Remember Bob Barr, the U.S. Georgia Representative that somehow became the Libertarian Party’s nominee despite the fact that at one time he was a wacky southern peach conservative who fought against abortion, for the war on drugs and is the author of the Defense of Marriage Act?
Well, it turns out his conversion to libertarianism wasn’t just an election year stunt, as his op-ed in the L.A. Times today states:
“In 2006, when then-Sen. Obama voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment, he said, “Decisions about marriage should be left to the states.” He was right then; and as I have come to realize, he is right now in concluding that DOMA has to go. If one truly believes in federalism and the primacy of state government over the federal, DOMA is simply incompatible with those notions.”
Barr is careful to point out that it’s not out of any desire for equality that motivates his reversal of opinion, but rather his commitment to states rights:
“In effect, DOMA’s language reflects one-way federalism: It protects only those states that don’t want to accept a same-sex marriage granted by another state. Moreover, the heterosexual definition of marriage for purposes of federal laws — including, immigration, Social Security survivor rights and veteran’s benefits — has become a de facto club used to limit, if not thwart, the ability of a state to choose to recognize same-sex unions.
Even more so now than in 1996, I believe we need to reduce federal power over the lives of the citizenry and over the prerogatives of the states. It truly is time to get the federal government out of the marriage business. In law and policy, such decisions should be left to the people themselves.”
Now, this argument is a bit of a double-edged sword, depending on what you mean by “such decisions should be left to the people themselves”, since we’ve seen that when it comes to a straight up vote, marriage equality loses at the ballot box. However, if Barr means “the people” to be individual state government’s– legislative, executive and judicial branches working in concert — this is an argument I can get behind.
The fact is, the most obvious solution to the “gay marriage problem” is to get rid of marriage entirely, so far as the state is concerned. If churches want to define the nature of marriage to their parishioners, that’s their Constitutional right. It’s when they extend that definition to the rest of us that it becomes an infringement on others rights.
Unfortunately, the only reason I can think of that Bob Barr would right an op-ed in The Los Angeles Times at this time saying that same-sex marriage should be left up to the will of the people is not actually a desire to see DOMA go, but rather, to give the Yes on 8 crowd a little cover in their own “leave it to the people (read: let the majority decide on the rights of a minority) to decide gay marriage” argument.
Before branding us with the cynical iron, remember– this is the guy who wrote DOMA. Skepticism is warranted.