In the presidential debate of May 5 2011, did congressman and 2012 contender Ron Paul make a stand in support of marriage freedom in America or against marriage freedom?
The answer depends on whether you’re looking at Ron Paul’s rhetorical flourishes or his stance on policy.
A transcript of the Republican’s remarks in an exchange with FOX News correspondent Shannon Bream:
Shannon Bream: Are you advocating legalizing gay marriage in this country?
Ron Paul: Well, as a matter of fact I spent a whole chapter in a new book I’ve written on marriage, and I think that it’s very important, seeing that I’ve been married for 53, 54 years now. But I think the government should just be out of it. I think it should be done by the church or private contract, and we shouldn’t have this argument — who’s married and who isn’t married. I have my standards, but I shouldn’t impose my standards on others. Others have standards, and they have no right to impose their marriage standards on me. I just don’t like it.
That sounds pretty clear, doesn’t it? Ron Paul thinks that marriage should be a private matter out of the hands of government regulation. But wait: Ron Paul continued…
But if we want to have something to say about marriage, it should be at the state level, not at the federal government. Just get the government out of it. It’s one area where it’s totally unnecessary and will cause more trouble than necessary.
Bream: All right. Given that answer, I have to ask you about your defense of the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between one man and one woman. Even just weeks ago, you criticized this administration for its decision to no longer defend it against legal challenges.
Paul: And the main reason there is the Defense of Marriage Act, and I’ve been quoted as I voted for it. I supported it, but I wasn’t there. Because that bill actually protects the states. I do recognize that the federal government shouldn’t tell the states what to do, and the Defense of Marriage Act was really designed to make sure that the, ah, that, ah, the states have the privilege of dealing with it, and the federal government can’t impose their standards on them.
The text of the Defense of Marriage Act is not long:
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the `Defense of Marriage Act’.
SEC. 2. POWERS RESERVED TO THE STATES.
(a) IN GENERAL- Chapter 115 of title 28, United States Code, is amended by adding after section 1738B the following:
`Sec. 1738C. Certain acts, records, and proceedings and the effect thereof
`No State, territory, or possession of the United States, or Indian tribe, shall be required to give effect to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other State, territory, possession, or tribe respecting a relationship between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of such other State, territory, possession, or tribe, or a right or claim arising from such relationship.’.
(b) CLERICAL AMENDMENT- The table of sections at the beginning of chapter 115 of title 28, United States Code, is amended by inserting after the item relating to section 1738B the following new item:
`1738C. Certain acts, records, and proceedings and the effect thereof.’.
SEC. 3. DEFINITION OF MARRIAGE.
(a) IN GENERAL- Chapter 1 of title 1, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following:
`Sec. 7. Definition of `marriage’ and `spouse’
`In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word `marriage’ means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word `spouse’ refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.’.
(b) CLERICAL AMENDMENT- The table of sections at the beginning of chapter 1 of title 1, United States Code, is amended by inserting after the item relating to section 6 the following new item:
`7. Definition of `marriage’ and `spouse’.’.
The Defense of Marriage Act has two effects:
1. It allows any state to disregard any “public act, record, or judicial proceeding” of another state if such an act, record or proceeding creates a same-sex marriage.
This clause stands in clear violation of the supreme law of the land, the United States Constitution. Article IV, Section 1 of the Constitution mandates that “Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State.” Right down to the particulars of vocabulary, DOMA usurps Article IV. The 14th Amendment to the Constitution declares that “No State shall… deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” Under DOMA, Indiana IS required to acknowledge the marriage of straight couples in Massachusetts, but is not required to acknowledge the marriage of same-sex couples in Massachusetts. That is unequal protection under law. In supporting the Defense of Marriage Act, Ron Paul is subverting the rule of law under the Constitution that he frequently waves and claims to value so deeply. He prioritizes discrimination against gay and lesbian people over adherence to the Constitution.
2. It creates, for the first time in U.S. history, a federal definition of marriage, one limiting marriage to heterosexual couples.
Ron Paul may make abstract declarations in a debate that “I think the government should just be out of it,” that “we shouldn’t have this argument — who’s married and who isn’t married,” and that “I have my standards, but I shouldn’t impose my standards on others,” but he supports a law putting government in the business of defining who’s married and who isn’t married and allowing the imposition of that standard on others. Ron Paul might say all sorts of things, but in practice he supports an unconstitutional law used to discriminate against gay and lesbian people and to police people’s marriages.