CommunityPam's House Blend

Mike Gravel on states rights over civil rights

And the presidential candidate (and marriage equality advocate) has Hillary Clinton in his sights.

From Mike Gravel’s entry at Huff Post:

During last week’s historic gay debate, Hillary Clinton dredged up the old states rights argument when justifying her opposition to gay marriage. Apparently she thinks that the second class citizenship of gays and lesbians is a matter for the states to decide.

…States rights has always been the last refuge of the bigots. Now Hillary has given rhetorical cover to the homophobes. If she wins the Democratic nomination, opponents of gay marriage will cite her statement to justify their opposition to national marriage equality over the next decade.

If Hillary misspoke, I urge her to immediately admit it and move on. If she’s on a personal journey toward accepting gay marriage, like John Edwards, that’s fine. Even he admits his opposition to marriage equality is irrational. But as a leader of the Democratic party, Hillary needs to understand the danger of offering constitutional arguments against equality for all Americans. If she believes the states have the right to deny equal rights to their citizens, then she should tell us what other groups she’s willing to sacrifice on the altar of states rights.

Senator Clinton has held firm to a partial repeal of DOMA position that covers federal benefits. Yes, the states determine who may marry, however, the fact that the Supreme Court intervened in the matter in Loving v. Virginia back in 1967 in the case of interracial marriage is a big elephant in the room she and others have not addressed.

It would be more honest to say that the matter is “out of her hands” and will be decided by the Supreme Court, rather than clinging to a defense of states rights when the Loving precedent has already been set. Her position makes it obvious that the logical follow-up question is whether she truly believes there is no commonality between opposition of gay and lesbian couples that wish to marry and and what was faced by interracial couples (religion-based bigotry). I doubt that Clinton privately believes the situations are different, but her current (what she feels is politically safe) position, as Gravel notes, provides cover for the anti-gay crowd.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding