Bob Barr Recants DOMA Very Publicly, A Couple of Months After Two Relevant Votes


That is, the one for him for president, and the one where the state in which his op-ed appears, California, voted to bar gay marriage.

Libertarian Party candidate Barr was not well-loved by many party members for writing the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act, which Barr disavows in the Los Angeles Times with some of these words. (This is not the first time he's said he regrets DOMA. But it is the first time he did so in a piece written by him in a major newspaper. It might have been politically smarter to write and try to get prominent placement for this piece in late October.)

I've….come to the conclusion that DOMA is not working out as planned. In testifying before Congress against a federal marriage amendment, and more recently while making my case to skeptical Libertarians as to why I was worthy of their support as their party's presidential nominee, I have concluded that DOMA is neither meeting the principles of federalism it was supposed to, nor is its impact limited to federal law.

In effect, DOMA's language reflects one-way federalism: It protects only those states that don't want to accept a same-sex marriage granted by another state. Moreover, the heterosexual definition of marriage for purposes of federal laws—including, immigration, Social Security survivor rights and veteran's benefits—has become a de facto club used to limit, if not thwart, the ability of a state to choose to recognize same-sex unions.

Even more so now than in 1996, I believe we need to reduce federal power over the lives of the citizenry and over the prerogatives of the states. It truly is time to get the federal government out of the marriage business. In law and policy, such decisions should be left to the people themselves.

Reason magazine ran a cover feature interview with candidate Barr in our November 2008 issue. Reason.com did a post-election chat with him in late November.