I showed my post from yesterday to my Love’s lawyer. He reminded me that there are two issues before the Supreme Court in the gay marriage cases:
- Can a state limit marriage to a straight couples?
- If it can, must it nevertheless recognize gay marriages from another state?
My thumb-sucker missed an important distinction:
- The first issue is about individual rights.
- The second issue is about the federal system in the United States.
I addressed my hesitations about the first issue yesterday. My lawyer friend points out that I should have no such qualms about the second issue.
We have a federal system. Most of the law that governs our everyday life is state law. Contracts, property, responsibility for injury, criminal law, … all are governed primarily or exclusively by state law.
State law governs marriage.
Except for one important aspect: A federal system requires rules for recognition of legal status created by other states. Does Massachusetts have to recognize an adoption from Texas? Does Oklahoma have to enforce a contract signed in Kansas? Can a citizen of Minnesota own a retirement home in Arizona? Does Mississippi have to recognize a marriage from New York?
This doesn’t involve the things that were bothering me yesterday. This isn’t philosopher kings trampling democracy. It’s about the respect states owe each other, owe the federal system and owe each other’s citizens. It’s about the ability of an individual to freely move about the country without fear of losing legal status.
I’m not so conflicted about that. In fact, I’m not at all conflicted about it. If my Love and I marry, we’re married, right?
We dream of a wedding in our home state. I’ll happily settle for a legal wedding here in New York and a religious ceremony at my Love’s family ranch. And, someday to move back and raise a houseful of riotous kids, secure that our home will be our home and that our kids will be our kids.