Federalism is supposed to be the safe-fail for the American government so that the American people are best represented and their best interests are upheld. The Constitution grants powers to both the state governments as well as the national government as the Founders could see the benefits for trying to stabilize a nation but not put the whole nation under the scrutiny of one power. With the powers being divided yet limitedly intertwined has caused quite a few national problems as of late with the largest one being on who gets to decide whether or not gays should be allowed to marry and be treated like a married couple.
The Constitution was written to uphold the rights of the citizens of the United States of America along with stating which parts of our government has the right the govern the citizens. With that being said, the Constitution is also purposely very vaguely written as the Founders knew that our nation was just forming and would be constantly changing. With the vague text along with the changing of the Nation over the past 300 plus years, many things that were deemed as right during the forming of our Nation have been changed and amended as well as now being deemed as illegal, such as slavery.
Slavery was to the 1800s as gay marriage is to the 2000s. Slavery used to be governed by the state and depending on what state you lived in determined the legality of it. The difference between slavery and gay marriage is a very significant one though. If you wanted to own slaves but your state said it was illegal prior to the civil war and the writing of the 13th Amendement, you could move to a different state that stated it was legal and purchase slaves and contuine to live your life.
However, with gay marriage as now one could choose to move to a state that recognizes it but no matter where you live in the country, the federal government will not recognize the marriage. According to Steve Chapman, “Under federal law, there are more than 1,100 rights and privileges that go with being a husband or wife. And none of them is available to married same-sex couples. ” (Chapman) Of the 1,100 rights, a few major ones are tax-free property transfer, joint income taxes and social security survivor benefits.
Until the federal government actually takes control as they did with slavery, the controversy of the issue of same sex issues is going to continue to grow within the states and actually cost the states more money on dealing with the legality issues in their courts. As The Essentials: American Government states “Many state constitutions are now believed by some to be on the whole more progressive…and many other matters than federal courts generally are.
” (Wilson, Dilulio Jr. and Bose) Knowing that the states are more progressive is the first start on the federal government moving on with this issue. Millions of tax dollars are spent every year in courts from city, state and even federal regarding legalities of gay marriages and if the federal government would step in and govern this issue, a lot of these tax dollars could be allotted to other areas of our government.
Now while states are starting to legalize and recognize gay marriages on their own, one can argue the fact that this is progress compared to where the nation was 50 years ago but the fact remains that without the federal government recognizes these marriages as legal, gay couples are still being held like slaves in the 1800s, second class citizens.
Works Cited Chapman, Steve. A Federalist Case for Gay Marriage. 27 April 2009. 24 Septemeber 2011 <http://reason. com/archives/2009/04/27/a-federalist-case-for-gay-marr>. Wilson, James Q, John J. Dilulio Jr. and Meena Bose. The Essentials: American Goverment. Boston: Cengage Learning, 2011.