Perry Vs. Santorum on Gay Marriage

At this early stage of the game, I’d say that my top  choices for the GOP nomination are two Ricks: Perry and Santorum.  The latter has as much chance as I do of actually getting the nomination, but he’ s also the one who I am most sympathetic to ideologically.

I say this all as a preamble because I’m going to disagree with parts of both of their comments from this past weekend.  Rick Perry had this to say about New York’s decision to permit gay marriage:

Perry, who is considering running for president, at a forum in Colorado on Friday called himself an “unapologetic social conservative” and said he opposes gay marriage — but that he’s also a firm believer in the 10th Amendment, the Associated Press reported.

“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, the AP reported.

“That is their call. If you believe in the 10th Amendment, stay out of their business.”

Perry’s argument on behalf of federalism is completely legitimate.  For now I’ll leave that specific debate aside and focus on the tenor of Perry’s statement.  While one can argue that a state has a right to do x, it does not follow that the state should be free from criticism.  This is similar to something that Rudy Giuliani said, and which I criticized last week.  All that federalism means is that individual states have wide latitude to formulate their own laws, free from interference by the federal government.  Federalism does not mean that citizens of other states cannot criticize these decisions.  This idea that federalism entails complete silence on the doings of other states is akin to those who hide behind the first amendment when they say something silly and earn public ridicule.  Just because you have the right to do something or say something it doesn’t mean that you should do something, and citizens of other locales absolutely have the right to speak out against these decisions and perhaps persuade the citizens of the state in question to change their mind.

That said, I have a slight issue with Santorum’s response:

That prompted a response from Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, who tweeted overnight: “So Gov Perry, if a state wanted to allow polygamy or if they chose to deny heterosexuals the right to marry, would that be OK too?”

It’s not unfair to employ the logic of  a slippery slope argument.  There are already rumblings from polygamist groups who want to legalize polygamy now that the floodgates have opened.  That said, there are a couple of problems with this rhetorical strategy.  To me the slippery slope argument is the last refuge when all other arguments fail.  It doesn’t really address the actual issue at hand, and in fact there’s a subtle implication that the subject under consideration is not all that serious a concern.

I guess what bothers me about Santorum’s tweet is that it doesn’t tackle the issue of gay marriage head on.  I acknowledge that this is just a tweet, and Santorum has no doubt argued well on behalf of traditional marriage before.  But this smacks too much of a dodge, as though gay marriage isn’t that bad – but polygamy and the outlawing of heterosexual marriage, now that’s bad.  If the issue under discussion had been abortion, would Santorum have raised the specter of something semi-related?  I doubt it.

I’ll admit I might be nitpicking here, and that Santorum is simply mocking the absurdity(in his view) of Perry’s federalist stance.  Again, you’re not going to capture a lot of nuance in a single tweet – which says something about the nature of twitter, but that’s for another rant.  I just fear that too often defenders of traditional marriage rely upon the slippery slope argument too facilely.  If gay marriage is as bad for society as we think it is, we should argue against it on its own merits (or demerits) instead of attacking semi-related subjects.

22 Responses to Perry Vs. Santorum on Gay Marriage

  • “While one can argue that a state has a right to do x, it does not follow that the state should be free from criticism.

    That’s exactly the idea that I thought when I first read Perry’s remarks. He had an opportunity to display some moral leadership on this issue, and he backed down.

    I know that right now he’s a governor, and he’d like for his state to enjoy the states’ rights that the Constitution calls for. But, for a man flirting with running for POTUS, he needs to show he’s capable of leading a nation.

    As for Santorum’s tweet: I think his response was fine. The institution of marriage is under attack on several related fronts. They need to be linked together in the public’s mind. His tweet might just be the motivation for someone to look more deeply into the matter. I don’t think that it will be a cause for someone to disregard the matter. It was (IMHO) a winning tweet.

  • Big Tex says:

    Frankly, I think the responses offered by both men don’t fully encapsulate their positions on the matter. Then again, this is a sound-bite culture, and they will be judged accordingly. They need to do better.

  • Anil Wang says:

    The key problem is that it is not a “slippery slope”, it’s a fundamental shift. If marriage is just a legal arrangement, then of course, anything can be legislated and it’s just a matter of jurisdiction. If it of divine origin, then no law can declare that something is a marriage when it is not. There is no slope, it’s one or the other. There is no half way point, only a series of inconsistencies between one end an another. And it’s not the last refuge of the desperate, it’s the key defending wall on the citadel of marriage.

    It’s the very same situation with contraception. Either sex is fundamentally tied to the creation of children within a family, or it is not. If it is not, then anything is permissible. It’s one or the other.The logic is spelled out in Humanae Vitae and all the consequences spelled out in the encyclical have come to pass.

  • Joe Green says:

    I find Perry’s stance wanting and cavalier at best. ‘That’s fine with me.’ If I were running for the GOP nomination, I’d cut and paste that in every ad to point out Perry’s lack of moral leadership. Santorum’s argument is valid and not slippery slope, it’s more reductio ad absurdum. If so-called ‘gay marriage’ is allowed, then why not marry 3 people, marry your mother or marry your dog?

    And what of the Defense of Marriage Act which was signed into law by President Bill Clinton on September 21, 1996 whereby the federal government defines marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman. Even though repeal attempts are under way and court challenges are pending, it’s still the law of the land as far as I know even though the Obama regime is no longer defending it. Perry, who I thought might have been a good POTUS candidate, blew it as far as I’m concerned.

    BTW, governors make much better presidents than Senators. Governors run governments; senators just legislate.

  • Kevin J Jones says:

    Several New York town clerks, all of them Republicans AFAIK, have resigned or have said they will probably resign because of the institution of SSM.

    I understand some Republicans have other priorities. But their fellow partisans are being purged from government in SSM states, thereby shrinking the party’s talent pool for future action. Perry can’t just stand on federalist principles and let his allies hang in the wind.

  • Perry killed any support he might have had from me in the primary. A concern for Federalism I think has nothing to do with whether what a state is doing is good or bad. It is too clever by half and it is dumb politics to boot in a Republican primary election cycle.

  • Mack says:

    Imagine a governor — or anyone — admitting that while he wouldn’t marry a bicycle himself, he has no objection if someone else does. Yet ten years ago the concept of matrimony between two persons of the same sex would have rightly been dismissed as a joke, but time and quiet, subtle, incessant propaganda make even the absurd seem, well, surd. Mr. Jagneaux is exactly right, and Governor Perry, whatever his many qualifications, has displayed a remarkable lack of moral core, and thus should not be in a position of authority.

  • Mary De Voe says:

    When two become one in covenant, marriage becomes a family. Same sex marriage is not possible in covenant or in physical reality. It is not same sex. Homosexual behavior is assault and battery. Persons cannot consent to a crime of assault and battery.

  • Paul Zummo says:

    Thanks for the comments. I think what bugged me about Santorum’s comments was less the substance and more what I perceived to be a regular pattern of how we discuss this issue. What he said was fine, but I don’t want us to to become over-reliant on that way of formulating the issue. Granted I might be nitpicking there.

    We seem pretty agreed on Perry. I’m not sure it’s a disqualifier in my books. It is apparent that “federalism uber alles” is his big theme. Normally I’m okay with that, but the concept of federalism doesn’t mean you abandon your moral compass.

  • Assorted and unrefined thoughts:

    1) I think Christians started losing the battle to defend the sacred institution of marriage as soon as they entrusted to government for licensing and regulation.
    2) A lot of ground was lost due to 1930 Anglican Lambeth Conference (which permitted Anglicans to use artificial birth control), the legal acceptance of no-fault divorces, and the acceptance of divorce and remarriage in general by Christians.
    3) With traditional marriage so poorly defended already, we look hypocritical when opposing gay “marriage”.
    4) From a legal standpoint, state recognition of gay unions is a matter of equal protection under the law. Thus, Santorum’s tweet is partially a non sequitur. Polygamy is indeed an obvious logical extension of equal protection arguments, but such equal protection makes denying heterosexual the right to marry completely nonsensical.
    5) The Church, and Christians in general, should never accept homosexual behavior as anything but gravely sinful, but defining and regulating is not a proper function of the State.

  • The State has been regulating marriage from the days of Sumer. Until today mankind was never absurd enough to dream of homosexual marriage. The one constant of marriage was that it was between men and women. Now that is all being done away with so that a small group of people ensnared by a serious sin can receive validation from society at large. Perhaps historians will call our age The Silly Season.

  • Joe Green says:

    You can’t win the marriage argument by playing defense only. That’s the problem with the whole “debate” over so-called gay marriage. It’s been given cachet by the media, putting it on a plane of being just another lifestyle.

    Traditional marriage needs no defense. It has stood for milennia as the norm of human behavior. Instead, the so-called gay agenda and all its insidious and evil impacts should be assailed by all who value what is right. Moral arguments may not succeed where legal arguments hold more sway in a secular society but they are stronger and more persuasive to those willing to examine their consciences.

  • “Moral arguments may not succeed where legal arguments hold more sway in a secular society but they are stronger and more persuasive to those willing to examine their consciences.”

    Moral arguments are always the strongest arguments long term Joe. You are absolutely correct on that.

  • Kevin J Jones says:

    If a candidate says something questionable early in the race, isn’t that the perfect time to write him letters asking him to correct his stand? Simply not voting for him won’t send the message, and won’t change the debate in helpful ways.

    The media and other actors obviously have an interest in making GOP opposition to SSM look as weak as possible, so that it will become as weak as possible.

  • “Eric, defining and regulating is the most salient thing the state does. Always and everywhere.”

    1) I accidentally left out the word “marriage” after “defining and regulating”. Oops. ;)
    2) The State should define nothing. Rights are natural and inalienable; they do not flow from the State. All the state ought to be allowed to do is acknowledge and defend them.
    3) Regulation is only justifiable when life, liberty, or property of one person is threatened by the actions of another.

  • So, now Perry has said that deciding abortion on a state-by-state basis is okay.

    I understand that Perry supports and defends traditional marriage and the right to life in the State of Texas, and that he’s personally committed to both of the causes, not just out of political expediency.

    I also understand that he sincerely believes that – as it stands today – the Constitution requires that states get to decide these issues for themselves.

    However, he really needs to follow up these statements of his with something like, “This such an important issue that I will actively pursue constitutional amendments to defend traditional marriage and the right to life.”

    Without saying *something* like that, it sounds to me as though he’s happy to have states do whatever they want on these issues. That’s not acceptable to me.

    Kevin J Jones, you are probably right. If I am interested in having him move in the direction I’d like to see him go, I probably should let him know. (As great as TAC is) I doubt that Rick Perry spends much time browsing the articles and comments here. — But maybe I’ll include a link here in my letter to him :grin:

  • Okay, I’ll take the credit: One week after I call the Rick Perry for President hotline, he goes public on CBN, saying that he supports a Constitutional amendment for traditional marriage and against abortion. For what it’s worth.

    Now, I guess I need to call Pizza Hut about that “Free Pizza on Saturdays” idea I like to see happen. :)

Follow TAC by Clicking on the Buttons Below
Bookmark and Share
Subscribe by eMail

Enter your email:

Recent Comments
Archives
Our Visitors. . .
Our Subscribers. . .