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A Conversation on Marriage

This was originally going to be posted at The EqualityMySpace Blog, but MySpace is currently having “technical difficulties.”

I spoke briefly with Jordan Palmer, the President of the Kentucky Equality Federation (website, myspace profile). We had a short, but very interesting, conversation on the issue of marriage equality for LGBT people. The conversation below was in the context of the news on the HRC/Logo Presidential Forum.

With his permission, excerpts from the conversation appear below (the fold).Jordan Palmer: The federal government cannot force laws, especially a definition of marriage on states.

Matt Comer: In one instance, I might agree with you. Our history has clearly proven that matters of the family and education and a variety of other issues are to be left to the states. In this way, the Defense of Marriage Act is certainly un-constitutional.

On the other hand, however, I would posit that our jurisprudence has proven that marriage and the right to marry a person of one’s own choosing is a civil right (Virginia vs. Loving). If this is a civil right, I fully believe that the federal government – which has the power to protect and gaurantee the civil rights of all citizens – would have the right to say (as in the case of Virginia vs. Loving) that states must allow same-sex couples to marry.

Jordan: The state has more impact on your daily life than the federal government. The federal government and each state government exist parallel to each other with neither “reporting” to or being subordinate to the other. Since the presidency of Bush however, the independence movements in California, Hawaii, and Vermont have gained considerable support.

Imagine what would happen if the federal government attempted to legalize gay marriage? I’m sure Alabama, Florida, South Carolina, Texas, and Kentucky (among many others) would balk at the notion.

Legal scholars have stated that the federal government cannot impose a definition of marriage onto the laws of the various states.

Though I agree with you 100% about equality, equal rights, etc. I think we are a long, long way off in Kentucky, and most southern states.

The federal government cannot force legislation on states; look at the U.S. Patriot Act as a good example. Nine states condemned the act (see Bill of Rights Defense Committee) and prohibit state, county, and city employees from participating in, or gathering/reporting information to the federal government as the Act requires. In Kentucky, the City of Lexington is the only government that has condemned the Act.

I am a HUGE fan of downsizing the federal government.

Matt: States rights is an important issue if we seek to keep this nation together. I agree with you. I am a Southerner as well, lol. I don’t think many Southerners – and for that fact, many Americans – appreciate large, powerful governments. That is what we attempted to separate ourselves from when we declared independence from Great Britain.

Again, and I think we agree, equality is important and there are times that the federal government must step in.

For example, education is something left to the states, but the federal government had to step in during the 1950s and 1960s in order to enforce equality in education.

Sometimes, the federal government is a necessary evil.

Jordan: I see the points on all sides.

So… what are your thoughts? Have any additions? Agree, Disagree, Somewhere in between? Comment below.

I’ve got to say that Jordan is a great guy. He keeps his political views pretty neutral and, although he is registered a Democrat, he likes to see things from a view in the middle. In his own words, “I try to remain neutral with the belief that all political parties have great (and horrible) ideas at times.”

He’s doing great work in Kentucky and him, his mother, his organization and his wonderful networking skills were definitely the only reason our Soulforce Equality Ride events at University of the Cumberlands (PDF) in Williamsburg, KY, were even a possibility.

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Matt Comer

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