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February 5, 2005

Defense of Marriage '05

Posted by Phil on February 5, 2005 7:58 AM

What with the recent hubbub about supposed cartoon proxies for the gay-rights movement being pilloried for their expressions of tolerance and inclusion, and the bully president calling once again for the denial of civil rights to a group of our citizens, I've been thinking about this post from last year--and, lo and behold, here it pops up in our On This Day column.

It was one year ago today, during the second Bush's first term--an era we had hoped to have said goodbye to by now. Instead, since this post is, sadly, still every bit as relevant, here's an encore posting--but with updated starter links. After all, bigotry never sleeps!

Posted February 5, 2004:

If this discriminatory amendment is ever tacked onto the U.S. Constitution, I think I'll talk to my wife about turning our marriage into a civil union, because at that point whatever "sanctity" marriage holds will be gone. It will no longer be a framework within which I'll wish to honor her or raise our child.

Why, in the year 2004, is the President of the United States talking about supporting a Constitutional amendment abridging the civil rights of people simply for being as God or Nature created them? This is fundamentally wrong, affecting principles far more significant than simply the right of persons of the same sex to marry.

Let's be very clear: Homosexuality is a naturally occurring orientation. People who don't believe that are mistaken. Why should this country's agenda reflect the ignorance and bigotry of its most backward, narrow-minded citizens?

Why are these people so blind to the fact that the more inclusive they make the institution of marriage, the stronger and more "sanctified" it will be--along with our families, our communities, and our country?

Why must we tiptoe around their delicate sensibilities, sexual squeamishness, and primitive morality while they trample and abrogate the privacy and civil rights of others?

I hope that whoever takes up our side of this debate--i.e., the Democratic nominee--is able to strike the right note of authority and patronization that will gently convince the supporters of such an amendment that they are wrong. These meaningless wedge issues make me furious.

"Tonight I call for this Congress to pass a law against people putting broomsticks up their asses."
"We wholeheartedly support the president's call for a law against people putting broomsticks up their asses!"
"With all due respect, with so many more pressing problems, it hardly seems necessary to legislate against people putting broomsticks up their asses."
"Senator, are you saying you're in FAVOR of people putting broomsticks up their asses?!"
"Certainly not; no reasonable person would advocate--"
"Then why do you oppose the No Broomsticks Up Your Ass Act?"
"I simply believe it's not--"

The irony of such an amendment is that its "positive" effects would only ever be symbolic. Would it lower divorce rates? Would it make fathers stay home? Would it make giddy teenagers or drunken adults less likely to leap before they look? Would it end abuse, adultery, or domestic indifference? No, because neither church nor state will ever perfect the formula that produces healthy, responsible individuals who grow up and get married at the right time, in their right mind, to the right person, for the right reasons. Some marriages work out, some don't, and the government can no more "sanctify" a marriage license than a driver's license.

Only in its negative impact would such an amendment be effective. Healthy, responsible individuals of a certain orientation would be prevented from entering, with society's blessing, the personal arrangement that many people agree is the one most likely--though of course not guaranteed--to produce healthy, responsible individuals. If marriage were walled off from such people--and that injustice was recognized by other, accepted people--it would become a mean, exclusive country club, a drinking fountain that says "Whites Only," and an ever-increasing number of people would leave it behind for good.

Straight moderates need to recognize that we have a stake in this fight and not be driven to the sidelines by the false moral certainty of a loud minority. Marriage will never be a perfect institution, but it deserves better than this. For that matter, so does America.