January 23, 2004

The issue of gay marriage is taking an oversized role in thinking about who ought to be President. This is an issue that needs to ripen over time, and it is quite unfortunate that everyone needs to suddenly take a position. The candidates know they have to finesse it, and one move is to say, as John Edwards did in the debate last night (transcript here), that the decision ought to be left to the states. Of course, traditionally, marriage has been left to the states, but what do you do about the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which debate moderator Brit Hume had asked him about:
[T]he Defense of Marriage Act, as I understand it -- you're right, I wasn't there when it was passed -- but as I understand it, it would have taken away that power. And I think that's wrong. That power should not be taken away from the states.
Can you get away with finessing the gay marriage issue by failing to understand the Defense of Marriage Act (or pretending to)? Hume came back with the right follow-up question:
HUME: Does not the Defense of Marriage Act specifically say that the court rulings in one state, which might, for example, recognize a gay marriage, may not be imposed on another state? In other words, doesn't the Defense of Marriage go to the very position which you yourself take?

EDWARDS: No, the Defense of Marriage -- first of all, I wasn't in the Congress, I don't claim to be an expert on this. But as I understand the Defense of Marriage Act, it would take away the power of some states to choose whether they would recognize or not recognize gay marriages. That's my understanding of it.

"I don't claim to be an expert on this"? Come on! Edwards is a lawyer and a senator, and he's claiming a reasonably short federal statute is beyond his comprehension? Or is he claiming he's never bothered to try to understand it, even though he knows gay marriage is a key issue in the campaign and he means to get by with the leave-it-to-the-states angle?

"That's my understanding of it"? "I wasn't in the Congress"? How can that be enough?

1 comment:

Brent said...

I'm writing this on August 9, 2007:

Ann how prescient you were.

John Edwards is gain running for President, and he is again getting tripped up on this very issue.