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Bench Memos

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McCain and Marriage



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One reason social conservatives are wary of McCain is his vote several years ago against the Federal Marriage Amendment. That proposal would have made it impossible for states (such as California and Massachusetts) to make anything but the union of man and woman a marriage. McCain’s position owed nothing to ambivalence (or worse) about traditional marriage; in fact, he was a conspicuous advocate of Arizonans’ more recent attempt to amend their state constitution to ban same-sex “marriages.” McCain’s opposition to the FMA owed instead to his conviction — which I think is sound up to a limited point — that states’, and not the nation, should be in charge of the law of marriage.

McCain’s “federalism” view could someday soon become the reason why he reverses course on the FMA. For McCain has long said — and said so again yesterday, in Philadelphia — that if any state is made to accept out-of-state “gay marriages,” then he is all for an FMA. He said yesterday: “[I]f some federal judge rules that all the states must recognize the [gay] marriages in Massachusetts, I would be in favor of pursuing a Constitutional amendment.” When California recognizes same-sex “marriages” next Tuesday — and with state authorities saying they will not limit it to California residents — the likelihood of SSM’s involuntary transmission to another state will increase exponentially.



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