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March, 13th 2013

Rand Paul on same-sex marriage

– Liz Mair

From NRO:

“I’m an old-fashioned traditionalist. I believe in the historic and religious definition of marriage,” he says. “That being said, I’m not for eliminating contracts between adults. I think there are ways to make the tax code more neutral, so it doesn’t mention marriage. Then we don’t have to redefine what marriage is; we just don’t have marriage in the tax code.”

My translation: 

"Personally, when I hear the term 'married,' I think of a man and a woman. That's what the term has meant historically and as a matter of religious definition. However, states need to recognize contracts whether they're between gay couples or straight couples, which many states do not currently do on 'public policy' grounds. We also need to reform the federal tax code so that it doesn't treat married people differently from single people. If we do both of those things, then you achieve equal rights without having a discussion about what 'marriage' is or is not and who is entitled to what from government and who is not."

He's basically right here. The big problem, on my read, is that this isn't something that would be politically popular enough to get it done. (Additional side issue: This doesn't deal with immigration questions). But it is important insofar as it indicates his thinking.

Remember, many constitutional amendments barring same-sex marriage also bar government recognition of anything between two dudes or two ladies that looks or acts like a marriage (i.e., civil unions, partnership agreements). (And remember, courts are part of government, too). We have states that have said "no" to the idea of partner visitation rights where one half of a couple of hospitalized. These policies amount to a non-recognition of contracts. And that is a huge problem for same-sex couples.

Paul's answer, unsurprisingly, is not the most practical one (I'm a libertarian and I think our ideas are awesome, but I certainly won't argue that they're easy or could be implemented in a straightforward, non-controversial manner). But it does give an important indication of how he thinks about this issue, which is very different from how a lot of Republican elected officials think about it. [intro]

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