FLASHBACK—Barney Frank: ‘Government Has An Absolute Overriding Duty to Enforce Morality in Interpersonal Relations’

By CNSNews.com Staff | April 27, 2015 | 2:28 PM EDT

Rep. Barney Frank debating DOMA on House floor, July 12, 1996. (CSPAN/Screenshot)

(CNSNews.com) - On July 12, 1996, when the U.S. House of Representatives was debating the Defense of Marriage Act, Rep. Barney Frank (D.-Mass.), who opposed the act, argued that government did in fact have a duty to “enforce morality in interpersonal relations.”

DOMA, which was signed by President Bill Clinton, defined marriage for federal purposes as the legal union of one man and one woman. It also protected states from having to recognize same-sex marriages contracted in other states. Tomorrow, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges. In this case, the Obama administration is arguing, through the solicitor general's office, that the Constitution requires all states to recognize same-sex marriages.

"Yes, there is a role for morality in government. Of course there is," said Frank, during the DOMA debate. "The government has an absolute overriding duty to enforce morality in interpersonal relations."

Here is an excerpt from Franks’ speech on the House floor against DOMA:

No one has come forward and said, can you please arrange so that the Republican Party and the House of Representatives will express their approval of my lifestyle. That is not a request I have ever gotten nor expect to get.

What people have said is, can I regularize this relationship so we are le legally responsible for each other. Can I get to the point where if one of us gets very ill we will be protected in our ability to undertake financial responsibilities? Can we buy property jointly? Can we do the other things that people do? Can we decide that one will work and one might be in child rearing, there are people who have children in these relationships. That is what they are asking for.

What kind of an almost totalitarian notion is it to say that whatever the Government permits, it sanctions and approves? That is what is clear. Yes, there is a role for morality in Government. Of course there is. The Government has an absolute overriding duty to enforce morality in interpersonal relations.

We have a moral duty to protect innocent people from those who would impose on them. That is a very important moral duty.

The entirety of Franks speech, as published in the Congressional Record, can be read by clicking here.


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