Some sentences are so contradictory, so self-evidently oxymoronic that they stop you in your tracks. For example, maybe you have a friend who says something like, “I’m a vegetarian, but I really love cheeseburgers.” Hearing this, you’re likely to give your friend a bewildered look and say, “Dude…huh?”
In the wake of the Supreme Court’s June 26 decision that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional, the reported response of some Utah politicians elicited a similar reaction. As reported by The Universe, “Prominent Utah Republicans overwhelmingly applauded the Supreme Court for recognizing same-sex marriage as a states’ rights issue but expressed disappointment that the Supreme Court is not in harmony with the Congressional majority that favors DOMA.”
How can it be simultaneously acknowledged that regulation of marriage is a state issue and bemoaned that a federal law that nationalized the issue was struck down? What can account for such an obvious contradiction? As always, the devil is in the details It is enlightening to understand which Utah Republicans acknowledged this issue as the domain of the states and which didn’t.
Senator Orrin Hatch, who arrived in the Washington D.C. four months before the first Star Wars movie arrived in theaters, predictably defended DOMA. Arguing against the perceived discrimination of DOMA, Hatch stated, “It’s pretty hard to believe that the Supreme Court would say that the 85 Senators, 342 members of the House of Representatives, and Democratic President Bill Clinton…voted for DOMA literally seeking to injure and impose stigma on gay individuals.”
Perhaps not, Senator, but that is really beside the point. The question isn’t whether or not the bill was intended to discriminate, it’s is whether or not DOMA was constitutional in the first place. The fact that 428 federal politicians supported the bill doesn’t really mean much if the Constitution doesn’t give the federal government any authority in this area.
On the other hand, Utah’s Republican governor Gary Herbert welcomed the Court’s decision, stating, “I have long believed that marriage is a states’ rights issue.” In his statement Herbert went on to outline his policy preferences on this issue. Unless you live in Utah, it is unimportant whether you agree with Herbert’s policies or not. What is important is that Utah’s governor understands that this is an issue that is solely within the purview of the states.
As is consistently the case, the state politician in this story has a better grasp of the Constitution than the federal politician. It’s no wonder that people who believe in liberty and the Constitution are increasingly turning their backs on DC and are looking instead to their state representatives.