John Thune is following standard GOP tricks. He is using the federal marriage amendment as a bogeyman to try and bash Tom Daschle, using statements that are disingenuous at best. According to a local TV outlet, Thune says Daschle should vote for the amendment to “protect South Dakotans from being forced to accept gay marriage. That’s a crock.
Neither federal law nor the US Constitution governs (nor should they) whether a particular state recognizes a particular marriage. The federal amendment would define marriage to be only a union between a man and a woman. South Dakotans don’t need to be protected by that defintion. State law already defines marriage as being “between a man and woman.” Moreover, why should South Dakotans care if Massachusetts or any other state wants to recognize gay marriages? Another South Dakota law specifically provides that South Dakota will recognize as valid any marriage from outside the state “except a marriage contracted between two persons of the same gender.” What any other state does, then, has no effect on a South Dakotan.
Gay marriage is a bogeyman in this so-called debate. Adoption or rejection of the amendment will effect no change in South Dakota or upon South Dakotans. Instead, the issue is the idiocy of amending the federal constitution to legislate in an area that is the subject of state law and which states are fully capable of handling as each sees fit.