In Defense of Federalism

Last week’s New Jersey Supreme Court decision demonstrates once again that federalism works. The genius of our founders is on display in the Garden State. This decision makes it clear that the people of New Jersey don’t need federal intervention to deal with the question of how to treat gay and lesbian couples.

Not surprisingly, anti-gay groups and desperate politicians have used this decision to renew their push for the unnecessary anti-family Federal Marriage Amendment. This amendment tramples on the principles of federalism and is an unprecedented incursion into state affairs. Two hundred and twenty-five years of history show that the recognition and protection of families is an issue best handled by the states. Republicans have consistently advocated the importance of state and local governance. Rightly so, the GOP has railed against federal mandates and requirements. Now some in the party want to throw federalism out the window.

During the 2000 Vice-Presidential debate, Dick Cheney responded to a question about how same sex relationships should be recognized by government, “I think different states are likely to come to different conclusions, and that’s appropriate. I don’t think there necessarily should be a federal policy in this area.

Former Congressman Bob Barr (R-GA), author of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), stated in testimony before the Senate, “In the best conservative tradition, each state should make its own decision without interference from Washington. If this produces different results in different states, I say hurray for our magnificent system of having discrete states with differing social values. This unique system has given rise to a wonderfully diverse set of communities that, bound together by limited, common federal interests, has produced the strongest nation in human history.