When President Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) into law, it set into motion what is now a large issue dividing the country. At their convention, the Republicans adopted a platform calling for a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a male and female, which will only add fuel to the already blazing fire.
The biggest problem in this debate is the lack of ability for either side to see things from the other’s point of view. From many on the left, it is viewed as intolerable bigotry; but at the same time they can’t empathize with the religious magnitude it carries to those on the other side. To the religious, gay marriage is an invasion on the sanctity of something they hold dear; it would be analogous, for some, to the courts saying it’s unconstitutional for non-baptized people to be denied Holy Communion.
Marriage is, historically, a religious entity. A major cause of the problem is that our government groups together a religious occasion and a legal proceeding, giving rise to two irreconcilable sides to the issue. How do you argue constitutionality to a person who sees the issue as only a religious one? How do you argue sanctity of religion to someone who isn’t religious? Although the courts that lifted gay marriage bans greatly neglected the inherent problem in this issue, the Republican response violates the very essence of what the party stands for.
One of the core principles of the Republican Party is decentralized government, allowing people at the local and state levels to make more decisions because they have a better feel for what is right for their area. Amending the constitution to mirror DOMA, and forcing the entire nation to abide by the order of the federal government is about as far away from the GOP principles as you can get- and this Republican is not in support of it.
What the Republican Party should be advocating is letting each state decide for itself whether or not it wants to allow gay marriages. The proper constitutional amendment going along with that would be waiving the full faith clause for gay marriage which would allow some states to deny it, and not be forced to recognize gay marriages from other states-all the while giving those states who so choose, the right to grant gay marriage licenses.
Don Donelson can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.