Jacob Sullum on Gay Marriage and Federalism



Bob Barr, the former Georgia congressman who wrote the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 1996, later apologized for it, saying it embodied "one-way federalism," protecting "only those states that don't want to accept a same-sex marriage granted by another state." Barr regretted that "the heterosexual definition of marriage for purposes of federal laws" became "a de facto club used to limit, if not thwart, the ability of a state to choose to recognize same-sex unions."

Conversely, says Jacob Sullum the 2013 Supreme Court decision overturning that provision of DOMA, while paying lip service to federalism, has led to a situation in which states are forced to recognize same-sex marriage. If there ever was a time when federalism was a viable approach to gay marriage, Sullum writes, that time has passed.