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CPAC Panelist Claims That No State Has Ever Banned Same-Sex Marriage

Facepalm

Michael Medved, a movie critic who has made a second career for himself as a right-wing bomb thrower, said something rather odd during a panel discussion at CPAC today:

Conservative radio host Michael Medved said Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference that no state has ever banned gay marriage and any claim to the contrary is “a liberal lie.”

“There has never been a state in this country that has ever banned gay marriage,” Medved said during a panel titled “Can Libertarians and Social Conservatives Ever Get Along?” after another panelist referenced historical discrimination against LGBT couples. “That is a liberal lie.”

Just to respond to Medved’s claim, here’s the language from Virginia’s Marshall-Newman Amendment, which was recently declared unconstitutional:

Only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid in or recognized by this Commonwealth and its political subdivisions. This Commonwealth and its political subdivisions shall not create or recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance, or effects of marriage. Nor shall this Commonwealth or its political subdivisions create or recognize another union, partnership, or other legal status to which is assigned the rights, benefits, obligations, qualities, or effects of marriage.

And here’s North Carolina’s Amendment 1, the most recently passed initiative on the issue of marriage:

Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State. This section does not prohibit a private party from entering into contracts with another private party; nor does this section prohibit courts from adjudicating the rights of private parties pursuant to such contracts.

If those aren’t bans on same-sex marriage, I don’t know what is. It makes me wonder what they’re putting in the water at CPAC

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. I assumed he was using the old wingnut strawman argument of: “Gays aren’t prohibited from marrying, they just have to enter into a heterosexual marriage!!1!”

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 1

  2. michael reynolds says:

    They’re beginning the pivot which ends in claims that they’ve always loved Teh Gays and it was really Democrats who opposed equality for blacks. Er, women. I mean gays.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 42 Thumb down 1

  3. gVOR08 says:

    @michael reynolds: I figure about ten years tops until the GOPs are bemoaning Obama’s rejection of their offer of bipartisan action on global warming.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 30 Thumb down 0

  4. Moosebreath says:

    Don’t worry, he’ll never receive the scorn he deserves. The so-called liberal media will duly report it as both sides disagreeing on the shape of the earth.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  5. reid says:

    You’re going to be very busy if you report on all of the odd things said at CPAC….

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 0

  6. Tom Hilton says:

    I can’t for the life of me figure out what he’s trying to say. It’s so ludicrously false on its face that I keep thinking he must have some [ironicairquotes]clever[/ironicairquotes] semantic dodge according to which what he said was technically correct…but if so, damned if I know what it was.

    On the other hand, his opinions about movies are often equally ludicrous. So, there’s that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  7. PD Shaw says:

    There is a difference between being banned and being recognized. States used to ban interracial marriage. The Supreme Court case of Loving v. Virginia was an appeal of a sentence to one year in jail as a result of the Lovings “violating Virginia’s ban on interracial marriages.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 8

  8. Facebones says:

    Well, technically neither of the bills quoted mentioned gays or lesbians. So, technically, they didn’t ban gay marriage, they just affirmed “traditional marriage.”

    You know, just like the anti-gay law in Arizona wasn’t AT ALL about legalizing discrimination. Just affirming “religious expression.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  9. Pinky says:

    I could only find a little bit of context online:

    “…The issue here is religious liberty. But the kind of religious liberty that has been infringed upon for decades over…in recent memory has been the liberty of those religious institutions and practices that support same-sex marriage. The government has prohibited them from engaging in the religion and the religious practices that they want.”

    “Where…where…no prohibition…there has never been a state in this country that has ever banned gay marriage. That’s a liberal lie. Defining marriage as between…”

    “There is state-sponsored discrimination against various associations between individuals. We’re talking about the denial of basic rights and privileges of individuals in committed relationships, the only difference being their sexual orientation.”

    If Medved was saying that government has never prohibited religious institutions from conducting and recognizing gay marriage, he’s right.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 10

  10. al-Ameda says:

    @Pinky:

    There is state-sponsored discrimination against various associations between individuals. We’re talking about the denial of basic rights and privileges of individuals in committed relationships, the only difference being their sexual orientation.

    Well It seems to me that there is a very big problem with equal protection under the law.

    Same sex married couples realize many tax and benefit advantages that are not available to gay partners if states act to legally define marriage to exclude same-sex marriages. Financially, such a definition, de-facto, has some of the same effects as a ban, and clearly violates equal protection provisions in the constitution.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  11. labman57 says:

    Further evidence that CPAC exists in a parallel universe.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  12. Pinky says:

    @al-Ameda: Sorry if I didn’t make that clear. The first quotation was from the other speaker; the second, from Medved; the third, from the other speaker.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  13. Woody says:

    Well, I guess the answer to Whatever Really Happened To the Class of ’65? was that some of them took up paint huffing in retirement.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  14. superdestroyer says:

    I guess it is the time of the year where the media obsesses about the totally irrelevant CPAC.
    The real question is who cares what totally irrelevant Republicans are saying at CPAC. Does anyone at that concention have any real influence over policy and governance in the U.S.

    And once again, when was the last time that the MSM reported on any left of center conference? Do such conferences not really exist or is the media have zero interest in reporting on what progressives and liberals say when they have conferences. At least if the media reported on the left, they would be reporting on groups that acutally have control over policy and governance in the U.S.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 7

  15. superdestroyer says:

    @gVOR08:

    Do you really think that anyone will consider the Republicans relevant in 10 years. If comprehensive immigration reform passes before then, I doubt if even whatever MSNBC resembles then will be able to force itself to act like the Republicans are relevant.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 5

  16. Tillman says:

    @superdestroyer:

    Do such conferences not really exist or is the media have zero interest in reporting on what progressives and liberals say when they have conferences.

    They exist, but the people who attend them don’t usually hold high political office. Also, they are boring.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  17. Barry says:

    @gVOR08: “@michael reynolds: I figure about ten years tops until the GOPs are bemoaning Obama’s rejection of their offer of bipartisan action on global warming.”

    No, that one will hold until the oil and coal companies run out of money.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  18. Brainster says:

    I find the effort to gin up controversy over this statement ludicrous. Doug, what state has banned gay marriage?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 7

  19. matt bernius says:

    @Pinky:
    Thanks for the added context. Can you share the link it came from?

    If Medved was saying that government has never prohibited religious institutions from conducting and recognizing gay marriage, he’s right.

    That seems like a pretty convoluted interpretation, if his actual quote was:

    “Where…where…no prohibition…there has never been a state in this country that has ever banned gay marriage. That’s a liberal lie. Defining marriage as between…
    [emphasis mine - mb]

    It appears that he was cut off by the other speaker, but it sure looks as if his argument was going to be “Defining marriage as between… [a man and a woman is not the same as banning gay marriage]”

    This argument, of course, relies on a rather strict legal interpretation of “banning” as PD points out. It also misses the fact that marriage is itself a state institution (i.e. one can only be legally married if the state recognizes it), and so defining marriage as *only* between a man and a woman, essentially “bans” (in the colloquial sense) gay marriages. In other words, the state will not issue a license for such a union (and I have to wonder what would happen to any county clerk who issued a license).

    And for the record, certain states, like Florida, explicitly say that same sex marriages are not to be recognized in the statue that predates the constitutional amendment ratified in 2004:

    (1) Marriages between persons of the same sex entered into in any jurisdiction, whether within or outside the State of Florida, the United States, or any other jurisdiction, either domestic or foreign, or any other place or location, or relationships between persons of the same sex which are treated as marriages in any jurisdiction, whether within or outside the State of Florida, the United States, or any other jurisdiction, either domestic or foreign, or any other place or location, are not recognized for any purpose in this state.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  20. matt bernius says:

    @Brainster:

    Doug, what state has banned gay marriage?

    Defined banned.

    Then we can have this conversation.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  21. Tillman says:

    I was around for the Amendment One drive here in NC, and if that wasn’t banning gay marriage, you’ll have to explain it to the two million or so who voted for it. That’s what they were voting for. They didn’t have any illusions about it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  22. CD Brooks says:

    CPAC, WOW! Talk about a “den of inequity!” How can such a large collection of fools be so of touch with reality? The cast of characters is a compilation of the absolute worst politicians to be found anywhere in the word. As decent human beings, some of you might recognize these folks as a living, breathing representation of everything that is wrong in America. In case you missed it, there were nearly riots in the streets over their support of legal discrimination. A MAJORITY of good clear thinking Americans didn’t want that garbage forced upon them and they said so… loudly. This freak show continues to gain snowball-like momentum into oblivion with their archaic evil-speak. Good riddance to this group of monsters. And thanks to them for making people wake up and learn there are dangerous people in politics that will hurt you, your family and friends not only with faulty logic, but in the name of their god.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  23. mattbernius says:

    BTW, I hope every appreciates the “technically Medved’s statement is ‘true'” argument relies on the same weasel-word logic as Bill Clinton’s famed “it all depends on how you define ‘sex'” defense. From Wikipedia:

    During the deposition, Clinton was asked “Have you ever had sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky, as that term is defined in Deposition Exhibit 1?” The judge ordered that Clinton be given an opportunity to review the agreed definition. Afterwards, based on the definition created by the Independent Counsel’s Office, Clinton answered “I have never had sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky.” Clinton later stated, “I thought the definition included any activity by [me], where [I] was the actor and came in contact with those parts of the bodies” which had been explicitly listed (and “with an intent to gratify or arouse the sexual desire of any person”). In other words, Clinton denied that he had ever contacted Lewinsky’s “genitalia, anus, groin, breast, inner thigh, or buttocks”, and effectively claimed that the agreed-upon definition of “sexual relations” included giving oral sex but excluded receiving oral sex.

    [source:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lewinsky_scandal

    So yes, if you define ban narrowly as “make [x] activity illegal and punishable” no state has banned gay marriage. However if you accept that ban includes ensuring that no one can be legally married to another member of the same sex, then the argument is absurd.

    And for the record, a religious marriage is *not* a legal marriage.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  24. Tillman says:

    @superdestroyer: Josh Marshall at TPM has a way better explanation for why CPAC gets so much attention than I gave.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  25. superdestroyer says:

    @Tillman:

    the TPM article mentions indirectly that CPAC is a way for the MSM to be outraged about conservatives. Thus, the left leaning media has a reason to intensely cover CPAC that Fox News (who seems to spend zero dollars outside of DC or NYC) just cannot be bothered to do. It is the same that the left leaning media covers the NRA national convention but Fox cannot be bothered to cover the conventions of NAACP or La Raza, or the Modern Language Association.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  26. Vast Variety says:

    CPAC = Crazy Pathetic Ageing Caucasians.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  27. Pinky says:

    @matt bernius: I just transcribed it from a video clip. I don’t recall where from – there are several clips out there, but I used the one I found that had the most context.

    I figured the same thing you did, that he was going to say that defining marriage between a man and a woman wasn’t the same thing as banning gay marriage. Given what he objected to, which was the prior statement that government was interfering with churches’ practices, I think his point was that defining civil marriage as between a man and a woman doesn’t interfere with a religion’s recognition of a SSM. Also noteworthy was Medved’s body language at the other guy’s reply, which seemed to say, “granted”.

    I’d still rather have 5+ minutes either side to know exactly what Medved was saying.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  28. grumpy realist says:

    @Pinky: Why bother? Right-wing shock jock says something silly. Film at 11.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  29. superdestroyer says:

    @grumpy realist: The left plans on using the inane comments of rightright shock jocks in the future to laugh their periodic two-minute hates. It is part of the strategy to ensure that the dominant Democratic Party remains in power no matter what.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  30. Lenoxus says:

    superdestroyer’s argument is just a step away from “right-wing nuts are actually Deep Cover Liberals”, only it’s merely the media’s provision of a megaphone that qualifies as some kind of insidious method of making conservatism look bad.

    Tillman’s point that actual Republican holders of high office go to these things is quite significant. There basically is no annual Democratic Death Spiral to see who can out-crazy everyone else, so there’s nothing for the “liberal media” to cover.

    Perhaps that is unfair, and there should be more of an effort to goad Democratic politicians into claiming stuff like, I don’t know, “Healthcare.gov was a unqualified success! Best website ever!” or “Guns have never, ever been used in self-defense!” or “All the Trump Towers were built by time-traveling ancient Aztecs! The conservative establishment is suppressing it!”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0