Thursday, February 16, 2012

On the Issue of Marriage: A Wash for Santorum?


One of the reasons why social conservatives are choosing Santorum over Paul in this Presidential primary is because of the marriage issue.  But most have failed to look carefully at the records of the two candidates and to take into consideration the Constitutional role of the President. 

Both Ron Paul and Rick Santorum support the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).  DOMA does two things.  It limits the use of the word “marriage” in the United States Code to one man, one woman marriage.  Secondly, it prevents any state, which issues marriage licenses to gay couples, from forcing another state to recognize these licenses as valid.  Evidence of the support of DOMA by both candidates is very clear.  Santorum voted for it.  Ron Paul, though not in congress at the time it was voted on, said that he would have voted for it and he voted for the Marriage Protection Act (MPA)--a bill which would have protected DOMA from being struck down as unconstitutional by the federal courts by stripping the jurisdiction of the federal courts over that issue.

MPA was introduced into the House of Representatives by Congressman John Hostettler (R-IN) in 2003 and passed the House in September of 2004.  With the President (Bush) up for election that year, MPA had a real chance of becoming law.  But after passing the House, MPA was assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee and no further action was taken.  One reason why MPA may never have gotten out of committee was because one of it’s most powerful members was Arlen Specter, a gay marriage supporter.   Rick Santorum  endorsed and campaigned for Specter over a more conservative challenger, Pat Toomey.  But Ron Paul continued to cosponsor the Marriage Protection Act in every subsequent session of Congress, but no Senator, including Rick Santorum, ever introduced a companion bill.


Ron Paul is also the author of the We the People Act, which is even stronger than MPA, making it an impeachable offense for any judge to strike down a state’s laws against gay marriage.  But Santorum has never supported anything like this.

Please take a minute to read Article V of the Constitution:


The usual manner in which Constitutional Amendments are ratified is by passing with a 2/3 majority in both the House and Senate and ratification by ¾ of the state legislatures or conventions.  Another option is a Constitutional Convention, which has never been used except when the Constitution itself was created in the beginning.  But in no situation does the President have any power in the process of the adoption of a Constitutional Amendment. 


Why I am I saying all this?  What does this have to do with comparing Santorum and Paul on marriage?  Santorum voted for the Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA) and Ron Paul voted against it.  Ron Paul sees no need to change the Constitution--the Framers, in his view, put everything in it that was needed in the beginning.  But from a practical standpoint, for this particular election, this does not matter--since it is not at all up to the President whether a Constitutional Amendment, such as FMA, is passed.  Similarly, the possible support of Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich of the FMA is basically a non-issue.  Gingrich actually missed the vote on both DOMA and FMA and Romney has flip-flopped on the issue of marriage.  Another important point is that, in contrast to legislation like DOMA and MPA, the adoption of a Constitutional Amendment is a real long shot.  It’s easy to support something (for political reasons only) that you know will probably not pass.  There is a question also in my mind about whether the FMA would actually even do any good--since the essential components of marriage could placed into legislation and called by a different name (such as civil unions, domestic partnerships, etc).  They are doing this already in Ohio, despite the fact that we passed a state marriage amendment just a few years ago.

And far as endorsements go, Ron Paul did endorse gay marriage supporter John Dennis.  But this is clearly no worse than Santorum’s endorsement of Specter.  At least Dennis was a fiscal conservative, but Specter was not conservative on any issue.

Conclusion

Though not perfect, Ron Paul is actually the best GOP candidate on the issue of marriage from the standpoint of a typical, “one man, one woman only” social conservative.  It is somewhat close, but even on his best issue, Santorum does not win.

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