Friday, June 20, 2008

Toward a Federal Marriage Amendment

With the all-out radical leftist assault on traditional marriage in full force in this country, we're hearing again that what we need, what we must have is a Federal Marriage Amendment to save traditional marriage in America, and everything will be ok. I personally have resisted this approach since the debate was first nationalized on the grounds that amending the U.S. constitution to define marriage would have, good intentions notwithstanding, unintended consequences serving to add yet another twenty miles of pavement to the federal super-highway to hell. And through the clearing that's already taken place ahead, I can see the utter desolation of its final destination from here.

Nonetheless, and given my view of the sacredness of traditional marriage and why it must be protected, not only do I question my own position -- a position which pits me against respected traditional marriage advocates like Dr. Dobson, and Don Wildmon of AFA, and Lawrence Auster, and etc... -- on the FMA from time to time, but at certain times, given the popularity of the federal approach to protecting marriage among the more well known and well respected advocates of traditional marriage in this country, I get the feeling that ultimately the FMA might be the only method that the majority can agree on.

However, via John Savage's latest post in his recent series of entries concerning traditional marriage (see here, here, and here), I'm led to this 4-W entry on the topic and Lydia McGrew's comments concerning the FMA.

Lydia writes:

On purely (and I do mean purely) prudential grounds, I recommend state amendments. I worry about what a federal amendment would be used to do. There is a sense in which writing an amendment to the federal Constitution is like handing the federal courts a blank sheet on which they will write whatever they like. One doesn't mean to do that, but it could come to that. For example, if a federal amendment doesn't prohibit civil unions, some crazy federal court could rule that that means states _must_ have civil unions, or recognize other states' civil unions. And so forth. In my own state, our state Supreme Court tends to be more disciplined as far as sticking to what laws and the state constitution actually mean rather than telling lies about them.

My sense tells me that Lydia's concerns with the Federal Marriage Amendment are perfectly reasonable and legitimate. We all know that the unaccountable federal courts (and the federal Congress does nothing to prohibit it) love to divine the spirit of the federal constitution, and to mold it and shape it in their own image of what it should be. On the other hand, of course, we all know too that the federal courts aren't particularly disinclined from overthrowing State law when State laws have been molded and shaped by State legislatures whose image of the federal constitution doesn't match up to that of the federal judiciary.

All that aside, though, and as I've written before, the federal constitution provides two methods of amendment in Article V. Now, currently we have 27 separate State marriage amendments on the books in this country, and several others in the making. And with the most recent leftist assaults on the institution of marriage and the absolute certainty that the onslaught will continue in more radical ways than we've even seen thus far (this is the nature of liberalism; the less radical it needs to be to effect its purposes, the more radical it gets), I predict that this number of States with marriage amendments attached to their constitutions is going to grow significantly in the relatively near future. Indeed, I'm almost willing to bet that it will grow large enough over the next, say, five years, to meet the requirements laid down in Article V to at least initiate a Federal Convention for proposing amendments, if not see it through to its end.

So here's my question for all the strong advocates of the FMA. If we must have a Federal Marriage Amendment, wouldn't it be better for the States to force Congress to call a Convention on the subject, than for the people to pressure the federal Congress to pass the FMA; isn't this the more (to borrow from Lydia) prudent approach to which our advocacy of a Federal Marriage Amendment, if we must have one, should be directed?