Sunday, July 18, 2004

Sen. John Kerry’s flamboyant flip flops — like voting for the war in Iraq and then against the $87 billion to fund it, courting conservative Sen. John McCain for vice president before turning to liberal Sen. John Edwards and taking both sides on the first Gulf War in separate letters to the same constituent — have garnered substantial attention in recent months. But lost in the turmoil are more subtle, but no less baffling, flip flops on the issue of same-sex “marriage.”

Back in 1996, faced with the prospect of court-imposed same-sex “marriages” in Hawaii, the Senate passed the Defense of Marriage Act, which clarified that no state is required to recognize same-sex “marriages” performed in other states. DOMA passed the Senate by an overwhelming vote of 85-14, and was signed into law by Bill Clinton. Mr. Kerry was one of the 14 senators who voted no, on grounds that it was “unnecessary and divisive.” Back then, he even labeled it fundamentally unconstitutional, on the premise that the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the Constitution requires states to recognize marriages performed outside their borders. Mr. Kerry also said that DOMA was “fundamentally ugly” and amounted to “legislative gay-bashing,” and he compared the current marriage laws to a “caste system” akin to bans on interracial marriages decades before.

But now — after four judges legalized same-sex “marriage” in Massachusetts, and with conservatives pushing the Federal Marriage Amendment — Mr. Kerry supports leaving the issue up to the states. So why, just eight years ago, did he vote against DOMA, which was passed in order to leave same-sex “marriage” up to the states? To Mr. Kerry’s credit, he now acknowledges that he was wrong in calling DOMA fundamentally unconstitutional. But he still brags about voting against it on his Web site. How can this be?

Mr. Kerry justifies this contradiction by saying that DOMA was “unnecessary.” The fact that marriage has been left up to the states for more than 200 years, Mr. Kerry thinks, is enough to keep same-sex marriages from leaking across state lines. “I think, in fact, that no state has to recognize something that is against their public policy,” Mr. Kerry said during the presidential primaries. DOMA therefore was nothing more than a needlessly divisive form of “gay-bashing.” The Full Faith and Credit Clause of the Constitution, which Mr. Kerry invoked eight years earlier, apparently no longer applies.

Just to add another thread to the web, Mr. Kerry has said all along that he opposes same-sex “marriage.” But until recently, he also opposed a Massachusetts constitutional amendment limiting marriage to the union of a man and a woman. Now, inexplicably, he supports the amendment.

So, all in all, it appears that Mr. Kerry voted against leaving same-sex “marriage” up to the states before he said that the issue should be left up to the states. He’s said that the Full Faith and Credit Clause applies to marriage before he said that it doesn’t. And he’s declared all along that he opposes same-sex “marriage,” but he also opposed a Massachusetts marriage amendment limiting marriage to the union of a man and a woman. Now, he flip flopped on that as well. It’s a tangled mess. So, where does Mr. Kerry really stand? Everywhere, as usual.

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