February 21, 2012

Gay Marriage Roundtable: A Recap

By: Zachary Graves

AFF’s February roundtable put together panelists on both sides of the gay marriage debate and asked them to contend with the question, “What is the role of the federal government in marriage?”

Jason Kuznicki, Cato Institute research fellow and editor of Cato Unbound, nicely articulated a strict constitutional answer to this question, pointing out that nowhere in the Constitution is the word marriage mentioned. Therefore, Kuznicki argues, the federal government has no role whatsoever in marriage, gay or otherwise; the matter should be left to the states.

In order to justify a federal role in marriage, Kuznicki says, conservatives have to cede to progressives their fanciful view of the Constitution as a flexible document, and give up the idea that the Framers intended a federal government with limited and enumerated powers.

Thomas Peters, cultural director at the National Organization for Marriage, argues that “the purpose of marriage is to attach mothers and fathers to their children and one another,” and that gay marriage fails to achieve this purpose.

Peters continues that the federal government should be in the “marriage business” because it serves the public good. Defining marriage as between one man and one woman, he argues, is “key to protecting the best interests of children.”

Henry Potrykus from the Family Research Council and Matthew Bechstein from GOProud also weigh in on the issue. You can see their responses and more video clips taken by AFFer Bruce Majors on his blog. Full disclosure: I also work for Cato.