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Wednesday, February 25, 2004


Why is everyone reacting so strongly to the president's announcement he wants to write anti-gay discrimination into the US Constitution? There have been signs for a while that he would go this direction. Some people have been claiming the White House didn't want to take this stand, but I would argue that they're doing exactly what they've done in most policy areas: pleasing the base, in this case the wacko religious conservatives.

Shockingly, I happen to disagree with Bush's stated reasons for supporting an amendment. He acknowledges that the Defense of Marriage Act prevents one state's decision to allow gay marriages from imposing on the other states via the "full faith and credit" clause, but still he argues that DoMA could be overturned:

Yet there is no assurance that the Defense of Marriage Act will not, itself, be struck down by activist courts. In that event, every state would be forced to recognize any relationship that judges in Boston or officials in San Francisco choose to call a marriage. Furthermore, even if the Defense of Marriage Act is upheld, the law does not protect marriage within any state or city.

It's silly to preempt a decision striking down DoMA when the law hasn't even been challenged in the courts yet. Even if it were, the Supreme Court would be very likely to uphold it, and only if it were struck down, then I could see some rationale for people who oppose that ruling pushing for an amendment to reverse the result. As for disputes within states and cities, those matters should be left to state and local officials--remember federalism? Bush's whole argument is a ridiculous smoke screen for what is simply a policy of discrimination against homosexual citizens, denying them equal rights under the law.

I am also quite disappointed with the statements out today from both the Kerry and Edwards campaigns. Both are very similar, claiming Bush is playing politics with the Constitution in order to change the conversation away from the weak economy, etc. While that is all true, I was sad that neither candidate bothers to mention the obvious objection here, that Bush is discriminating against gays. Since when is advocating for tolerance of everyone a political position that Democrats have to shy away from? Kerry and Edwards get low marks for their lack of political courage today on this issue. Edwards even begins his statement, "I oppose gay marriage," just to make that clear. In effect he's saying, "I'm no homo lover" as a disclaimer right off the top.

Finally, Andrew Sullivan has had tons of angry responses to Bush's announcement on his site all day (this seems to be the major post, though he has several others related). While he's eloquent in making the argument, I have difficulty understanding these people who have been backing Bush and are suddenly taken aback by him supporting a ban on gay marriage. Did they somehow get the mistaken impression that Bush was a great crusader for people's rights? Maybe they had that idea based on Bush sending poor defendants with inadequate legal representation to die while governor of Texas, or perhaps they were confused by the appointment of renowned progressive John Ashcroft as attorney general. To put this bluntly: if you're a gay rights supporter who has backed George Bush thus far, you're a moron. Congratulations on seeing the light.