Abraham Lincoln said it best.
As the drums of disunion began to drown out the softer melodies of comity and reason, Lincoln, a candidate for U.S. Senate, warned a convention of Illinois Republicans that the nation could not escape its moment of decision.
“A house divided against itself cannot stand,” he said in a celebrated 1858 speech. “I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or all the other.”
The showdown he foresaw came three years later, when the guns began to fire at Fort Sumter
Today we face another division of the house — and another looming showdown. This one will not be resolved with guns — the violence will be rhetorical — but it will be difficult, nonetheless.
We took a step toward the showdown last week when the IRS announced that married, same-sex couples will now be allowed to file joint federal tax returns, just as married opposite-sex couples do. Adam and Steve — or Keisha and Rose — will be entitled to all the federal exemptions and deductions marriage provides, even if they live in states that prohibit same-sex marriage. Washington will recognize their union, even if North Carolina does not.
You may think that is simply proof North Carolina and other recalcitrant states are on the wrong side of history — again — and will eventually and belatedly have to concede the fact. You’re right, except that it may not be as eventual and belated as you think.
Consider Article IV, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution, which reads, in part, as follows: “Full faith and credit shall be given in each state to the public acts, records and judicial proceedings of every other state.”