In a popular post Wednesday, I wrote about President Barack Obama's new position in support of gay marriage and I touched upon his uncharacteristic state's rights position, where he said this is merely a personal position and he wants the issue to be decided in each state, not federally.
This is incredibly suspicious and points towards the "election year conversion" being motivated by politics. In effect, he's saying he won't actually do anything for gay marriage, but he'll give it a thumbs up from the tarmac.That view was echoed yesterday during several interviews I conducted with women in gay marriages.
I avoid blogging about an issue I've written about in the newsroom in a nod towards impartiality, but I had already posted my blog entry when I was assigned the story. I spoke to a lawyer who was instrumental in legalizing gay marriage in Massachusetts. She said she welcomes the presidents support, but added it doesn't change any laws. After that, I found a woman who married her partner in 2004 and she taught me something important.
No states have gay marriage so far. Not really.
The couple is legally married in Massachusetts, but they have to file their federal taxes separately and pay more because federally, their marriage isn't legal. The couple is covered under a private health insurance plan through work, but because of the federal denial of gay marriage, they have to pay a special tax on the insurance that no straight couple has to pay.
Yet, they had to pay the same fee for their marriage license. Clearly, they are still not treated the same under the law.
I support state's rights, and my position on them is not "constantly evolving." What we are seeing here is really a lack of state's rights.
We will eventually get gay marriage in every state. By deciding it state by state, we already have it in some places, and the holdout states like Mississippi will have to come around eventually. Deciding it federally is an all-or-nothing position and we wouldn't have any gay marriages so far if we depended on it.
That being said, the federal government is assaulting states' abilities to govern themselves with the awful Defense of Marriage Act. In another weird position, the president has said his administration will not work to overturn DOMA, but will not defend it in court. This is not a legitimate way to treat any legislation, good or bad. If the president really believes states should decide for themselves, he should enable them to by working to overturn DOMA. This would actually defend marriages like those of the gay people I spoke to.
What this situation amounts to is a stealth queer tax, and unlike most things, taxing being gay won't make it smaller.