DeMint Wants States Rights, Except Marriage

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c7fa/1241552351-gaymarch.jpgPictured: A local gay rights rally last fall.

Sen. Jim DeMint’s office has reasserted his commitment to a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. In a Wall Street Journal op ed this week, DeMint argues states should determine their own policies on a host of issues, not the federal government. At one point in the piece DeMint mentions the continuing debate over gay marriage, but his office confirmed today that he still feels the pressing need for federal intervention on that issue.

1e65/1241552413-_080326.demint-large_resized.jpgIn the piece, DeMint charts a course for the Republican Party by suggesting the GOP brand “freedom.” The word means different things to different people, DeMint says, but there are core principles the party can rally around.

“Republicans can welcome a vigorous debate about legalized abortion or same-sex marriage; but we should be able to agree that social policies should be set through a democratic process, not by unelected judges,” he writes.

Likely meant to be a reference to the oft-mentioned “activist judges” that have ruled against marriage bans in a handful of states, DeMint’s rhetoric doesn’t match the realities on the ground. State legislators in Vermont recently became the first elected leaders to approve gay marriage without a court mandate. New Hampshire and New York could soon be next.

Considering the op ed was meant to encourage state and local control on issues like education, health care, and energy, it led us to wonder whether DeMint was now supporting a state’s right to determine whether gays could wed. Not so, says spokesman Wesley Denton.

Speaking to us briefly on Tuesday, Denton says the senator continues to support the federal government stepping in through a constitutional amendment. He says this does not run counter to DeMint’s anti-federalist argument and that it’s “the most democratic process” because each state must weigh ratification (amendments require the support of legislatures in three-fourths of the states).

DeMint has largely found support in libertarian (lower case “l”) circles in recent months, but his federal solution to the marriage issue doesn’t mesh with that of Congressman Ron Paul and other libertarian leaders. Paul is opposed to a federal amendment, saying the issue should be left to states or that the government’s role in recognizing unions should be eliminated all together.

DeMint’s strong support for states rights, while also seeking federal involvement on gay marriage may be indicative of a larger struggle between the religious and libertarian elements of the Republican Party as it rebrands itself.

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