Gary Johnson announces support for same-sex marriage

Today Gary Johnson, GOP candidate for President in 2012, announced that he is updating his position on same-sex marriages versus civil unions. I support the legalization of same-sex marriage in my own state so overall I’m pleased to hear this announcement. I am also a little concerned about the language Gov Johnson used when he said that marriage should be up to individuals rather than the states.

I’d like to see the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) go away and I would like to see the federal government recognize for tax and other legal purposes any marriage that was legal in the state in which it was performed. But I’d like state legislatures or the people of each state to make that call. If a state does not wish to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, I don’t think the Federal Government ought dictate that they do. That seems almost as bad as DOMA.

I appreciate Gov Johnson’s rhetoric concerning the role of government, but as he is running for President of the United States, I’d prefer that he not take a position one way or the other on issues that the Federal Government ought stay out of.

If we want liberty in our country, the Federal Government should respect the Tenth Amendment and take no position on states’ issues. Even though that means giving power to the states that can be used to restrict liberty, that is often preferable to the exercise of power at the federal level to restrict the states. Yes, the Federal Government does exist in part to rein in the states when necessary, but this doesn’t seem to be an issue where there’s a clear (or even vague) federal mandate to decide the issue.

It’s true that the full faith and credit clause of the Constitution (Article IV Section 1) could make things sticky between states that allow same-sex marriage and states that ban it, but this is an area where the Federal Government does have a Constitutional mandate to legislate the guidelines for states to get along: that same Article IV Section 1 continues:

And the Congress may by general laws prescribe the manner in which such acts, records, and proceedings shall be proved, and the effect thereof.

So I’d like to see a politician running for federal office propose a solution to the interstate issues rather than an endorsement or condemnation of same-sex marriage. Instead of DOMA, why don’t we have federal legislation that specifies the extent to which states may or must recognize marriages performed in other states. Such a law could state for example that any marriage from another state must be recognized for the purposes of determining next-of-kin but that a state which doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage would not have to allow those couples to file taxes jointly. Or vice-versa. Each state should be allowed the latitude to define marriage for itself, but the Federal Government should guide the manner in which the states recognize one another’s marriages. That’s the kind of issue the Federal Government should be involved in and the kind of solutions that a candidate for President should be offering.

That said, «Gary Johnson Announces Support For the Tenth Amendment» doesn’t grab headlines like «gay marriage» does. Gov Johnson should do what he has to do to get the attention of the American people. I’d just like to see a little more nuance in the paragraphs below the headline.