Thursday, June 08, 2006

The "Federal Marriage Amendment" - once again, Christian Conservatives look to the Beast for help...

Much was made in Enquirer-like circles of the fact that this week started with the date "06/06/06," a reminder of the "Mark of the Beast" in the Book of Revelations. It is a symbol that the End-Times Crowd has often warned about - and so it is increasingly ironic that many of the same Christian Conservatives and Republicans went running to the Beast this week in order to 'preserve' marriage. The Beast, of course, is how I refer to the Federal Government.

For decades, the Republicans have been telling us that they stand for smaller government, for limited government, for local control rather than federal fiats imposed on the states. This was one of Ronald Reagan's key mantras in the 1980s than helped propel him to two unprecendented landslide victories.

But do the Republicans really believe what they are saying?

In the last few years, this "small government" crowd has overseen the largest expansion of federal power since the Civil War - even more so than the much-derided New Deal under FDR. The Patriot Act, telephone surveillance, the development of a national ID card (REAL ID), warrantless searches, secret prisons and detainees held without bail or charges are not the actions of a "small government" crowd.

Of course, some try to tortuously defend all this by claiming we are at war. And yet, that doesn't explain the intrusive "No Child Left Behind" Act, the efforts by the Food & Drug Administration to regulate herbal supplements and fight state laws on medical marajuana, the efforts by Congress to interfere in major league baseball policy, the bloated budget, tariffs on steel and textiles, a government-expanded medicare boondoggle, or the abysmal deficit. These are not the acts of "small government" or "local control" thinking, and they can not be excused as temporary "war-time" acts. What they are is an unconscionable and unconstitutional expansion of Federal jurisdiction over the rights reserved to the States and to the People themselves (See your 10th amendment to the Bill of Rights).

And amazingly, the footsoldiers of Republicanism - the supposedly anti-big-government rank-and-file social religious conservatives - are in the vanguard of supporting the administration that has achieved the largest expansion of federal power in history.

And then comes the Federal Marriage Amendment.

Oh sure, it's great political hay. The Republican leadership can 'energize' its base by appealing to their emotion on the issue of 'gay marriage' and 'activist judges.' This is a formula that regularly works for the Republicans. And to be sure, many judges are activist, and inappropriately so. But a Federal Marriage Amendment is quite possibly the last leg of a journey whereby the lemmings chase each other off the cliff.

The Federal Government has NEVER had jurisdiction over 'family' issues. These issues have ALWAYS been the province of the states.

Indiviual states decide what the criteria for marriage are. Residency, minimum age, and blood tests vary from state to state. It's a state right, not federal.

Individual states decide what the criteria for divorce is. Abandonment, residency, cruelty, irreconcilable differences, alcoholism, impotency, imprisonment, and a host of other causes of action for divorce, as well as alimony terms, are different from state to state.

Other issues of Family law, such as adoption regulations, the legal status of private adoptions, teenage emancipation, and the legal definitions of abuse and neglect - are ALL individual state laws.

And somehow, we have always left these issues to the states, the states have always had conflicting and different standards, and civilization did not fall apart because of it. Rather, we are stronger for it: the genuius of our Constitution is that it recognizes that one size does not have to fit all, that Alaskans do not have to run their towns the way Floridians do, and that the sensibilities of Mexican immigrants in Arizona might be significantly different from tenth generation Maine Yankees.

By running to amend the Constitution, the religious right is doing precisly that which they supposedly fear: they are running to the federal government to impose a one-size-fits all solution on the entire nation, and, in so doing, seeking to hand over yet more jurisdiction over individual families to Federal Power.

It doesnt matter whether you favor gay marriage or not. This is the wrong approach, and is yet anoter examnple of how the 'small government' Republicans are using emotional scare tactics to amass even greater authority and jurisdiction in Washington.

Sincere apprecition must be expressed to the New England Republicans - Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe (Maine), John Sununu and Judd Gregg (NH) and Lincoln Chaffee (Rhode Island) who bucked their own party to vote against this nonsense.