In the interview, Perry and Perkins both try to make this sound as though it is the real states' rights position:
TONY PERKINS I think marriage and family policy is best dealt with at the state level. But the tenth amendment -- and I am a strong supporter. I fought the federal government on a number of issues when they were trying to force us to do things. But when you look at what's happening on marriage, the real fear is that states like New York will change the definition of marriage for Texas. At that point the states rights argument is lost.
GOV. PERRY Right and that is the reason that the federal marriage amendment is being offered, it's that small group of activist judges, and frankly a small handful, if you will, of states, and liberal special interests groups that intend on a redefinition of, if you will, 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 not to have marriage forced upon us by these activist judges and special interest groups.
Translation: We support the 10th amendment until the people of another state decide an issue in a way that affects us. As these men surely know, a state's drinking age, gambling laws, agricultural policies, drug laws, and many other policies besides affect its neighbors. Should all those issues be federalized too?
That's only the beginning of the wrongheadedness of that exchange. In New York, activist judges didn't pass gay marriage, the legislature did. Support for gay marriage in every state includes more straight people than gay people, so it's disingenuous to describe its enactment as being due to a special interest -- a lot of people regard equality in marriage as a matter of general interest. And state supreme courts, whatever the philosophy of the judges who sit on them, are legitimate parts of state governments, as laid out in their constitutions. Insofar as their rulings change state policy, that too comes under the rubric of states' rights.
Says Perry: "Our Constitution was designed to respect states including the amendment process. That is one of the beauties and why I talk about in my book Fed Up that we need as a nation to get back to really respecting our constitution and the tenth amendment in particular which allows the states to impede against each other, whether it is on taxes or regulations or litigation and create the economic environment."
Adds Perkins: "The only and thin line of protection for those states that have defined marriage, that have been historically been defined between a man and a woman. The support of a marriage amendment is a pro-state's rights position, because it will defend the rights of states to define marriage as it has been."
So now states' rights are defined as the right to be locked into the status quo, regardless of what your legislature or people want at any time in the future. That's absurd. And one wonders if they would also regard it as a victory for states' rights if, at some future date, the people of blue America passed a constitutional amendment forcing gay marriage on the states of Texas, Alabama and Mississippi.