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October 21, 2007

Giuliani Would Ban Gay Marriage

So says Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council.

Perkins said Giuliani told him in a private meeting that if the Defense of Marriage Act appeared to be failing or if multiple states began to legalize same-sex marriages, then he would support the constitutional amendment [banning gay marriage].

. . .

Perkins said that was not enough to assuage his concerns about Giuliani, but it was nice to hear.

It should be emphasized that this was a private meeting and Giuliani has made no public mention of supporting a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. I'm sure he'll get the question from reporters tomorrow, so we'll know more then.

Three things strike me as very wrong about this. First, it's a cavalier abandonment of federalism. Yes, I know that it's perfectly legal to ban gay marriage through a constitutional amendment. That doesn't make it any more acceptable to take the decision whether or not to allow gay marriages out of the hands of states.

"If multiple states begin to legalize" he'll just swoop in with a federal prohibition? That's disturbing for all the usual reasons. Now, something a little more nuanced--for example, exempting each state from recognizing the same-sex marriages of other states--would be less problematic because it would recognize states' choices. (Not that I would support that amendment either, but it assuages the federalism issue.)

Second, Giuliani has been strongly characterized as pro-gay rights. I don't know how he really feels about this, but he's going to have to watch himself. The flip-floppy road is not a winning one, no matter what his policy advisers are telling him.

He's been an unambiguous supporter of domestic partnerships. More recently, he's been pretty wishy-washy on civil unions. The truth of the matter is that, of the Republicans, he is the least well positioned to have a national debate on gay marriage. It is his weak-spot; his Achilles heal. No matter how strongly opposed to gay marriage he sounds now, voters will always wonder what he'll really do if we pick him.

Third, he appears to have very deliberately chosen not to mention marriage at the Values Voters Summit. Sneaking around afterwards to quietly try and convince the leader of a widely-respected, socially conservative organization that he's really an "okay guy" isn't going to work. This isn't amateur hour; Giuliani should have known that details of any "private meeting" were going to hit the wires within an hour, especially on this topic.

I can't tell what's irritating me more. Ideologically, it's disappointing to see Giuliani so willing to use the national government to beat states into submission. Personally, its unfortunate that he's turning on gays. And as far as process goes, which goober-adviser thought that now would be a good time start flip-flopping?

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posted by Gabriel Malor at 03:32 AM

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