Social issues are hard to talk about. There is very little bipartisanship on abortion, gay rights, stem cell research, contraception mandates, etc. That’s why it’s challenging to sit down with even friends, disagree and still remain as friends. They divide us, and for what reason?
In my view, they are not federal issues, unlike the state of the economy. The 10th Amendment could not be any clearer: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
There is no mention in the U.S. Constitution about marriage. The status of this institution must be defined by the state and local governments.
The fact that it is not mentioned in our constitution diminishes the importance of the issue. It doesn’t make it irrelevant, but it should leave it out of the national conversation and focus on issues that are listed in our law. The economy would be that issue.
You can ask most Americans, and they will tell you that the unemployment rate is the single most important issue.
This view even extends to gay Americans. In fact, Harris Institute conduced a poll for the LGBT Logo TV channel that showed that 32 percent of gay voters ranked the economy as the most important issue, compared to the 6 percent that believed that gay marriage was most important.
The Defense of Marriage Act is done. When you have a conservative judge rule against DOMA, then you have to wonder, why are federal laws regarding marriage still relevant?
When a conservative judge and the New York Supreme Court — far from a conservative state — both recently ruled against DOMA, then you know that this is an issue that both conservatives and liberals are coming together on.
This is becoming less of a legal conversation. The appropriate issue to talk about is not whether marriage should be open to gays. The conversation people should have is about marriage overall. The sad fact is that one third of marriages end in divorce.
Gender does not determine the failure or success of marriage. We need to look at the institution itself. What works and what does not? Be it gay or straight, there is something that’s going on and Washington does not have the answers.
You cannot legislate morals or values. In this case, you can not legislate good marriages. Just like you cannot implant a democratic system on Iraq or Afghanistan. People need to learn about their own values and then change society from within. Laws do not create culture.
With that in mind, most Americans are changing their views on gay marriage. Our culture is changing. Independents favor legalizing gay marriage by 57 percent, and even 51 percent of Catholics agree as well.
Opinions are changing, and that shift will matter more than what Governor Romney or President Obama believe.
Americans are turning the page, and they are changing our culture. The appropriate thing to do is change our state laws. The more decentralized our federal government is, the closer it is to us, the people. That’s what the founders believed, and that’s what we should practice.