurance forms, etc., and that the sex of the person receiving those rights is irrelevant.

Polls have shown majority support in most states -- for years-- for registration of civil unions for gays.

The discomfort comes, not from conferring the rights, but from calling it "marriage," for religious reasons.

The only reason we don't have civil unions for gays in most states is because gays don't just want the rights, they want the word, not just for themselves, but written into the law.

This "issue" is not about civil rights any more, it's about fund-raising.


Elise said...

I'm big for dual Federalism but I simply cannot figure out what happens if a gay couple gets married in a State that allows gay marriage then moves to a State that doesn't. Are they no longer married?

Texan99 said...

Depends on the state. Under the federal Defense of Marriage Act, no state can be required to recognize a same-sex marriage regardless of what other states think about it. A couple married in one state may find that, on crossing a border, they are now dealing with a state that does not acknowledge their marriage for any legal purpose. Or they might find that they have traveled to a state that doesn't do gay marriages within its own borders, but recognizes the gay marriages that took place in other states.

Grim said...

Georgia says it won't allow gay marriages to be performed or recognized (nor will Georgia courts be allowed to hear "divorce" cases). The state also will not permit civil unions at the state level; but cities are not forbidden from enacting their own form of civil unions, as Atlanta has done.

I expect it's much like my 2nd Amendment rights. It's an actual enumerated right, and in Georgia it means that if I obtain the proper permit I can carry a gun or a knife. If I travel to Maryland, I may not.

That said, the tax picture is going to be tricky. However, state taxes play off the Federal tax code. Since Federal law won't recognize gay marriages as "married" for the purpose of being "married filing jointly," I'm guessing that just means that gay couples will continue to have to file separate taxes.

MikeD said...

To clarify, I have no objection to the State of North Carolina amending their Constitution as they see fit. It is their Constitution. If I don't like the Constitution of the State in which I live, I can move.

HOWEVER, I will say I dislike (in principle) the idea of amending any Constitution to limit the rights of the people. The Constitution (be it of a State or the Federal government) ought to be limits on the power of the government, not its citizens. This is the State level, so it bothers me less (generally, the lower level such decisions are made, the better), but still I'd rather the contracts between governments and people worked more to restrict the government than the people. That's just me tho.

Grim said...

You're thinking about this in the wrong way, Mike.

If we redefine marriage to include homosexual lovers, we impose new limits on everyone. This is because we must restructure our payment plans to provide spousal benefits to a whole new class of people. This applies to welfare payments, pensions to retired public employees, and so forth.

It's not limiting their freedom to say that they are not spouses -- it's limiting our responsibilities to them. They can live as they wish; it's already possible to obtain every freedom entailed by marriage via normal contracts.

Society has an interest in supporting traditional marriages, because traditional matrimony is at the core of cross-generational family formation. We provide benefits even out of the public treasury for this, because it is a benefit to all of us -- this is the mechanism by which our civilization endures.

The same is not true of this innovation. They can do what they want; there's no reason we shouldn't want them to be happy. But there is also no reason why we should pay their way.