TAMPA, March 26, 2013 – No satire could approach reality when it comes to the federal government. While its two “polar opposite” political parties continue their standoff over whether the federal budget should increase $2.5 trillion or $2.4 trillion over the next ten years, its supposedly apolitical arm will begin deliberating over who is allowed to get married.
After that, they will take up the question of which end of the egg Americans may break.
Only a full century of government mayhem could have led to this. The court will consider two laws that together make up such a tangled mess that it’s fitting that the body that found Obamacare to be “a tax” should be assigned to sort it out.
The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is the federal law that stipulates that no state is required to recognize a same sex marriage from another state. It also defines marriage as being between a man and a woman for all “federal purposes,” meaning any benefits normally paid to spouses in a federal retirement or entitlement program.
DOMA itself is a quagmire. Proponents of federalism have read the interstate portion as a protection of states’ rights, but is it? If this is an area that is beyond the power of the federal government, then why does Congress have to pass a law to say so? Why are they allowed to pass such a law at all?
The true federalist position would be for Congress to remain silent on the issue and for any dispute that made it into a federal court as a “controversy between two or more states” to be dismissed as not a matter of law “arising under this Constitution.” But two hundred years of judicial overreach has obliterated that possibility.
The second plank of DOMA is equally absurd. As far as Social Security and other federal entitlements, they shouldn’t exist in the first place. There are no moral or constitutional grounds for forcing the 20-year-olds of today to subsidize retirees or for empowering them to extort the 20-year-olds of tomorrow who aren’t even born yet. But having upheld laws legitimizing the theft, we are suddenly led to believe that there is some moral or constitutional question about what kinds of people can legally steal.
At first, a fiscal conservative objection to striking down DOMA might sound more reasonable. That argument basically says, “Hey, it’s not fair that you can’t get the benefits, but the program is already broke and we just can’t afford it.” Life isn’t always fair, right?
This argument is as farcical as the rest. The federal entitlement programs have $222 trillion in unfunded liabilities. Trillions may be the new billions, but that doesn’t change the fact that these programs are not just bankrupt, they’re hopelessly bankrupt. They’re so bankrupt that to imply that the additional liability from the surviving spouses of same sex marriages would make a difference justifies the Benny Hill music.
That brings us to California’s Proposition 8. Proponents of gay marriage would be dancing in the streets if the high priests struck this one down, but that would be a pyrrhic victory even for them. By striking down a state law concerning marriage, the court would be recognizing another federal power that presumably resides “between the lines” of the Constitution. That legitimizes the constitutionality of DOMA or maybe even something worse, depending upon your perspective.
Barring a virtually unprecedented miracle, the high priests will get this decision wrong, as they have most others. Homosexuals may be able to take perverse solace in the fact that in at least one way, they are recognized as equal with heterosexuals: the federal government claims the right to exercise power over every aspect of their lives.
All of this proves one thing. No written constitution or body of laws can protect people from themselves once they abandon the law of nature. The only way to stop the insanity at all levels – local, state and federal – is to reestablish a few basic principles. All human beings are free to “order their actions and dispose of their persons and possessions as they see fit” as long as they do not invade the rights of others. And no one may make a claim upon the property of another unless as restitution for a crime or a tort. Imagine if Americans started believing those again.
Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.