George Bush announcing support for constitutional amendment
banning gay marriage (credit: Susan Walsh/AP)
I notice in the photo that George’s handlers chose the painting of Teddy Roosevelt charging up San Juan Hill as backdrop for his announcement. What does that imply–that George is “leading the charge” against gay marriage?? Hmmm.
The constitutional amendment endorsed yesterday by George Bush to “defend” the “institution” of marriage will go down as yet another insupportable, unnecessary and ultimately irrelevant attempt to write unwise social policy into law. Think of all the other previous attempts to add prejudicial political viewpoints to our Constitution: remember the flag burning amendment? At one time, this issue was so hot you could feel the flames miles outside the Beltway. Who remembers it today? Well, OK Tom DeLay remembers, but who else?
Even issues that might make some sense as amendments have been defeated in recent decades: the balanced budget amendment and the equal rights amendment. So how does Bush expect to succeed where so many worthier issues have failed?
The truth is he doesn’t expect to succeed nor will he. He’s bowing to political expediency. A President on the run in so many areas (Iraq, budget deficit, etc.) needs to shore up his shaky right-wing base. And what a simple, easy way to do it too!
What comforts me is that America’s young people overwhelmingly support both gay rights and gay marriage. They are the leaders of the future. And in 20 years this issue too will go the way of the flag buring amendment–into the dustheap of dead constitutional amendments.
By the way, I just loved Gary Bauer’s hysterical comments on gay marriage on Nightline last night (my quotations are paraphrases): “Once you allow gay marriage, what’s to prevent polygamy or four or five people marrying each other!!” Someone’s got to explain that one to me: how do you get from gay marriage to serial polygamy? Bauer’s clearly taking some kind of hysteria-enhancing drug.
Bauer also made the dubious claim that “no society in history has ever sanctioned gay marriage.” I know I’ve seen a TV program (can’t remember which) which noted that either an African or Latin American tribe pairs young males with older males in a sanctioned sexual relationship.
In the ancient world, slavery was an acceptable practice. In fact, slavery may have laid at the heart of the economic success and coherence of those societies. That was certainly the case in the pre-Civil War American South. I imagine that any society member who called for the abolition of slavery would have met the opporobrium of the majority who depended on the institution for their economic well-being. In fact, we know this was the case with the Abolitionists. Southerners claimed that the end of slavery meant their physical and material ruination. While abolition did mean the end of the antebellum South and its way of life, one could easily argue that the Civil War itself did far more damage to the South than the mere ending of slavery would have. And the South has survived quite well both the end of slavery and the Civil War.
Certainly, I’m not saying that slavery is like heterosexual marriage (though some formerly married folks might say it is), the point here is that there are many “sacred” and untouchable social institutions which are quite strong enough to adapt successfully to changed social conditions–and marriage is definitely one of them.
In his dissent against the Supreme Court ruling overturning anti-sodomy laws, Scalia too said that this would mean eventual legalization of gay marriage. That at least, while also hysterical, holds some sense for me. And indeed, I believe that once a broader social consensus exists within the nation in favor of gay marriage that the Court will do exactly what Scalia fears most.