In Defense of Marriage

This post joins some old and new observations about same-sex “marriage.” I not only repudiate the travesty of homosexual “marriage” but also those so-called libertarians who would (unwittingly) harm the cause of liberty by their insistence on a “right” to same-sex “marriage.” In the end, I remind the reader that there is more to liberty than the mindless parroting of phrases like “fairness,” “justice,” and “equal protection of the laws.”

SAME-SEX “MARRIAGE” AS A LITMUS TEST

It is my firm impression that most self-described libertarians — and “liberals,” it should go without saying — view same-sex “marriage” as a right. “Libertarian” bloggers X and Y are typical of the breed.[1]

Blogger X, a professed homosexual, states flatly that “I’m being discriminated against, and I want it to stop.”

Blogger Y, a known heterosexual, takes a complementary tack. For example, he calls Ron Paul’s support of the Defense of Marriage Act[2] (DOMA) “state-sponsored bigotry.” Actually, Paul was criticizing the Obama administration for failing to support DOMA because the act

used Congress’ constitutional authority to define what other states have to recognize under the Full Faith and Credit Clause, to ensure that no state would be forced to recognize a same sex marriage license issued in another state.

Paul adds:

I will stand … against Unconstitutional federal power grabs, and will fight to protect each state’s right not to be forced to recognize a same sex marriage against the will of its people.

Y seems to view Paul’s defense of States’ rights as wrong — in this instance, at least — because the definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman denies marriage to homosexual couples. Further, that denial seems — in Y‘s view — to arise from bigotry. Perhaps it does, in Paul’s case, but I am here to defend marriage, not a crotchety Texan (see this, this, and this, for example).

SAME-SEX “MARRIAGE” IS A PSEUDO-LIBERTARIAN CAUSE

Blogger Y‘s position is a manifestation of the kind of rationalistic, political correctness that is common among left (psuedo)-libertarians. Will Wilkinson, for example, suggests that

most PC episodes mocked and derided by the right are not state impositions. They are generally episodes of the voluntary social enforcement of relatively newly established moral/cultural norms.

Wilkinson grossly simplifies the complex dynamics of PCness. His so-called “newly established … norms” are, in fact, norms that have been embraced by insular élites (e.g., academics and think-tank denizens like Wilksinson) and then foisted upon “the masses” by the élites in charge of government and government-controlled institutions (e.g., tax-funded universities). Thus it is no surprise that proposals to allow same-sex “marriage” fare poorly when they are submitted to voters.

Pseudo-libertarianism of the kind evidenced by Wilkinson is no better than any other kind of rationalism. It simply posits a sterile, abstract standard of conduct — one that has nothing to do with the workaday world of humanity — and finds wanting everyone but those who pay lip-service to that standard of conduct.

That is not libertarianism. It is sophomoric dream-spinning.

Where is libertarianism to be found? In conservatism, of all places, because it is a reality-based political philosophy.

But what does conservatism have to do with libertarianism? I have in various posts essayed an answer to that question (here, here, here, and here, for example), but now I turn the floor over to John Kekes, who toward the end of “What Is Conservatism?” says this:

The traditionalism of conservatives excludes both the view that political arrangements that foster individual autonomy should take precedence over those that foster social authority and the reverse view that favours arrangements that promote social authority at the expense of individual autonomy. Traditionalists acknowledge the importance of both autonomy and authority, but they regard them as inseparable, interdependent, and equally necessary. The legitimate claims of both may be satisfied by the participation of individuals in the various traditions of their society. Good political arrangements protect these traditions and the freedom to participate in them by limiting the government’s authority to interfere with either.

Therein lies true libertarianism — true because it is attainable. Left-libertarians believe, foolishly, that liberty is to be found in the rejection of social norms. Liberty would be the first victim of the brave new disorder that they wish for.

If there is a truly libertarian case for same-sex “marriage,” it can be made only by invoking the possibility of voluntary social acceptance of same-sex couples who bond in a manner analogous to the bonding of heterosexual couples. But analogy is not identity, just as reliance on the edicts of the state is not a proper libertarian approach to social change.

OPPOSITION TO SAME-SEX MARRIAGE IS NOT INHERENTLY BIGOTED

Many (if not most) persons who oppose same-sex “marriage” are animated not by an animus toward homosexuals but by respect for the time-honored status of marriage — in the Western tradition — as a monogamous, heterosexual union. Is it bigotry to defend a traditional institution from redefinition at the hands of the state? I think not. The state’s proper role is to protect citizens and their voluntary institutions, not to undermine or usurp those institutions. Therefore, if the state is going to involve itself in voluntary institutions, it ought to do so only for the purpose of ensuring that those institutions are not reshaped involuntarily.

The only bigotry that I see is the bigotry of individuals like X and Y, who denigrate those who would preserve the traditional character of marriage. I remind X, Y, and others who cry “discrimination” and “bigotry” that marriage — in its Judeo-Christian roots — is a social institution that was established for the purpose of solemnizing and legitimating the union of man and woman — not for the purpose of causing harm to anyone.

As for the opponents of same-sex “marriage,” I do not believe that a general charge of bigotry on their part can stand scrutiny. I have no doubt that some defenders of traditional marriage defend it solely or mainly because they despise homosexuals, their “differentness,” and their sexual practices. But such exceptions do not change the fact that marriage is not an institution founded on bigotry.

TRADITIONAL MARRIAGE IS A LIBERTARIAN INSTITUTION

Moreover, there is a compelling, libertarian reason to preserve the time-honored status of marriage as the union of man and woman. It is an institution whose preservation is vital to civil society, upon which liberty depends:

[I]t is impossible and — more importantly — undesirable for government to police everyone’s behavior. Liberty depends, therefore, on the institutions of society — family, church, club, and the like — through which individuals learn to treat one another with respect, through which individuals often come to the aid of one another, and through which instances of disrespect can be noted, publicized, and even punished (e.g., by criticism and ostracism).

That is civil society. And it is civil society which — in the minarchistic view — government ought to protect instead of usurping and destroying as it establishes its own agencies (e.g., public schools, welfare), gives them primary and even sole jurisdiction in many matters, and funds them with tax money that could have gone to private institutions. Moreover, some minarchists aver that government ought to tolerate a broad range of accepted behaviors across the various institutions of civil society, as long as government also protects the negative rights of association and exit: the right to associate with persons of one’s choosing, and the right to live and work where one prefers.

Marriage — despite its imperfections and the state’s involvement (e.g., licensing, separation proceedings, divorce decrees) — remains a bulwark of civil society, or of the remnants of civil society that have survived usurpation and negation by the state. Therefore, the proponents of state-imposed same-sex “marriage” bear the burden of proving that the expansion of marriage to include homosexual partnerships will redound to the benefit of civil society. Saying that opposition to same-sex marriage amounts to bigotry is no kind of proof.

This leads me to ask  whether (1) state-imposed homosexual “marriage” would be deleterious to civil society in the long run, and (2) if marriage loses its traditional definition, any institution of civil society is immune from the depradations of the state.

On the question of the long-run effects of state-imposed homosexual “marriage,” I turn to Jennifer Roback Morse:

Marriage is a naturally occurring, pre-political institution that emerges spontaneously from society. Western society is drifting toward a redefinition of marriage as a bundle of legally defined benefits bestowed by the state. As a libertarian, I find this trend regrettable. The organic view of marriage is more consistent with the libertarian vision of a society of free and responsible individuals, governed by a constitutionally limited state…..

My central argument is that a society will be able to govern itself with a smaller, less intrusive government if that society supports organic marriage rather than the legalistic understanding of marriage….

The new idea about marriage claims that no structure should be privileged over any other. The supposedly libertarian subtext of this idea is that people should be as free as possible to make their personal choices. But the very nonlibertarian consequence of this new idea is that it creates a culture that obliterates the informal methods of enforcement. Parents can’’t raise their eyebrows and expect children to conform to the socially accepted norms of behavior, because there are no socially accepted norms of behavior. Raised eyebrows and dirty looks no longer operate as sanctions on behavior slightly or even grossly outside the norm. The modern culture of sexual and parental tolerance ruthlessly enforces a code of silence, banishing anything remotely critical of personal choice. A parent, or even a peer, who tries to tell a young person that he or she is about to do something incredibly stupid runs into the brick wall of the non-judgmental social norm….

No libertarian would claim that the presumption of economic laissez-faire means that the government can ignore people who violate the norms of property rights, contracts, and fair exchange. Apart from the occasional anarcho-capitalist, all libertarians agree that enforcing these rules is one of the most basic functions of government. With these standards for economic behavior in place, individuals can create wealth and pursue their own interests with little or no additional assistance from the state. Likewise, formal and informal standards and sanctions create the context in which couples can create marriage with minimal assistance from the state….

Some libertarians seem to believe that marriage is a special case of free association of individuals. I say the details of this particular form of free association are so distinctive as to make marriage a unique social institution that deserves to be defended on its own terms and not as a special case of something else.

One side in this dispute is mistaken. There is enormous room for debate, but there ultimately is no room for compromise…. We will be happier if we try to discover the truth and accommodate ourselves to it, rather than try to recreate the world according to our wishes….

Being free does not demand that everyone act impulsively rather than deliberately. Libertarian freedom is the modest demand to be left alone by the coercive apparatus of the government. Economic liberty, and libertarian freedom more broadly, is certainly consistent with living with a great many informal social and cultural constraints….

We now live in an intellectual, social, and legal environment in which the laissez-faire idea has been mechanically applied to sexual conduct and married life. But Rousseau-style state-of-nature couplings are inconsistent with a libertarian society of minimal government. In real, actually occurring societies, noncommittal sexual activity results in mothers and children who require massive expenditures and interventions by a powerful government….

When … Friedrich Hayek championed the concept of spontaneous order, he helped people see that explicitly planned orders do not exhaust the types of social orders that emerge from purposeful human behavior. The opposite of a centrally planned economy is not completely unplanned chaos, but rather a spontaneous order that emerges from thousands of private plans interacting with each according to a set of reasonably transparent legal rules and social norms.

Likewise, the opposite of government controlling every detail of every single family’’s life is not a world in which everyone acts according to emotional impulses. The opposite is an order made up of thousands of people controlling themselves for the greater good of the little society of their family and the wider society at large….

Libertarians recognize that a free market needs a culture of law-abidingness, promise-keeping, and respect for contracts. Similarly, a free society needs a culture that supports and sustains marriage as the normative institution for the begetting, bearing, and rearing of children. A culture full of people who violate their contracts at every possible opportunity cannot be held together by legal institutions, as the experience of post-communist Russia plainly shows. Likewise, a society full of people who treat sex as a purely recreational activity, a child as a consumer good and marriage as a glorified roommate relationship will not be able to resist the pressures for a vast social assistance state. The state will irresistibly be drawn into parental quarrels and into providing a variety of services for the well-being of the children….

The libertarian preference for nongovernmental provision of care for dependents is based upon the realization that people take better care of those they know and love than of complete strangers. It is no secret that people take better care of their own stuff than of other people’s. Economists conclude that private property will produce better results than collectivization schemes. But a libertarian preference for stable married-couple families is built upon more than a simple analogy with private property. The ordinary rhythm of the family creates a cycle of dependence and independence that any sensible social order ought to harness rather than resist.

We are all born as helpless infants, in need of constant care. But we are not born alone. If we are lucky enough to be born into a family that includes an adult married couple, they sustain us through our years of dependence. They do not get paid for the work they do: They do it because they love us. Their love for us keeps them motivated to carry on even when we are undeserving, ungrateful, snot-nosed brats. Their love for each other keeps them working together as a team with whatever division of labor works for them.

As we become old enough to be independent, we become attracted to other people. Our bodies practically scream at us to reproduce and do for our children what our parents did for us. In the meantime, our parents are growing older. When we are at the peak of our strength, stamina, and earning power, we make provision to help those who helped us in our youth.

But for this minimal government approach to work, there has to be a family in the first place. The family must sustain itself over the course of the life cycle of its members. If too many members spin off into complete isolation, if too many members are unwilling to cooperate with others, the family will not be able to support itself. A woman trying to raise children without their father is unlikely to contribute much to the care of her parents. In fact, unmarried parents are more likely to need help from their parents than to provide it….

Marriage is the socially preferred institution for sexual activity and childrearing in every known human society. The modern claim that there need not be and should not be any social or legal preference among sexual or childrearing contexts is, by definition, the abolition of marriage as an institution. This will be a disaster for the cause of limited government. Disputes that could be settled by custom will have to be settled in court. Support that could be provided by a stable family must be provided by taxpayers. Standards of good conduct that could be enforced informally must be enforced by law….

The advocates of the deconstruction of marriage into a series of temporary couplings with unspecified numbers and genders of people have used the language of choice and individual rights to advance their cause. This rhetoric has a powerful hold over the American mind. It is doubtful that the deconstruction of the family could have proceeded as far as it has without the use of this language of personal freedom.

But this rhetoric is deceptive. It is simply not possible to have a minimum government in a society with no social or legal norms about family structure, sexual behavior, and childrearing. The state will have to provide support for people with loose or nonexistent ties to their families. The state will have to sanction truly destructive behavior, as always. But destructive behavior will be more common because the culture of impartiality destroys the informal system of enforcing social norms.

It is high time libertarians object when their rhetoric is hijacked by the advocates of big government. Fairness and freedom do not demand sexual and parental license. Minimum-government libertarianism needs a robust set of social institutions. If marriage isn’t a necessary social institution, then nothing is. And if there are no necessary social institutions, then the individual truly will be left to face the state alone. A free society needs marriage. (“Marriage and the limits of contract: A libertarian case,” Policy Review, No. 130)

It is clear that a free society needs traditional, heterosexual marriage, which — as Morse explains — is a primary civilizing force. As if in answer to that truth, the proponents of same-sex “marriage” aver that its recognition by the state will not undermine the societal benefits of traditional marriage. They aver, rather, that it will extend those benefits to encompass those homosexuals who choose “marriage,” and their biological or adopted children.

SAME-SEX “MARRIAGE” IS A BLOW TO LIBERTY

Is there really a “win-win” argument for same-sex “marriage”? The answer, in a word,  is “no.”  The recognition of homosexual “marriage” by the state — though innocuous to many, and an article of faith among most libertarians and liberals — is another step down the slippery slope of societal disintegration. The disintegration began in earnest in the 1930s, when Americans began to place their trust in chimerical, one-size-fits-all “solutions” offered by power-hungry, economically illiterate politicians and their “intellectual” enablers and apologists. In this instance, the state will recognize homosexual “marriage,” then bestow equal  benefits on homosexual “partners,”  and then require private entities (businesses, churches, etc.) to grant equal benefits to homosexual “partnerships.” Individuals and businesses who demur will be brought to heel through the use of affirmative action and hate-crime legislation to penalize those who dare to speak against homosexual “marriage,” the privileges that flow from it, and the economic damage wrought by those privileges.

It should be evident to anyone who has watched American politics that even-handedness is not a matter of observing constitutional limits on government’s reach, regardless of who asks for an exception; it is, rather, a matter of expanding the privileges bestowed by government so that no one is excluded. It follows that the recognition and punitive enforcement of same-sex “marriage” would be followed by the recognition and bestowal of benefits on other arrangements, including transient “partnerships” of convenience. And that surely will weaken heterosexual marriage, which is the axis around which the family revolves. The state will be saying, in effect, “Anything goes. Do your thing. The courts, the welfare system, and the taxpayer — above all — will pick up the pieces.” And so it will go.

Almost six years ago, I constructed following parable (here), which builds on a post by Maggie Gallagher (part of a series at The Volokh Conspiracy on the subject of same-sex marriage):

Imagine a society that depends on the camel (the family, in this analogy) for transportation across a dangerous desert and into an oasis of civility. A camel that is operated by a man and a woman — joined contractually to do their best to steer the camel from danger — is most likely to arrive at its destination safely because the man and woman have complementary skills, and because they (and their offspring, to break the analogy for a moment) are bonded in an irreplicable biological symbiosis. A camel that is operated by either a man or a woman alone is next most likely to arrive at its destination safely because a sole operator, knowing that he or she lacks certain skills, is at least likely to try to compensate for that lack. A camel that is operated by two persons of the same sex is least likely to arrive at its destination safely because: (1) the operators’ bonding can never be as complete as that of a man-woman team and (2) the operators deliberately choose to omit half the skills required for the job.

Those differences might have only a marginal effect on the overall success of camel-driving operations if the state were not involved in licensing and supporting camel drivers. But the state is involved in licensing and supporting camel drivers, and it has done poorly by the camel in the process. The state began many years ago to encourage solo camel driving by enabling man-woman teams to break their contracts at will instead of trying to work out their differences. (The lesson: When the state sends signals about private arrangements, private arrangements tend to align themselves with the signals being sent by the state.) The state later began to encourage yet more solo camel driving by subsidizing women for driving solo (for raising children out of wedlock, that is) and fostering the dereliction of camel-driving duty in the name of “equality” (as if camel driving were a lesser occupation than, say, camel trading). Now the state is beginning to encourage the formation of man-man and woman-woman camel-driving teams. Given the state’s record in such matters, the predictable outcomes of that development are these:

  • An increasing proportion of camels will be driven by same-sex teams, thus decreasing the likelihood that camels will arrive safely at the oasis of civility.
  • A decreasing proportion of men and women will feel the need to form opposite-sex camel-driving teams, as they see that the state (having usurped society’s role in legitimating and supporting camel driving teams) values such teams less and less, thus even further decreasing the likelihood that camels will arrive safely at the oasis of civility.

Given the signals being sent by the state, the rate of formation of traditional, heterosexual marriages will continue to decline. (According to the Census Bureau, the percentage of adult males who are married dropped steadily from 71.1 percent in the 1960 census to 58.6 percent in the 2000 census; for females, the percentage dropped from 67.4 to 54.6. (The latest available figures, for 2009, show no significant change since 2000.) About half of each drop is explained by a rise in the percentage of adults who never marry, the other half by a rise in the percentage of divorced adults. Those statistics are what one should expect when the state signals — as it began to do increasingly after 1960 — that traditional marriage is no special thing by making it easier for couples to divorce, by subsidizing single mothers, and by encouraging women to work outside the home.

The well-known effects of such policies include higher rates of crime and lower levels of educational and economic achievement. (See this and this, for example.) Same-sex marriage would multiply these effects for the sake of mollifying a small minority of the populace.

“EQUAL PROTECTION OF THE LAWS” DOES NOT DICTATE SAME-SEX “MARRIAGE”

When all else fails, special-pleaders claim that to deprive a particular class of persons of a particular right is to deprive them of the “equal protection of the laws,” as guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment. The current, perverted interpretation of Equal Protection — as applied by the proponents of same-sex “marriage” — leads to this:  Despite the fact that marriage is good for society and should not be undermined, Equal Protection (in the perverse view) requires that marriage be undermined by redefining it. The law, in other words, cannot discriminate among individuals if there are objections by (or on the part of) those who are discriminated against. The reasonableness of the discrimination is of no account. Thus, in the not-so-far-fetched-extreme, criminals may not be discriminated against by putting them into prisons, but must enjoy the same amenities as law-abiding citizens.

Consider the infamous Proposition 8 case, Perry v. Schwarzenegger, which was decided last year by U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker (who has since retired and admitted his special interest in the case, as a homosexual in a “committed” relationship). Judge Walker addresses equal protection thusly:

The Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment provides that no state shall “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”…

Proposition 8 targets gays and lesbians in a manner specific to their sexual orientation and, because of their relationship to one another, Proposition 8 targets them specifically due to sex. Having considered the evidence, the relationship between sex and sexual orientation and the fact that Proposition 8 eliminates a right only a gay man or a lesbian would exercise, the court determines that plaintiffs’ equal protection claim is based on sexual orientation, but this claim is equivalent to a claim of discrimination based on sex.

The circularity of Judge Walker’s reasoning with respect to equal protection begins much earlier in his decision, where he writes that

The right to marry has been historically and remains the right to choose a spouse and, with mutual consent, join together and form a household. Race and gender restrictions shaped marriage during eras of race and gender inequality, but such restrictions were never part of the historical core of the institution of marriage. Today, gender is not relevant to the state in determining spouses’ obligations to each other and to their dependents. Relative gender composition aside, same-sex couples are situated identically to opposite-sex couples in terms of their ability to perform the rights and obligations of marriage under California law. Gender no longer forms an essential part of marriage; marriage under law is a union of equals.

But the right to marry, historically, has been the right to choose a spouse of the opposite sex, not merely to choose a spouse. Judge Walker even acknowledges that fact, inadvertently, when he puts aside “relative gender composition,” as if it were a mere trifle and not central to a social tradition that dates back millennia and should not be swept aside casually by a judge because he finds it “irrational,” on the basis of spurious social science. Walker then says that “gender is not relevant,” thus circularly assuming that which is to be proved. As if in support of that assertion he asserts, laughably, that “gender restrictions … were never part of the historical core of the institution of marriage.”

In sum, Judge Walker approaches the constitutional matter of equal protection by assuming that gays have the right to marry. Given that assumption, it is easy to assert that Proposition 8 amounts to a denial of equal protection for gays who seek to marry.

THE STATE SHOULD PROTECT MARRIAGE, NOT DESTROY IT

Although it is true that heterosexual unions have their problems, those problems have been made worse by the intercession of the state. And if the state legitimates same-sex “marriage” civil society will suffer a devastating injury.

Near-sighted, special-pleading proponents of same-sex “marriage,” even if faced with its anti-libertarian ramifications, will say that it is only “fair” to legalize it, and discriminatory or bigoted to deny it. These are the proper response to such playground taunts:

  • Marriage was neither created nor sustained for negative reasons. The preservation of a time-honored, beneficial, voluntary, social institution is no more discriminatory or bigoted than the preservation of, say, an honorary society that is open only to persons who excel in particular ways.
  • The legalization of homosexual “marriage” is unfair to the vast majority of Americans whose well-being depends on the proper functioning of traditional marriage, which is a bulwark of civil society.

Therefore, given that the state is deeply and irretrievably involved in marriage, I reject the unrealistic libertarian nostrum that the state ought not to have anything to do with marriage. The reality of the state’s continuing involvement with marriage leads me to embrace the consequentialist position that the state ought to preserve it by refusing to change its time-honored character as the union of one man and one woman.

The alternative is to advance further down the slippery slope toward societal disintegration and into the morass of ills which accompany that disintegration. (We have seen enough societal disintegration and costly consequences since the advent of the welfare state to know that the two go hand in hand.)

Faced with a choice between libertarian shibboleth and libertarian substance, I have chosen substance. I now say: Ban homosexual marriage and avoid another step down the slippery slope toward incivility and bigger government.

Related posts:
I Missed This One
A Century of Progress?
The Marriage Contract
Feminist Balderdash
Libertarianism, Marriage, and the True Meaning of Family Values
Consider the Children
Marriage and Children
Same-Sex Marriage
“Equal Protection” and Homosexual Marriage
Parenting, Religion, Culture, and Liberty
“Family Values,” Liberty, and the State
On Liberty
Civil Society and Homosexual “Marriage”
Perry v. Schwarzenegger, Due Process, and Equal Protection
Rationalism, Social Norms, and Same-Sex “Marriage”
Pseudo-Libertarian Sophistry vs. True Libertarianism
Libertarian Conservative or Conservative Libertarian?
Liberty, Equality, Fraternity: Part I
Bounded Liberty: A Thought Experiment
More Pseudo-Libertarianism
The Meaning of Liberty
Positive Liberty vs. Liberty

__________
1. I enclose “libertarians” in quotation marks because many (most?) self-described libertarians espouse policies that are, in fact, anti-libertarian. The legalization of same-sex “marriage” is one such policy, as I explain in this post; abortion is another salient one; others include a weak national defense, borders that are open to prospective supporters and beneficiaries of the welfare state, reflexive softness toward criminals, and a willingness to sacrifice the property rights of others to prove their own bona fides in matters of race. For more, see these posts:
On Liberty
Line-Drawing and Liberty
Pseudo-Libertarian Sophistry vs. True Libertarianism

Libertarian Conservative or Conservative Libertarian?
Liberty, Equality, Fraternity: Part I
Bounded Liberty: A Thought Experiment
More Pseudo-Libertarianism
More about Conservative Governance
The Meaning of Liberty
Positive Liberty vs. Liberty
On Self-Ownership and Desert

2. DOMA, as explained here, seems to have two legal effects:

DOMA Section 2 … relieves states of a constitutional obligation to enforce judicial custody, alimony or other orders made in other states that involve recognition of same-sex marriages…. It is unclear … whether states already had the power to refuse recognition in these cases before the enactment of DOMA, and whether the U.S. Constitution allows Congress to modify such state authority.

DOMA’s Section 3 prevents the federal government from recognizing the validity of same-sex marriages….

Later:

Section 2 of DOMA explicitly addresses the constitutional requirement expressed in the Full Faith and Credit Clause in Article IV Section 1 of the United States Constitution, quoting its language directly. That clause establishes that the states have certain reciprocal obligations to one another, specifically to recognize each other’s “public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings.” That same section of the Constitution gives Congress the authority to legislate on the question of those obligations. Section 2 of DOMA excludes same-sex marriages from the state “acts” that any other state needs to recognize.

[Regarding] Section 3 of DOMA…. On February 23, 2011, Attorney General Eric Holder and President Obama announced their conclusion that “a more heightened standard of scrutiny” is necessary for sexuality-based classifications and consequently… DOMA Section 3 is unconstitutional.

In other words, a constitutional act — which legitimately allows the citizens of the various States to define marriage for themselves — is cast aside precisely because the citizens of some States might reject same-sex “marriage.” Obama and Holder, in other words, have taken it upon themselves to grant same-sex “marriage” the same status as traditional marriage. Their “reasoning,” I suspect, flows from the circular application of the “equal protection” clause of the Fourteenth Amendment that I discuss here.

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