In other words, gay marriage is an issue for the states to decide. But just in case they decide to allow gay marriage, he’d endorse a constitutional amendment to make it illegal.
Republicans are gearing up to make gay marriage and gay rights wedge issues on which to clobber Democrats. “This issue …will become the major domestic issue in the upcoming election," said Tony Perkins, President of the right-wing Family Research Council (not to be confused with the late -- and gay -- actor Tony Perkins) on ABC News.
The evolution of the United States has been to expand not diminish human rights. In issuing its decision making it illegal to ban same-sex marriage, the Massachusetts Supreme Court, harking back to the equal rights and protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, stated that “the core concept of common human dignity protected” by the U.S. Constitution, “precludes government intervention into the deeply personal realms of consensual adult expressions of intimacy and one’s choice of an intimate partner.”
Now for the purpose of partisan gain, Bush expresses a willingness to prohibit this constitutional protection and to diminish core concepts of individual rights and human dignity.
There are three arguments homophobes make:
1) Homosexuality is not sanctioned by religion. This, of course, is a lie. Some religions sanction it, others don’t. The Bible is said to condemn homosexuality, but the Bible also condemns killing and the Ten Commandments don’t allow an exception for a war of choice, like Bush’s war in Iraq. But religion is beside the point. The law is not concerned with religious marriage or what religions do or don’t believe. No church will have to host a same-sex marriage. The court decision refers to a civil ceremony. If heterosexual couples are entitled to the rights and protections of civil marriage, the constitution insists that same-sex couples have the equal right.
2) Gay marriage undermines heterosexual marriage. Homophobes actually have the chutzpah to make this argument! Yes, divorce rates are high. But heterosexual couples need to take responsibility for their own difficulties and stop scapegoating homosexuals because their marriages fail. How one couple’s marriage denigrates another couple’s marital relationship is a demagogic argument that rational beings should not make -- nor stoop to respond to.
3) The third argument is “tradition.” Slavery was a tradition as was racial apartheid, the divinity of kings, and burning people (many of them gay) as witches. We can live in the dark ages or we can celebrate a new definition of commitment and love. The “pursuit of happiness” after all, isn’t that one of the qualities our country is about?
Mr. Bush, I believe, knows all this. So do many leading Republicans. David Brock, the self-described “right-wing hit-man” and author of Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative, was socially accepted by Republican leaders in Washington -- even after he came out as a homosexual -- as long as he was digging up dirt on liberal icons. Only when he declared that his published attacks on Bill Clinton and Anita Hill were based on lies, did his Republican colleagues attack his sexual preference. The homophobia of religious fundamentalists, however ugly, is at least sincere. The constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage by worldly, power-wielding Republicans is simply cynical politics, which they won’t stop even if it hurts their own.
It’s no secret that Vice President Dick Cheney’s daughter, Mary Cheney, is a lesbian. Ms. Cheney, who at the time of the last election was living with her female partner in a Denver suburb once played a very public role as lesbian/gay corporate relations manager for Coors Brewing Company. The family that owned Coors had a reputation of racist, homophobic and anti-union right-wing politics. Cheney was hired to help change the company’s homophobic image, which she did. Cheers to Dick Cheney. I don’t much like his politics, but he has stood by his daughter and broken with his party on issues of gay rights. In a vice presidential debate in 2000, Cheney was asked by CNN’s Bernard Shaw, “Should a male who loves a male and a female who loves a female have all -- all -- the constitutional rights enjoyed by every American citizen?”
Cheney responded, “…I think that means that people should be free to enter into any kind of relationship they want to enter into. It's really no one else's business in terms of trying to regulate or prohibit behavior in that regard. I think the fact of the matter, of course, is that matter is regulated by the states. I think different states are likely to come to different conclusions and that's appropriate. I don't think there should necessarily be a federal policy in this area…. I think we ought to do everything we can to tolerate and accommodate whatever kind of relationships people want to enter into.”
When right-wing Republicans start attacking Democrats on the issues of gay marriage and gay rights, the Democrats have an easy response. “I agree with Vice President Cheney,” they should say. “I stand with Dick Cheney in supporting gay marriage and gay rights.”
Marty Jezer is a writer living in Brattleboro, Vermont. He welcomes comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.