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Defending state’s rights and the liberty of marriage

The political conversation has become so clouded in this country, that what I feel is generally the main point at issue on the national stage is rarely acknowledged, or quickly abandoned in pursuit of the next biggest hot button topic and wedge issue.

When in all reality, the conversation we should be having is one that’s been going on in our country since it’s founding: federalism versus anti-federalism.


I can generally be described as a state’s rights type of guy, believing that, for the most part, people should be governed by their local government, determining what laws are best for the people it immediately affects.

When Colorado passed Amendment 64, I was ecstatic to see Coloradans take the issue of the war on drugs into their own hands.

64 passed in a landslide, but it was interesting to see Obama win our state so handily, necessitating that some of the same people that voted for 64, voted for Obama — who is the biggest threat today of nullifying 64.

Obama isn’t a state’s rights guy, he’s had a long history of persecuting perfectly state law abiding medical marijuana facilities, and in no way think that Coloradans have — or even should have — the authority to determine our drug laws for ourselves outside of the federal government.

Do I believe that states should be supreme in their self-governance, though? No. There are definitely times where the fed’s trump card can and should be implemented, especially in regards to protecting individual liberties.

The clearest example I can think of today are the two same-sex marriage cases set to go before the Supreme Court; one from the 2nd Circuit denying the marriage exemption from the state estate tax to a surviving same-sex spouse under the Federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and the other from the 9th Circuit, who ruled California’s Prop 8 unconstitutionally took away same-sex couples’ right to marry.

Now it’s possible that the Supreme Court narrowly tailor their decision, to where it would only affect the states in question rather than the nation as a whole, but there is also the very real possibility that the decision will be a resounding win for those in favor of same-sex marriage.

Personally, I think there could not be a better opportunity to establish this at the federal level, I see absolutely no justification for discriminating against my fellow GLTBQ citizens. What about state’s rights, though, you may ask. Don’t the people of California have the right to establish their own rule of law, much like Colorado is seeking to do through 64?

The difference between the two is that legalizing the consumption of marijuana for law abiding adults doesn’t negatively infringe upon any person’s individual liberties, banning same-sex marriage does.


Marriage is a social construct, one that requires undying love, affection and devotion from both participants if it is even going to have a chance of succeeding. Who are we to define the parameters of who can and cannot participate, especially if such a restriction could hinder the self-actualization and pursuit of happiness of any fellow citizen?

Preventing same-sex couples from marrying seems as juvenile and nonsensical as creating the rules to an imaginary game as a child, and arbitrarily declaring that girls aren’t allowed to partake in your fictionally constructed reality.

But in the social construct called marriage, there are very real material benefits for playing the game.

Should same-sex couples have access to these same benefits that come with being married? Unquestionably.

However, this reveals an even subtler form of discrimination, one that is rarely mentioned: discrimination against single people.

Anybody who chooses not to marry will never be able to capitalize on the favorable tax treatment and range of health and pension benefits available to married couples.

Many of these benefits have slowly been implemented in order to strengthen and encourage the modern family. But should we really be trying to influence the choices our fellow citizens are making in their lives, providing them with financial incentives and benefits if they cooperate with the will of state and dutifully wed each other and reproduce more red-blooded patriots?

If our system wasn’t racked with these carrots and sticks, trying to coerce us into doing what we’ve decided is best, right, and morally acceptable, both halves of the country might not be screaming at each other over the rules of a social construct that it can be argued the government has no place in at all.

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