Contrary to what Walter M. Weber wrote in “No Excuses” (June 2), the Federal Marriage Amendment would prohibit state legislatures from recognizing same-sex marriages.—Ed.
Walter Weber replies: I’d call it more of a clarification: I wrote that under the FMA, “If a legislature wants to legalize homosexual ‘marriage,’ it can do so.” The FMA would bar a state legislature from enacting homosexual marriage under the name “marriage.” At a minimum, the state would have to use a different name (like “civil union”). And if the FMA means that the substance of marriage (not just the name) is reserved to one man and one woman, a state legislature would also have to limit the benefits/responsibilities of a “marriage lite” so as not to come “too close” to real marriage. How close is “too close” would be up to the courts to decide. See, e.g., Knight v. Superior Court, 128 Cal. App. 4th 14, 26 Cal. Rptr. 3d 687 (2005) (ruling that California law giving domestic partners the ‘same’ rights and responsibilities as spouses was consistent with a state initiative reserving marriage to ‘a man and a woman’). The bottom line is that, under the FMA, state and federal courts could not force homosexual marriage on the states, but that legislatures could go as far as the courts would let them.