They Asked, He Answered

Sen. Joe Manchin told local youths Wednesday government is “getting bogged down” by social issues, and resolutions to these matters must come from the courts, not lawmakers.

Manchin, D-W.Va., spoke via Skype on Wednesday with selected sixth, seventh and eighth grade students at Triadelphia Middle School, answering their questions pertaining to the legalization of marijuana, same sex marriage and other topics.

Manchin began his thoughts on same-sex marriage by saying he firmly believed their should be no discrimination in the workplace on the basis of race, sex, religion or sexual orientation.

“That said, the issue of same sex marriage will be decided in the courts, not by legislative process,” he said. “The courts will decide state by state … and what will be will be. If you are asking me as an individual, I believe a marriage is between a man and a woman. I don’t judge or pass judgment on anybody on their sexual preference – nor I believe I should … In no way would I discriminate against anybody or judge anybody. And in no way is my opinion going to change what the court is going to rule on.”

On another topic, Manchin said he “absolutely” does not think West Virginia should legalize marijuana.

“I’ve spoken to some of the legislators out in Colorado, in Washington, and they are having all kinds of problems,” he said. “They don’t know how to (deal with) it. They tell me everyone is using it. It’s just awful.”

While a motorist can be arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol, it is technically not a crime to smoke marijuana while driving in states where marijuana use is legal, according to Manchin.

“Those limits haven’t been set,” he said. “Think of all the ramifications that are coming. … How can we tell you ‘you shouldn’t smoke,’ that smoking is bad for you, and then we legalize this? It doesn’t make sense, does it?”

Manchin said politicians too often espouse the opinions they think voters want to hear, and this is politically polarizing the nation.

“We seem to be getting bogged down in all the social issues which are really not going to change who we are and what we think,” he said. “I am not going to change your opinions … no matter how I vote, you’re going to personally believe what you think is right.”

The public, though, is more willing to accept court rulings on social matters than they are any kind of legislation, Manchin said.

Alex Puskarich, an eighth-grade student, said he found Manchin “very nice” and “very interesting.”

“I was very impressed by him,” Puskarich said. “We shared some of the same opinions.”

But Jacob McPhail, a seventh grade student, believed Manchin’s comments regarding same sex marriage to be contradictory.

“He said he is all for people not being discriminated against in the work place,” McPhail said. “But marriage is a legal agreement. To discriminate against same sex marriage is legal discrimination.”