Comments about ‘Drew Clark: On marriage dispute, the choice for federalism has gone from compromise to opposition viewpoint’

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Published: Sunday, June 22 2014 12:00 a.m. MDT

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Salt Lake City, UT

"State-by-state disputes will be messy. But conflicts about fundamental values are best reconciled through politics, and through the mediating institution of federalism."

To make this assertion stick Mr Clark must demonstrate that the states are more enlightened than they were during the Jim Crow era (without Federal intervention Jim Crow would be alive and well).

I don't think the writer can make the case. For example, regardless of how one feels about Obamacare, he must be dismayed by the southern states' refusal to participate, being perfectly willing to see large portions of their populations do without local hospitals. Federalism at its worst.

Seattle, WA

"This social, moral and political dilemma appears to be a classic lose-lose scenario."


When gay people can legally marry, their families are strengthened and protected. Their children are better off. Society is better off.

Straight families are not changed or diminished. Children born to married men and women continue to receive the same legal rights and protections they currently enjoy.

Sounds like a win-win. Who loses?

Cleveland , OH

Perhaps marriage laws could be changed to a reciprocity system, like that used for professional licenses.

Each state would have its own marriage laws, and the marriage would only be recognized within that state. Some states might enter into reciprocity agreements, where they mutually recognize marriages, but it would not be required. A couple married in one state and moving to - or even traveling through - another state would have to determine if there was marriage reciprocity in place. If so, they could apply for a temporary or permanent license in the new state. If there isn't reciprocity the couple would not be legally married until they established residency and applied for a license in the new state.

Until they married on the new state they would be considered legal strangers who may be cohabiting but have no rights or protections - like same-sex couples in Utah now.

Seems like a reasonable solution under the circumstances. I, for one, would be happy to lobby hard to keep Ohio from recognizing any marriage that had ever been performed in Utah. I am sure citizens of other states would join that effort.

seattle, WA

The problem with this argument is that a gay couple moving from a "free" state to another state who does not recognize their marriage, loses their previous status due to animus. Their children are placed in limbo. They are seated in the back of the legal bus yet again. And it throws out the current notion that being married in one state makes you married in another.

Given that same sex marriage is legal in 19 states, and is recognized by the federal government for virtually all benefits, rights and responsibilities, how can you ever have "federalism" (whatever that means to people these days) regarding same sex marriage. How do you ever square that circle? Would anyone approve of the state of Washington refusing to recognize Utah marriages if they were sealed in a temple? Don't think so.

Karen R.
Houston, TX

Scientific advancements have kept abortion an issue. If we had no way of keeping a fetus alive before it reached term, anti-abortionists would be in the same position as SSM opponents: You either have a fundamental right or you do not. How do you argue that SS couples are equal only sometimes, i.e., in this shop, but not that one?

Where SS couples will not have the right to be treated equally is in churches, temples, etc. No one is suggesting that the law intrudes there. If they are, they're mistaken.

The federalism question is already well-established - laws must not be unconstitutional - so I don't see a hook on which to hang your hat there. And the issue would not be in the hands of the Judiciary if states had not gotten carried away by religious fervor and put to a vote the rights of others.

IMO, the argument against SSM is a poor advertisement for religion at a time when religion is already losing adherents. So you proceed at your own risk. Or are you suggesting a "hostile takeover" under the leadership of General Bobby Jindal?

American Fork, UT

How well will it work when someone married in one state is treated differently when in another? This sounds like a right that accrues to people, portable as they are, and not to states.

Salt Lake City, UT

The public debate over same sex marriage has been going on for twenty years and the author of this editorial still doesn't understand what same sex couples want.

He wrote: "Gays and lesbians say they want the legal right to express their loving relationships through government recognition of their unions." That's not only inaccurate, it's almost incoherent. Gay and lesbian couples are asking for the same legal rights and responsibilities afforded heteroexual couples through the legal act of marriage. Nothing more nothing less.

The moral question is comparable to divorce not abortion. Catholicism teaches that divorce is wrong and opposes remarriage; yet Catholics successfully live in a nation in which divorce and remarraige are readily available legal options. Same sex marriage is comparable. Some churches already perform and recognize same sex marriages, other do not. It will take time but people will adapt.

At this point, it's feasible the Supreme Court may not take Utah's case. The court generally rules when lower courts disagree with one another. Thus far, that's not happening.

Values Voter

I've started to save opinion pieces and articles like this that predict a SCOTUS ruling against equal marriage rights for gays and lesbians. I save them because, in my view, they are so quickly going to be proven wrong and I want to be able to compare the reality with the wishful thinking that still existed in some quarters, even at this late date.

Unlike public opinion on the abortion issue, which has remained remarkably stable over the last few decades, public opinion on this issue has shifted dramatically in the last decade. More and more people, even religious people, just don't see a problem with embracing the full humanity of gay people and according the relationships of neighbors, family members and friends, equal dignity and respect.

E Sam
Provo, UT

Not so. This is about equality before the law. Gays are asking for the same rights that are enjoyed by all other citizens. States like Utah are asking to be allowed to continue to discriminate. Gays can demonstrate that they have suffered harm at the hands of the state. Nobody, and nothing suffers harm if discrimination ends.

Bountiful, UT

The flagrant hypocrisy by conservatives on the marriage issue is best illustrated by example:

-What if a state, lets say Massachusetts, decided to outlaw private ownership of guns, by both a popular vote of the electorate and by legislation. Conservatives would be eagerly awaiting the trump card of the Supreme Court to restore the right to bear arms over the top of state sovereignty.

-If the Supreme Court indicated marriage is a state issue, period, and some Californians decided to put another Proposition about marriage on the state ballot today, conservatives would be screaming and wailing, because they know if Prop 8 were on the ballot again, it would probably not pass, and a new Proposition affirming gay marriage would almost certainly win.

Conservatives have suddenly become champions of democracy, when there are innumerable instances in the past where they emphasized that we have a Republic, where the mob rule of democracy should be resisted.

Understands Math
Lacey, WA

"Those who believe that a child deserves a mother and a father and that it would be wrong for the government to impose gay marriage..."

Is anyone being forced into same-sex marriages? No?

Then no one is being imposed upon.

Mike Richards
South Jordan, Utah

Who has the "right" to define family? Who has the "right" to define marriage? Who has the right to decide whether changing those definitions will harm children who are raised in non-traditional "families"?

Some people are suggesting that they have the right to redefine family and marriage. They assert that no harm is being done. Are they sure? What happens to society when a child is not taught correct principles? What happens to society when that child is not taught about his Father in Heaven or of absolute laws? What happens to society when a child is told that God makes mistakes when He assigns gender?

Would people be correct if they said that gravity is not an absolute law pertaining to us as we live on earth? Would they tell a child that 2% of the population could jump off a cliff and not be harmed when gravity pulled them to their destruction at the foot of that cliff?

States have the right to protect children. Utah is looking out for the welfare of children by upholding the absolute definition of "marriage".

Houston, TX

@Marxist - You used Jim Crow laws as an example, and stated that they would still be in force if the federal government had not intervened.

I don't think anyone knows for sure how public attitudes can change. Slavery was rampant for over a century in Brazil, but in the 19th Century people demanded it to be abolished. They didn't need a civil war. The legislature just voted it in.

How do we know that America in the 80's wouldn't have come around on their own?

99352, WA

If you had ever traveled or lived in the south Marxist, you would have your answer. I have done both and I have no doubt that Jim Crow would be alive and well in the south today.

Salt Lake City, UT

@ Mike Richards "States have the right to protect children. " I absolutely agree, and the needs of children are even more important than the needs of marital partners.

@ gmlewis "How do we know that America in the 80's wouldn't have come around [on Jim Crow] on their own?" We don't know, but the history is what it is - the Federal government took action when the states did not.

Salt Lake City, UT

It seems opponents of marriage equality are scrambling. In state after state judges are striking down their SSM bans. Even Governor Herbert has belatedly suggested civil unions as a solution. It is a little late for that as Amendment 3 also banned those. A state has a right to "define" marriage, but limiting it in the way they do is more than defining. It is legislating. And Drew did not mention another problem. SSMs in states where it is legal, are invalidated when the couple move to a state which does not recognize it. What is your "compromise" there?

Eugene, OR

The more obvious it becomes that gay marriage will become legal, the more shrill and desperate these opinion pieces will become. And does anybody at the DN catch the deep irony of hoping for "compromise" after cheerleading Amendment Three?

Provo, UT

I think you're wrong, Drew Clark. Under your scenario, what would happen if a couple moved from Massachusetts to Utah? Would they be married or not? What if a Utah couple traveled to Massachusetts and got married and then returned home. Would they be married? What would happen if a legally married same sex couple was on vacation in Utah and one of the spouses was critically injured. Would the hospital treat the spouse as next of kin or would they require the injured spouses' parents or other next of kin to give consent to treatment. In addition to these complications of having different laws all over the United States, the more important thing to think about is why you think it is acceptable that some citizens of our country are treated differently from other citizens. Don't bother with the slippery slope arguments about people marrying dogs, cats, trees, and kids. Dogs, cats, trees, and kids cannot enter into contracts.

Salt Lake City, UT

I get what the writer is saying - since neither side can compromise the only possible "compromise" is through Federalism. Message received.

The question of what is best for children in the SSM debate weighs heavily on me. I confess I don't know for sure. I think I'll leave that question to those better informed that I.

Cleveland , OH

@Mike Richards

You seem confused. We live in a Constitutional Republic, not a theocracy. We live under laws, not religious leaders claiming "god said..."

We have a specific Amendment that says government is not allowed to set up or endorse a state religion, which means that religious teaching cannot be mandated by government because a religious leader proclaims "god said..." We have elected leaders who pass laws, and a court system that ensures the laws are Constitutional.

Iraq is a situation where the religious want to enforce their teachings, and justify their extreme violence because they believe "god said."

I understand that you believe your religious teachings are the same as scientific principles, like gravity. Sadly, they are not. Gravity can be proven with independent and replicatable testing. Religion is based on "feelings."

While you are welcome to have your feelings and teach them to your children in your home, the Constitution says you cannot force others live according to your feelings.

Besides, Mormons are 2% of the US population. In the theocracy you envision, do you think your religion would be allowed to exist?

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