Tuesday, February 24, 2004

The Fugitive Marriage Amendment

Via Nick of Tapped, a post from Publius of Legal Fiction:

I think the GOP is grossly "mis-underestimating" the opposition that the amendment will generate once people realize that it does more than "protect" the right of states to define marriage - it actually will intrude into their lives by banning all gay marriage and possibly all civil unions as well (see here for details). There's a precedent for the backlash-to-come - slavery (and I'm not equating support for slavery with opposition to gay marriages - I'm just noting the backlash phenomenon). Before the Civil War, many northerners were largely indifferent to slavery as long as it didn't effect them or their lives. It was a regional phenomenon, far removed from them. But the South insisted on enacting the infamous Fugitive Slave Act, which required northerners to assist the authorities in returning people to slavery. When slavery began actually affecting their lives in tangible ways, things changed dramatically. . . .
Something similar will happen if Bush pushes hard for the FMA - especially if it means that couples will start having to relinquish benefits or even children (either through adoption bans or through the legal default that children of deceased parents go to family members other than the partner - that would be a great legal battle - a partner battling homophobic grandparents for custody of a child). People don't mind if Alabama bans civil unions. But people will mind when the federal government reaches into their lives and forbids them from enacting civil unions through their legislature.

One can only hope that this is true.