There's an inherent conflict between Republicans' reverence for states' rights and their support for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage everywhere. ("States' rights," it seems, really means "states' rights to enact conservative laws.") This dissonance has never been expressed more perfectly than during the second GOP primary debate in June, when Michele Bachmann actually said these words:
"I do support a constitutional amendment on marriage between a man and a woman, but I would not be going into the states to overturn their state law."
Haaaaa. Okay. Clearly that makes no sense. In fairness, it can be difficult to pander to the social conservative and states' rights wings of the party at the same time.
This is why what Rick Perry did last Friday night was somewhat remarkable: He refused to abandon his states' rights principles, even if that meant that some states, like New York, might do things he doesn't personally agree with:
"Our friends in New York six weeks ago passed a statute that said marriage can be between two people of the same sex. And you know what? That's New York, and that's their business, and that's fine with me," he said to applause from several hundred GOP donors in Aspen, Colo. "That is their call. If you believe in the 10th Amendment, stay out of their business."
Wow! Consistency from a politician! Sadly, this counts as an impressive feat. In fact, though nobody seemed to take much notice at the time (because he wasn't running for president then), Perry had laid out the same position on the Daily Show last November. So much consistency! Consistency overload!
It lasted five days.
Earlier today, Perry told Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council that he backs the Federal Marriage Amendment:
"The real fear is states like New York will change the definition of marriage for Texas. That is the reason the Federal Marriage Amendment is being offered. It's a small group of activists judges and really a small handful, if you will, of states and these liberal special interest groups that are intent on a redefinition, if you will, of marriage on the nation for all of us, which I adamantly oppose. Indeed, to not pass the Federal Marriage Amendment would impinge on Texas' and other states' right not to have marriage forced upon them by these activist judges and these special interest groups."
In case it wasn't totally clear, Perry later added, "I hope we also pass a Federal Marriage Amendment as well." So the situation here is that some states want to legalize gay marriage, and some don't. The solution?
Let each state decide for itself. Amend the Constitution so that no states can have gay marriage. Got it.
Yet in the same interview, Perry also clings to his professed respect for New York's decision to legalize gay marriage:
“I probably needed to add a few words after that ‘it’s fine with me,’ and that it’s fine with me that a state is using their sovereign rights to decide an issue."
Please, just stop it. Stop doing this. Our heads are going to explode.