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February 24, 2004

REIGNITING THE CULTURE WARS....It's official: George Bush has now endorsed a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. This has obviously been in the works since at least the State of the Union address and comes as no great surprise.

But while there are plenty of things to say about this — you can head over to Andrew Sullivan's site if you want to dive into the detail — the thing that strikes me most about today's announcement is that it's so blatantly political. I don't think that Bush himself is especially anti-gay, and I'm willing to bet that most of his advisors aren't either. This decision isn't one of principle but of careful political calculation.

And that calculation is this: the culture wars are good for Republicans. And not just in the background, but front and center, waved around like a bloody sheet. There are some pretty obvious risks to this strategy — why risk losing votes in the center, after all? — which means that Bush and his advisors must have made the calculation that they have no choice: they can't win unless the hardcore culture warriors are fighting mad and on their side.

I haven't thought through all the implications of this but wanted to toss it out half formed anyway while it was on my mind. Is reigniting the culture wars really a winning strategy for Bush? And why did he feel like he had to do it? I'll probably have more thoughts on this later.

UPDATE: I thought this was clear in my post, but maybe not. All I'm saying is that I suspect that Bush is not personally especially homophobic. Rather, he's supporting FMA mainly because he thinks it will help him win votes.

What's more, this is actually more despicable than if he were acting out of genuine conviction. To me, it looks like he's willing screw an entire class of people that he doesn't really care about just in order to win a few more votes. That's contemptible.

Posted by Kevin Drum at February 24, 2004 12:23 PM | TrackBack


Comments

why wouldn't you think that Bush and/or his advisors are anti-gay? I would hope that there is SOMETHING these folks do out of conviction.

Posted by: barry at February 24, 2004 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

There are over a hundred (mostly very good and interesting) comments on Roger Simon's blog.
They are worth reading for those who like intelligent discussion of issues instead of knee-jerk partisan woofing.

Posted by: Man United at February 24, 2004 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

One risk would be if it actually motivates young voters to register and vote against Bush.

Posted by: Jon H at February 24, 2004 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

Lordy, lordy, lordy, it's interesting watching Andrew Sullivan's head spin explode on this one. I actually feel sorry for the guy, because as much as he's a hack, he had real faith and trust in President Bush, and pooh-poohed those of us who knew the truth . . . his wakeup call must have REALLY sucked.

---JRC

Posted by: JRC at February 24, 2004 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

Why are you convinced that Bush is not particularly anti-gay himself? I suspect that he treats the issue of marriage with the same born-again Christian moral duality that he does with everything else. He may be mildly tolerant of gays he deals with, and his advisors may read Andrew Sullivan every day without a flinch of homophobic revulsion. But when push comes to shove, he doesn't think gays should be treated the same under the law. For all the political calculation involved, it seems a stance every bit sincere on his part.

Posted by: Chris in Boston at February 24, 2004 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

Yep, this was predictable from the start. Since Bush has absolutely NOTHING to run on he's going to make this the centerpiece of his campaign.

The gay faux turkey for all of his followers to rally around.

It's going to be an ugly, ugly eight months folks.

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus at February 24, 2004 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

I've been accused of having my liberal hat on too tightly for claiming this, but I'm firmly convinced that a culture war campaign spells doom for the GOP. The symbology is just too much on our side. Nick Confessore has a great post up at TAPPED about it right now. Everybody not on Pat Robertson's mailing list (and we'll never peel them off anyhow) sees this for exactly what it is: the Chewbacca defense.

Running with this supposedly wedge issue will only bring the Fred Phelps contingent out of the woodwork, and those popeyed lunatics scare people a hell of a lot more than this does.

Posted by: apostropher at February 24, 2004 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

yes, please, bring on the culture war.

Posted by: ChrisL at February 24, 2004 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

While I support equal rights for Gays - I believe that this is probably a bad time for this to happen, with fundamentalist extremism in the US at an all-time high.
Bush is right - he's got the congressional support in Congress to get this passed. A 28th Amendment codifying "God Hates Fags" seems very likely to me. And if that's what Congress wants, then so be it. Backlash be damned.

I'm supporting the actions of the Mayor of SF based on it's Constitutionality, and how prop 209 overrides 22. The Constitution has to trump the will of the people. That's how our government works. And when we have an Amendment 28 to the US Constitution - that's how it will work there too (despite the flawed logic in support of such an amendment).

That's not to say that Congress didn't make a terrible mistake by making an Amendment banning alchohol. We all know what happened there.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out after they get their amendment. I sure am glad I'm not gay.

Posted by: Occam's Cuisinart at February 24, 2004 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

Why feel bad for Sullivan? he's loving the exposure this is giving him:

HEADS UP: Tonight, I'll be on World News Tonight with Peter Jennings; and on CNN's Newsnight with Aaron Brown.

Posted by: sean at February 24, 2004 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

Well, don't be too hard on Duhbya for trying to start a culture war. It's all he has. He can't run on his record and he has no plans for the future, so what else can he do?

Posted by: grytpype pronounced grit-pipe at February 24, 2004 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

Occam's Cuisinart,
If they couldn't get a flag-burning amendment out the Senate, they don't stand a chance of getting this one out.

Posted by: apostropher at February 24, 2004 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

why are you giving Bush a pass on "being anti-gay"? what the hell does he have to do, round 'em up and shoot them? Damn, actions speak louder than words, but when you combine both you have irrefutable proof. Please GWB does not like homos.

Posted by: daudder at February 24, 2004 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

and i'm sure he'll still find a way to rationalize a vote for Bush. this quote from "Airplane!" sums up my feelings for poor Andrew:

"...they bought their tickets. They knew what they were getting into. I say let them crash."

Posted by: sean at February 24, 2004 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

As I wrote to Andrew earlier (and, as such, any other gays who support(ed) Bush):

Why are any of you surprised that Bush would do this? It's as if you don't know who he's kowtowing to. You're reaped the whirlwind by supporting Bush in the first place and that lessens the pity I feel for gays on this issue. You bought into his "compassionate conservative" nonsense and now we effectively live in a police state. Think about it: We have an Attorney General who wants to pry into women's medical records (and has succeeding in doing so). Policy is created not based on facts, but based on ideology. How could you be so foolish as to ignore part of their ideology? Did you think it would go away? Bush needs to energize his base and this is how he's doing it. You've been cast to the wolves. I'll fight him any way I can; but remember: You helped put him into the job in the first place.

Posted by: Jeffrey L. Seltzer at February 24, 2004 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

One of the sadder things about this is that many people will believe the amendmant's supporters who say that the second half of the text means the exact opposite of what the English clearly says and will then shrug their shoulders thinking that it's not too bad.

Posted by: M. Tullius at February 24, 2004 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

I like the comment scotty gave this morning in answer to the question "when did the president make his decision to support an amendment?"
Scotty;"He made it this morning."

What a crock!Another lie by the christian coalition hijacked White hose.I cant believe people still buy the B.S. comming from the mouths of these bigots.

Posted by: smalfish at February 24, 2004 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, Ruy Texeira has been running a series of posts over the last few weeks in which he has documented that the independent voters are currently strongly trending away from bush (yes, we all know this is february!).

The last i think it was newsweek poll (but maybe it was someone else), showed bush with 43% likely to vote for, but with 85% or so of those rock-solid Bush voters.

That's his basic 35% coming into November. If the independents are trending away, he's going to have to pick up the other 15% (or more precisely, pick up the electoral votes he needs in the key states) from somewhere, and that somewhere has to be the hardcore culture values base. He can't afford to lose any of them, and then he can hope that conditions - on the job front, in iraq, in the capture of osama bin laden - rebound in his favor in the coming month, and he regains some support among indepedents.

But at the moment, securing the base seems like the only choice he and rove have....

Posted by: howard at February 24, 2004 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

Here is why it makes Bush look good:

1. Everyone aleady thinks that Bush is a conservative right-winger. By opposing gay marriage, he's simply doing what everyone expects of him. No one (other than, sadly, Andrew Sullivan and maybe a few hardcore libertarians) will be shocked, surprised, and outraged by this decision.

2. The real genius in Bush's strategy is how Kerry will be forced to react to it. Kerry will have to (a) come out in favor of civil unions, which will make it that much easier to portray him as an extremist liberal who is out of touch with ordiary Americans. However, he'll also have to (b) pretend that he is opposed to gay marriage. This will make him look like a duplicitous politician with his finger in the wind.

At a debate, when someone raises the question of gay marriage, Bush can flatly say "I am opposed to it," but that we should all have compassion for gay Americans, etc.

Kerry, on the other hand, will be forced into the "me, too, but..." position. He'll say "I too oppose gay marriage, but I support civil unions," which everyone knows mean gay marriage. This will make him look like a duplicitious politician who isn't willing to come right out and say what he really means, namely that he supports gay marraige.

Kevin is right, this will be a fairly minor issue in the upcoming campaign. But Bush appears to be playing it just right.

Posted by: Joe Schmoe at February 24, 2004 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

Does Bush want the NYC convention site to be surrounded by a sea of angry gays (and the 9/11 victims' families)? If he wants to push this, my sense is that things will become violent, and the taint of cultural extremism is going to stick to him.

Posted by: Bob H at February 24, 2004 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

Andrew is an extraordinary spokesman for this cause. Give him the biggest, loudest microphone you can find...his passion and conviction, coming from a (psuedo) conservative in particular, is just what Bush DOESN'T need. If you missed "M is for Marriage", its a must read on his website.

Posted by: Daisy at February 24, 2004 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

By endorsing the anti-gay constitutional amendment, Bush has repudiated his very effective 2000 electoral strategy of pretending to be a moderate, of fudging the policy differences between the Republicans and the Democrats, so as to make the election about his (supposedly) likeable personality versus Gore's (supposedly) disagreeable one. In 2000, the far right had to take it on faith (no pun intended) that Bush was on their side, feeding off the coded messages he sent them (bits of hymns embedded in his stump speech for example).

Now, that is all out the window. It can't be President Genial against the far-left, waffling, anti-patriot with policy differences completely excluded from the debate. It's Mr. Redmeat Conservative against . . . who? That has become the key question. Bush has been forced to define himself in very starkly partisan terms. If Kerry has any political skill at all, and manages to define himself in a way that appeals to the Middle as well as the Far Left (which should be very possible given Kerry's generally moderate views), he'll win.

Here's hoping.

Posted by: charlie robb at February 24, 2004 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

And also, though this is only a gut feeling, I think loud vicious partisan campaigns drive away independents and moderates.

The Bushies may believe this coming shoutfest depresses turnout among non-Bush voters.

Posted by: bob mcmanus at February 24, 2004 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

Hey NASCAR fans with no jobs! Look! Homos!

Posted by: praktike at February 24, 2004 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin's got a good point here. Bush's dithering on the subject until today probably suggests that, like Reagan, he would much prefer that the "gay" issue just not be raised in polite company. But this represents a fundamental shift in his reelection campaign. Rove has done the math and decided that while they can forego the "dynamic center", they can't afford to lose the Christian Right. I think Dobson, Colson, Falwell, et al. laid it on the line: either he endorses the FMA or we stay home in November. With the economy the way it is and Kerry's star on the rise, they've crossed the Rubicon today. Bush will run on the religious right's platform. Oh well. Memo to the Crawford, TX "Welcome Home W" planning committee: date has been moved from Jan. 2009 to Jan. 2005.

Posted by: John at February 24, 2004 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

Apostropher is right -- Bush's real challenge will be to keep the bible-thumpers out of the spotlight. They scare people. If we start seeing the Ashcroft types on the Sunday shows, this gambit could backfire.

On the other hand, the gay marriage advocates have not done a very good job at coming up with photogenic spokespeople for gay marriage. It's the usual crew of fat middle-aged lesbians with ugly glasses and short haircuts getting married all by themselves. What they really need is photo ops with smiling, clean-cut gay people surrounded by members of their loving extended family, including grandma, etc.

Posted by: Joe Schmoe at February 24, 2004 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

"culture values base"

More like vulture calous base

Posted by: smalfish at February 24, 2004 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

does this mean that bush is dropping cheney, whose daughter must be acutely embarrassed by this deeply political gesture?

Posted by: mateo at February 24, 2004 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

I think it should be noted that if your thesis is correct, it's even worse than if they were sincere homophobes. And, most importantly, it has to be emphaszied that this is an internal attack on American constitutionalism. It's rather remarkable to come up with something that attacks both equal protection and federalism, but he's managed to pull it off.

Can we now safely say that the Totten/Simon/Kaus crowd of "even-the" liberals are among the most gullible fools in the history of American suckerdom? When you've been a Bush apologist for longer than Andrew Sullivan, it's reached a really pathetic level. Actually, I think Tom Tomorrow's designation is even better:

http://www.workingforchange.com/comic.cfm?itemid=16482

Posted by: Scott at February 24, 2004 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

www.lawandpolitics.blogspot.com has more (his comments I comment on at www.downwithbush.blogspot.com).

Posted by: Justin at February 24, 2004 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

A view from gay marriage supporter in Massachusetts: I believe that this move by Bush will actually help the cause of gay marriage in our state.

There is a very tight fight going on in the legislature over amending our [state] constitution to ban gay marriage. Rightly or not, the effort to ammend will now be associated with George W. Bush, someone who is not very popular here.

Meanwhile, our native son John Kerry has come out strongly against a [federal] constitutional amendment.

As the rhetoric flies over the next few days, people will need to decide whether they want to add discrimination and bigotry to the constitution, or not. They will have to decide whether to stand with George W. Bush ond John Kerry. I'm hopeful.

Posted by: Andrew at February 24, 2004 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

>>Kerry, on the other hand, will be forced into the "me, too, but..." position. He'll say "I too oppose gay marriage, but I support civil unions," which everyone knows mean gay marriage. This will make him look like a duplicitious politician who isn't willing to come right out and say what he really means, namely that he supports gay marraige.


no it doesn't - all Kerry has to say is that it should be up to the states - and point out how Bush is hypocritically usurping states' rights on a fundamental issue, nevermind directly waffling on Cheney's very public stand on this in the 2004 debates.

Posted by: Andy at February 24, 2004 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

Andrew, you are partially right, but you are skating on very thin ice. It is a very bad idea to call sincerely religious people "bigots."

Also, while this issue has forced me to confront some of my own homophobia and recognize that I am a little bit prejudiced against gays, I am not a bigoted person in general. It's not like someone who is uncomfortable with gay marriage is a member of the KKK.

If you say that such people are "full of hatred" and are nothing more than bigots, you are going to alienate them.

It's better to frame this issue as "equal rights for all."

Posted by: Joe Schmoe at February 24, 2004 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

Shrub's and the Religious Right's PoA:

I pledge allegiance to the flag, of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, under GAWD, indivisible, with bigotry and hatred towards fags.

Kind of a sad day when the president proposes amending the constitution to insert explicit bigotry against one group. I wonder who's next.

Posted by: raj at February 24, 2004 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

I think Bush was forced into this one by the galvanizing effect of SF Mayor Newsom's act to allow same-sex couple to legally marry there. This was something he really didn't want to do, but rather *had* to do in order to not lose _the_ vital part of his political base. This issue isn't a winner for Bush with younger independent voters, and those voters are the ones who may make the difference in states Bush carried in 2000. For example, in Minnesota there are many moderate voters who supported Jesse Ventura for Governor, and Ventura was very open and friendly to gays in his administration. They are not predisposed to support Republicans on constitutional amendments that deny homosexuals the right to legally marry.

If one side of this issue has the likes of Fred Phelps going on the news, while the other has couples standing in line for hours to legally marry, I think public perception on this issue will favor Democrats, who are positioning themselves to support civil unions. Republicans may try to get Kerry and Edwards to have to vote on a Constitutional amendment in the Senate this year, but Kerry has already wisely said he'd vote against it, which allows him and not Bush to frame the issue for himself. This latest skirmish in the culture wars is one the Democrats can win for a change, as I firmly believe the other side has no real case to make against gay marriage.

Posted by: David W. at February 24, 2004 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

Let me chime in here, Kevin, with those who call you on your (utterly groundless) assertion that Bush and his advisers aren't particularly anti-gay. You join Nick Confessore over at Tapped in this ridiculous assertion (which Nick at least admits he has no evidence for).

WTF?? What is up with straight guys making some character judgment about who is or is not anti-gay?

The president and his advisers propose to do something utterly unprecedented, propose to maim the US Constitution to officially classify a segment of the population as second-class citizens, and you don't think that's anti-gay?

As a gay man, I don't care what "real" motivation they have. I don't care if this is "just" a political ploy. The fact is that they are in the process of fomenting massive anti-gay feeling, of exploiting homophobic bigotry for their own gain, of sacrificing me and my friends for their own self-interest. How is this not anti-gay?

Saying that Bush is not "really" anti-gay is like . . . well, would you say that he weren't anti-Semitic if he wanted to alter the constitution so Jews couldn't marry?

It's this kind of mushy-headedness on the part of straight liberals that just might doom the Democrats. It's Kerry's and Edwards' unwillingness to name what's going on here: bigotry, rank, disgusting, cynical, un-American bigotry.

Posted by: Dan Perreten at February 24, 2004 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

How come Bush is being blamed for igniting the cultural war? San Francisco and New Mexico is getting a free pass?

San Francisco giving licenses to couples from every state forces this to a resolution one way or another. You have the image of elected officials deciding what they believe a constitution says and acting according to their beliefs.

I'm very, very disappointed by the President's actions.

But saying that Bush reignited the Cultural War without mentioned out San Francisco and others are trying to force this to a head is a bit one-sided.

Posted by: hoo at February 24, 2004 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

>It is a very bad idea to call sincerely religious people "bigots."

Don't be silly. Bigotry founded on religion is bigotry nonetheless.

Posted by: raj at February 24, 2004 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

Andy-

That's just crazy. Liberals making a "state's rights" argument? What's next? Will Kerry refer to gay marriage and hetrosexual marriage as "seperate but equal?"

Liberals can't just throw away the last 150 years of philosophy that easily. It will make them look dishonest and insincere.

Posted by: Joe Schmoe at February 24, 2004 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

the culture wars are good for Republicans

Now that's a pretty interesting observation, seeing as how Bush didn't start this gay marriage thing. That claim goes to a liberal court. So if culture wars are good for Repubs, why did the liberals put this issue front and center?

Posted by: Ron at February 24, 2004 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

>But saying that Bush reignited the Cultural War without mentioned out San Francisco and others are trying to force this to a head is a bit one-sided.

So Mr. & Mrs. Loving (in Loving vs. Virginia) were responsible for igniting some portion of the culture wars?

I suppose equality is tough for some people to understand

Posted by: raj at February 24, 2004 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

with respect to joe schmoe's comments, andy has it right: kerry (if he has half a wit about him) will start every discussion of this matter by saying that he opposes turning this into a constitutional ammendment.

Then he will go ahead and say that he favors civil unions, etc.

Meanwhile, Bush will have no choice but to say, no, i don't think gay people should have the right to be married, and i believe this so strongly that i think this belongs in the constitution.

Helps Bush's base; doesn't help Bush's more general appeal (which may or may not matter).

Posted by: howard at February 24, 2004 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

This issue plays well for the Democrats once they figure out that the one issue this year is Trust.

Do you Trust GW Bush?

He lied about WMD in Iraq.

He lied about the Patriot Act.

He lied about the National Guard.

He lied about being an anti-federalist, state-rights supporter.

He can't be trusted with the Presidency.

The Democrats have to make this about giving the states the chance to deal with this at the local level and not being dictated to by the Federal Government. This is the wrong amendment at the wroing time for all of the wrong reasons.

That will fly in November.

Posted by: Ruidh at February 24, 2004 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

You never which of these cultural issues will catch on. I mean, in Feb 2000, how many of you REALLY thought that gun control would be as important as it turned out to be in Nov 2000? Honestly... (I say this even though I believe a majority of people in the country probably were FOR gun control in 2000; it's just that, at the polls, it was a loser issue for Dems.)

So this issue may turn out to be the "gun control" of 2004 - something that really motivates people to the polls and favors one side. Or it may be more like abortion - something that is a big issue, but turns out to be a wash electorally. I'd bet on the latter.

That all being said, I believe that Bush probably would have left gay marriage where it was, if it weren't for Gavin Newsome pushing the issue in SF. But Newsome pushed the issue, riled up the religious right, and forced Bush to act in support of his base. If it comes back to bite y'all in the ass on Nov. 2, you'll know who's responsible.

Posted by: Al at February 24, 2004 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

Great paragraph from Josh Marshall:

"One might suggest that the idea we should have in mind here is that old line about judging a man's character and mettle by what he does when the seas get stormy rather than what he does when they're calm. But I think the real metaphor to keep in mind is how dangerous and unpredictable an animal becomes when he's cornered"

Do not underestimate (or Overestimate) the people in the White House. I have said before, and here I say it again: There are no possible circumstances in which George Bush will not be President in January. None.

When you accept and believe that statement, and understand what I am saying, you will understand how bad a situation we are in, and how bad a mistake was made in 2000.

Posted by: bob mcmanus at February 24, 2004 01:02 PM | PERMALINK

Don't tell me you bought the 'Hate the sin, love the sinner' bullshit. These folks hate the sinner. There's no such thing as a tolerant religion. We have the Ten Commandments, not the Ten Suggestions.

Posted by: Bill From PA at February 24, 2004 01:03 PM | PERMALINK

This ain't a Chewbacca defense - Bush didn't pick this ground, the left did. In case you haven't noticed, events are forcing Bush's hand. He was quite happy to sit back, say ambiguous things about gay marriage, and let the status quo continue. It will win him votes - there is a reason the Defense of Marriage Act was signed by a Democrat, and passed with majority support from Democrats. Those it loses him - the Sullivans of the world, and maybe a few libertarians like myself - will be outnumbered by middle class, middle income, middle politics families who will support "protecting marriage". I don't like it, but it will play fine, politically.

Look away from the coasts - NY and California aren't the states in play. How will this, as they say, play in Peoria? That is where the election will be decided; marriage is valued and gay marriage scorned there.

This does cost Bush half a vote. I'll still take Bush over Kerry on foreign policy - Kerry simply isn't plausible on foreign policy, which is the primary role of a president. Bush-Edwards, though - I could go either way, which means I'd probably in practice go Libertarian. Of course, I'm in Texas. It doesn't matter how I vote.

Posted by: rvman at February 24, 2004 01:04 PM | PERMALINK

I really don't want to argue on either side of this issue, but I don't think that it is honest to say that Bush ignited this issue. It seems to me that he is being purely reactive to events in San Francisco and Massachusetts and that he would never have gone to this position unless forced. I don't think this was ever in his campaign plan and I will be surprised if they bring it up much.

Bush's stump speech, like it or not, agree with it or not, will be:

I inherited a recession from the last administration, but the economy is improving

I won't raise your taxes - they will

You can trust me with national defense - you can't trust them

Posted by: Campesino at February 24, 2004 01:06 PM | PERMALINK

The usual form of the metaphor is "waving the bloody shirt," referring to wounds of (the Civil) war. Your version, a lapse I assume, cuts a little close in view of the topic.

Posted by: Bob McHenry at February 24, 2004 01:07 PM | PERMALINK

to the people who say the right-wing ultra religious types scare them, they fact is they scare EVERYONE. Just look at HR 3799. They want a religious theocratic US. The way to deal with it is to EXPOSE them for who they are. Call them out of the shadows. Show America what will happen if they get their way. I can't for the life of me figure out why the HR3799 story isn't front and center on every major paper.

Posted by: jack at February 24, 2004 01:07 PM | PERMALINK

What rvman said: Bush didn't pick this ground

Posted by: Campesino at February 24, 2004 01:08 PM | PERMALINK

>the culture wars are good for Republicans

Maybe Pat Buchanan should give the keynote address to the Republican National Convention this summer. His call to the culture wars did wonders for Shrub's father

Posted by: raj at February 24, 2004 01:09 PM | PERMALINK

The way I see it is those in S.F. and New Mexico(and Chicago btw)is that they wanted to get the issue into the courts before an amendment could be voted on to let the courts say that the laws on the states books,banning gay marriage,is unconstitutional.Therefor making an amendment change would be in the eyes of the masses wrong ie unconstitutional.

Posted by: smalfish at February 24, 2004 01:10 PM | PERMALINK

What does Bush have to do to prove he's anti-gay to you Kevin? Kill Mary Cheney with his bare hands?

You just don't get it.

Posted by: David Ehrenstein at February 24, 2004 01:10 PM | PERMALINK

What Newsom was shooting for, was getting the courts to shoot down Prop 22 on it's lack of Constitutionality.

If Bush felt forced to act to support his extremist constituency, well that's to HIS detriment. Especially with the pot calling the kettle black on the "activist judges" thing. A Constitutional Amendment is just the ticket for this. It settles the argument once and for all (sadly, not how I'd like to see it settled). But on the bright side, it sounds as if the proposed legislation will include some Civil Union rights.

But if this Amendment passes, this should be a signal to each and every American that voting Republican is supporting bigotry. And if, in 04, the bums aren't tossed out, we'll see the 1st Amendment repealed, and a whole host of worse attrocities. All "justified" by the mandate these politicians received by winning their elections.

The solution is simple. The folks who aren't presently voting, need to get off their asses and vote. And those who ARE presently voting Republican, need to stop and think about what they're voting for first. And if Americans can't do that - well, then, this is what they're truly for. This is what they want. This is where the experiment in democracy has led - democratic despotism.

Posted by: Occam's Cuisinart at February 24, 2004 01:11 PM | PERMALINK

What amazes me is that this is Huntington's `clash of civilizations' begining to play out right in front of my eyes.

In his book, it was islamic versus christian civilizations; but what he was missing was that it was my-religion-above-all versus secular liberal society. Islamists proposing sharia law would be perfectly happy as a first step editing a democratic consitution to ban (say) equal rights to marriage for gays.


Religious fundamentalism -- willing to sacrifice civil rights, willing to edit the founding documents of our democracy -- versus the forces of freedom and individual liberty. I don't know who's going to win at the end, but I know who I'm going to fight for.

Posted by: sparcs at February 24, 2004 01:12 PM | PERMALINK

He's a bigoted panderer.

Posted by: poputonian at February 24, 2004 01:12 PM | PERMALINK

I think the most pragmatic response to this for Kerry would be to point out the Right's hypocrisy on the issue as illuminated by their self declared position as the champions of states rights. Then he should point out that the president is using this in an attempt to distract the people from the very real problems this country faces as a direct result of the president's failed policies.

What I would like to see is Kerry, while still pointing out that this is a distraction from Bush's failures, embracing the idea of same-sex marriage as a fairness issue. with a strong grassroots campaign to convice the public that gay marriage isn't so scary, I think this could help him rather than hurt him.

Posted by: whoever at February 24, 2004 01:14 PM | PERMALINK

"The Democrats have to make this about giving the states the chance to deal with this at the local level and not being dictated to by the Federal Government."

The Full Faith and Credit clause in the Constitution automatically makes this a national issue.

Posted by: Campesino at February 24, 2004 01:15 PM | PERMALINK

Also, let's get some pictures of a raving Fred Phelps next to pictures of one of the happy couples from San Francisco and ask people which picture disturbs them more.

Posted by: whoever at February 24, 2004 01:17 PM | PERMALINK

The conservatives say the Mass. courts started this.But I read somewhere that 3 of the 4 judges were republican.Does anyone know more about this?

Posted by: smalfish at February 24, 2004 01:18 PM | PERMALINK

Joe Schmoe is on the right track here. Bush's position wouldn't be nearly so strong if Kerry's or Edwards weren't so confused. Timing is also bad for the Dems, since it would have been helpful to have done a little more groundwork educating the electorate.

The Dems also need to get the idea out there that excluding gays from marriage rights is truly tragic whenever one member of a couple is struck by illness or death -- and this tragedy is compounded when there are children involved. Show people WHY the issue is important -- and then they might have a chance of making the case on grounds of simple human decency and compassion.

Democrats need to turn the debate around completely: they are not "opposed to gay marriage" -- they are FOR liberty and justice for ALL. They are FOR the Christian virtue of tolerance, etc. "I'm opposed but ...." just isn't going to cut it.

Posted by: ned at February 24, 2004 01:20 PM | PERMALINK

Come on, David -- you may not think it's an important distinction, but there is a difference between someone who hates gays or thinks gays are evil for some insane little emotional or religious reason of their own, and someone who genuinely doesn't give a fuck but is willing to do terrible things to gays if it's useful to them. I figure that that distinction was what Kevin was addressing.

Bush looks like someone who's in the latter category. I would call that morally inferior to the former category on the grounds that crazy isn't as bad as cold-bloodedly cruel, but there's really not that much to choose between them.

Posted by: LizardBreath at February 24, 2004 01:21 PM | PERMALINK

"I really don't want to argue on either side of this issue, but I don't think that it is honest to say that Bush ignited this issue."

Bush being the former Texas governor who once vowed to veto any repeal of that state's sodomy law on the grounds that it was a legitimate expression of the moral values of the people. Wouldn't have gone there unless forced, did you say? Forced by what and whom? His gay hating power base didn't kidnap him, their marriage by all accounts was by mutual consent.

He didn't ignite the fire, he's only pouring gasoline on it. That makes him not responsible for the fire. Of course you know that whenever politicians go on these anti-gay binges, gay bashings increase. And of course he won't be responsible for that either. He's pretty good at not being responsible.

Posted by: Bruce Garrett at February 24, 2004 01:21 PM | PERMALINK

Why is Gavin Newsom to blame? If he was violating California law then shouldn't have the Governor or higher-up judges done something to stop him? What Newsom did was definitely provocative. But not in a Federal constitutional context. It was a California issue - SF Mayor vs. CA law. The political ramifications were that religious rightwingers saw what the media was presenting, and it was one of happy, elderly respectable couples getting married, thus normalizing and legitimating their demands. The Right fears that these images will crystalize into a wider acceptance of gay marriage - something which generational polling statistics already show. They said to Bush, "Act now because it's already getting too late."

Posted by: Elrod at February 24, 2004 01:25 PM | PERMALINK

>>Liberals can't just throw away the last 150 years of philosophy that easily. It will make them look dishonest and insincere.

yet you seem to be giving Bush a "pass" on exactly that, Schmoe. Interesting the way you turn it around as to what you think "liberals" should and shouldn't be allowed to do while basically ignoring what Bush/Cheney actually do. Do you deny that the "states rights" was Cheney's stated position during the 2000 debates? How come, suddenly, the Democrats shouldn't be allowed to bring that up? Talk about "dishonest and insincere"...

Posted by: Andy at February 24, 2004 01:26 PM | PERMALINK

Joe, I don't think you've been watching the news that closely. I've seen plenty of "photogenic" folks in those lines--and a heck of a lot of them have their kids with them.

Posted by: Karen Underwood at February 24, 2004 01:27 PM | PERMALINK

Has the US Supreme Court invalidated the Defense of Marriage Act? If not, then why assume that the Full Faith and Credit Clause necessarily nationalizes state marriage licenses.

Posted by: Elrod at February 24, 2004 01:27 PM | PERMALINK

The proposed amendment won't make it through Congress (2/3 Senate + 3/4 reps, I believe), so that's a pretty good indication that the motivation is political. The issue will polarize voters: some democrats and undecideds will go over to Bush, since the dem. nominee will be forced to take the opposing stance to the proposed amendment.

Posted by: shawn at February 24, 2004 01:28 PM | PERMALINK

Gay marriage is a ridiculous term....we are not talking about gay marriage..but an end to marriage as a state recognized institution. If the courts find that marriage is a 'right' that can't be regulated by the state..then anyone can marry anyone.....you certainly won't have to be gay to marry another man...you can of heterosexual male marriage, you can have three people marriage.

SIMPLY PUT: THERE WILL BE NO STATE INTEREST IN MARRIAGE, SO IT WILL BE UNREGULATED.

Posted by: Kesier at February 24, 2004 01:29 PM | PERMALINK

This ain't a Chewbacca defense - Bush didn't pick this ground, the left did. In case you haven't noticed, events are forcing Bush's hand.

No it isn't the Chewbacca defense. It's called the "Gay Panic Defense." As in, "I'm not a bigot your Honor, I only beat that fag because he hit on me. I didn't mean to. I just panicked!"

Posted by: Paul at February 24, 2004 01:29 PM | PERMALINK

"In his book, it was islamic versus christian civilizations; but what he was missing was that it was my-religion-above-all versus secular liberal society"

Dead-on Sparcs

Posted by: bob mcmanus at February 24, 2004 01:30 PM | PERMALINK

"SO IT WILL BE UNREGULATED"

Thats funny.I thought that that was what this administration was all about.deregulate everything....except freedoms for americans(I guess)

Posted by: smalfish at February 24, 2004 01:31 PM | PERMALINK

Bush 'came out of the closet' today.

Posted by: Knut Wicksell at February 24, 2004 01:33 PM | PERMALINK

It's not clear how this is going to pan out, but I think it is clear that Bush -- and other Republicans, e.g., Schwarzeneggger -- did not want to have to take a clear public stand on gay marriage. Bush had many, many opportunities to endorse an anti-gay amendment -- the Russert interview notable among them -- and he weaseled on it every time. Likewise, Schwarzenegger's initial reaction to the SF marriages was so low-key as to be nonexistent.

They acted because they felt they had to. Whether that was because the Rabid Right threatened to stay home in November (or March), or because they felt they needed to control some headlines, or for some other reason, who knows?

But I agree with the tenor of most of these posts: being out in front on this is more likely to hurt them than to help them with the mushy middle. Like it or not, they look mean and intolerant, which is a big point of vulnerability for the Republicans.

And I would add that, imho, being out in front on this issue can hurt the Democrats too. It won't help them to be seen as pushing the "homosexual agenda."

If Kerry (or Edwards) sticks to opposing the amendment ("polluting the Constitution") and supporting "civil rights" and "normal processes at the state level," he'll be a clear winner on the issue.

Posted by: bleh at February 24, 2004 01:34 PM | PERMALINK

If this move had come from a position of strength it would've probably ended up being a net, though small, gain for Bush, but coming as it does after repeated drops in the polls it looks like desperation and will be perceived as another wild gambit comparable to the half-assed Mars mission that bombed so completely. And, all this when real problems are getting mishandled.

Down the road the blowback from demoralized fundamentalists after swing voters choose sides against them will be huge.

The middle has yet to focus on this issue and when they do they're not going to be happy having themselves bricked into a corner when all they really want is for this inevitable thing to go away for a few years.

From now on we should set our sights on landslide.

Posted by: dennisS at February 24, 2004 01:38 PM | PERMALINK

First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.

Pastor Martin Niemöller

Posted by: Jeffrey L. Seltzer at February 24, 2004 01:38 PM | PERMALINK

I think Dobson, Colson, Falwell, et al. laid it on the line: either he endorses the FMA or we stay home in November.

I think the actual threat was more along the lines of "or we run Roy Moore as a 3rd party candidate."

W has to do this to keep his core supporters on board. On the whole, I think he (actually Karl) would prefer to elide over this issue, but I don't think he has a choice.

Posted by: uh_clem at February 24, 2004 01:39 PM | PERMALINK

Bush's call for a constitutional amendment defining marriage is the conservatives' modus operandi. It's blitzkrieg.

Gingrich did it with the "Contract with America" in 1994, ramming legislation through Congress before any cooler and more reasonable heads could prevail and consider just what the effects of conservative policies are.

We saw this blitzkrieg assault in the days after election-2000 in Florida, with the hysterical "we must have the election determined now.. the country can't survive the waiting that counting all legal ballots and following the law and democratic principles will bring!"

In the post-2000-election days, they not only capitalized on the confusion of the situation, but created more of it with stunts like sending Tom "the hammer" Delay's aides to the Miami-Dade Elections office to pose as angry Floridian voters in order to intimidate and influence the elections supervisers into not counting legal ballots.

In 1997, this is what DeLay said: "The judges need to be intimidated. They need to uphold the Constitution." If they don't behave, he said, "we're going to go after them in a big way."

They create driving, deafening drumbeats where rational thought and reasoned dialog become impossible. I don't know why people aren't recognizing this yet. This is how Republicans got into power and continue to stay in power.

I think that Bush and his cohorts live and breathe for one thing alone - to win in order to 1.) Get all of the money, power and control into their (and their benefactors') pockets, and 2.) To put into place a framework of laws and policies that would make it impossible for anybody other than conservatives to get the money, power and control back.

Toward that end, anything is fair game. Whether he is anti-gay or not makes no difference. An anti-gay amendment to the constitution is a tool that Bush can use to keep the media from covering his crimes and destructive policies.

To have a culture war works for Bush. If you'll notice, the Democratic frontrunners (and the party itself) aren't for gay marriage. Kerry and Edwards are running from the issue. They're nuancing their positions. You can only nuance an issue in an atmosphere of quiet calm so that voters can hear you.

A culture war keeps all of the little people at each others' throats, arguing about inconsequentials that don't affect them. The important issues, that affect us all and where Bush has failed everyone, aren't getting discussed.

I'm afraid that by the time we get the country back, there won't be anything left to save. Anywhere.

Did you know that the Great Barrier Reef will be dead by 2050, due to the rising ocean temperatures (global warming)? The word now is that there is nothing that can be done now to stop it.
http://www.enn.com/news/2004-02-24/s_13397.asp

Posted by: Carrie at February 24, 2004 01:39 PM | PERMALINK

Dammit. I was all fired up for an election year debate on the use of steroids in professional sports. This gay marriage thing will probably cheat me out of it.

Posted by: Brian C.B. at February 24, 2004 01:39 PM | PERMALINK

Someone correct me if I'm wrong here - but won't it take some Clintonian Linguistic Gymnastics to overcome Article 14 of the US Constitution?

Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Posted by: Occam's Cuisinart at February 24, 2004 01:40 PM | PERMALINK

>>the courts find that marriage is a 'right' that can't be regulated by the state..then anyone can marry anyone.....

a libertarian fantasy - operative word "FANTASY". Who said anything about courts saying that the state can't regulate marriage? That's a fundamental (and almost offensive) misreading of the issue - which is an equal protection issue - the state CAN regulate marriage, but can't do so by favoring one class of citizens over any other. In Vermont and Massachusetts (and Hawaii before the bigots amended the state constitution) the basis for the court order were based on specific wording in those states' constitutions explicitly guaranteeing equality before the law for all.

Distorting what the issue is, blaming the mess on "activist judges", or pretending that marriage is somehow "special" and needs to be "protected" are all nothing more than attempts to deflect from the essential constitutional "equal protection" argument that is the core of this issue.

Posted by: Andy at February 24, 2004 01:43 PM | PERMALINK
The real genius in Bush's strategy is how Kerry will be forced to react to it. Kerry will have to (a) come out in favor of civil unions, which will make it that much easier to portray him as an extremist liberal who is out of touch with ordiary Americans. However, he'll also have to (b) pretend that he is opposed to gay marriage. This will make him look like a duplicitous politician with his finger in the wind.

Or come up with a lateral dodge about how the FMA undoes Loving v. Virginia, destroys the right to interracial marriage, removes all Equal Protection Clause protections from marriage, allows states to arbitrarily deny marriage, and may even ban marriage altogether. All for the sake of taking freedom away from the states to decide how to set marriage policy because a some might allow a handful of gay people to marry.

And how rather than finding ways to strip constitutional freedoms, the Executive Branch ought to spend its effort dealing with the serious fiscal, economic, and security threats this nation now faces.

Posted by: cmdicely at February 24, 2004 01:43 PM | PERMALINK

The Democrats should exploit this issue to their advantage - by encouraging us to donate to opponents of the FMA cosponsors. Until they do, I will. There's a list of cosponsors here and a list of opponents of the most vulnerable cosponsors here.

Posted by: Drew at February 24, 2004 01:43 PM | PERMALINK

Personally, I'm offended by President Bush and his fearful followers (or is he the follower?).

And I'm a straight male.

Politically, I don't think people should get carried away with this beyond making some concise and heartfelt points about the evils of discrimination while it's big news today and tomorrow.

The amendment process is a long one, and would need 2/3 of both the Senate and the House, and then would need to go through 3/4 of the states.

In other words, it's not happening before the election, so beating Bush and the Republicans is the best bloodless strategy for knocking this thing out.

It's best to be careful in how you couch your defense to this amendment too. The primary mistake would be to counter an activist stance of banning gay marriage with an activist stance of affirming gay marriage.

That's not needed yet. We don't need to the government to do anything in terms of marriage, other than assure that gay Americans aren't being discriminated against legally, which means that whether you prefer marriage or civil union there is a solution.

Marriage, as I said, has been going on for millenia, and in these days has become much more about romance and love than anything else, with people also having the "right of exit" since they are free to dissolve these marriage bonds.

That's why marriages aren't lasting as long. Because people, especially women, are more free. But even in freedom, people overwhelmingly get married before a pastor, priest, or religious leader of some sort, and that's the important part.

It shows that neither marriage nor religion has suffered because of separation from the state. By the way, we the people are the state, in case you forgot.

Back to subject. The government just has legalities and rules and regulations that go along with marriage, and that people think about before marrying, but usually not in a primary sense in terms of making the decision to do it.

Marriage is not in danger, except the transition that has come in our age of freedom. We are living in the greatest age of humankind ever, with the most freedom. With that, many assumptions, dominations, and coercions that use to play themselves out no longer do. Often marriages work, often they don't.

We should not deny gay Americans the pursuit of happiness, romance, love, family, heart, hearth, the chance to form a permanent union, and, after forming a union, equality before the state and law.

Marriage doesn't need government. It happens. People fall in love. They choose to spend the rest of their lives together. Generally, they get married before a spiritual leader of some sort. This is all independent of the state. We the people as the state need to be assure that we don't deny the inalienable to people who are not born like us.

It's that simple.

Marriage doesn't need government. Why does government, and President Bush, need marriage?

Think about it.

Posted by: jimm at February 24, 2004 01:46 PM | PERMALINK
Someone correct me if I'm wrong here - but won't it take some Clintonian Linguistic Gymnastics to overcome Article 14 of the US Constitution?

That's Amendment 14, and a newer Amendment supercedes an older one, so, no, it wouldn't. The proposed FMA would essentially remove marriage from any protection under the 14th Amendment.

Posted by: cmdicely at February 24, 2004 01:47 PM | PERMALINK

I state my position that marriage doesn't need government, but our current government cynically needs marriage, more eloquently over here.

Posted by: jimm at February 24, 2004 01:48 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think that Bush himself is especially anti-gay

Oh come on, Kevin. You're trying too hard to be fair and balanced. ISure he's not calling for pink triangles and throwing queers into camps, but if supporting an amendment to deny fundamental rights to citizens isn't anti-gay, what is?

But saying that Bush reignited the Cultural War without mentioned out San Francisco and others are trying to force this to a head is a bit one-sided.

Yeah, and Wallace was just reacting to "them uppity negras". Face it, Bush had a chance to stand up and be counted as a supporter of equal rights, and instead has picked up the banner of bigotry and displays his true self, as well as that of his party. Let us not forget Pat Buchanan's immortal words at the '92 convention:

The agenda Clinton & Clinton would impose on America...homosexual rights...that's change, all right. But it is not the kind of change America wants...My friends, this election is about much more than who gets what. It is about who we are. It is about what we believe. It is about what we stand for as Americans. There is a religious war going on in our country for the soul of America. It is a cultural war, as critical to the kind of nation we will one day be as was the Cold War itself.

Let us hope the result in '04 is the same.

Posted by: NTodd at February 24, 2004 01:48 PM | PERMALINK

Hear ye! Hear ye!

For the first time in American politics we have a sitting duck president who gleefully shot off both his own wings.

Quack! Quack!

Can ducks stay afloat without their wings?

Good Lord...I am going to enjoy watching this bastard drown one drip, drip, drip, at a time...

Posted by: -pea- at February 24, 2004 01:49 PM | PERMALINK

You want a photogenic spokesman for gay marriage? Go watch Gavin Newsom get interviewed about it; you don't get a whole lot more photogenic than that. (Which is not the same thing as saying that he'll convince everybody, but he certainly doesn't fit Joe's description of those who will spend a lot of time on TV.)

I still say that, if the Democratic nominee (I've given too much money to Edwards to concede yet) has any media savvy, he can make it look like Bush is against love.

Posted by: J. Michael Neal at February 24, 2004 01:51 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think that it is honest to say that Bush ignited this issue. It seems to me that he is being purely reactive to events in San Francisco and Massachusetts and that he would never have gone to this position unless forced.

This is bullshit. The marriages in San Francisco will probably be voided. Only a court can declare a law unconstitutional and the mayor exceeded his authority. The whole issue will go up on appeal to the Cal SC and there's no harm done by waiting.

And the Full Faith and Credit clause has awell-recognized exception for "public policy". The usual example is that one state will enforce commercial contracts made in another, but if the state outlaws gambling its courts will not enforce a debt that is the result of a bet in another state. Similar reasoning could apply to marriages.

There's no reason why this couldn't play out on a state-by-state basis, as it has for many years now. Bush is trying to get electoral advantage out of stirring up intolerance against a minority. I'm not aware of any religious books that contain the line "blessed are the trouble-makers".

Posted by: Roger Bigod at February 24, 2004 01:52 PM | PERMALINK

Hey NASCAR fans with no jobs! Look! Homos!

Yup, it's a real shame we didn't listen to Howard Dean.

Posted by: xfrosch at February 24, 2004 01:53 PM | PERMALINK

Many to most of the Judges on the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court were appointed by Republican governors.

Posted by: bipod at February 24, 2004 01:56 PM | PERMALINK

Why can't these people read what the bible actually says?
Marriage is clearly defined as being betwen one man and one women. Or two women. Or three. Or in the case of Solomon, a thousand wives and concubines.
:)

Posted by: Jeremy at February 24, 2004 02:00 PM | PERMALINK

I think that there are two ways to win on this:

Point out that we are supposed to have equal protection under the law. Two consenting adults should be allowed to marry each other. (This would address all those who want to bring interspecies relationships and polygamy up). All Dems have to say is that they believe in equal protection, equal protection, equal protection. For everyone. Period.

The other is to say, in this enlightened age we live in, amending the US Constitution to take away rights from any of our citizens is just wrong, no two ways about it.

Creating Civil Unions as an alternative to marriage sounds to me like "seperate but equal" all over again.

Posted by: Baaaa at February 24, 2004 02:00 PM | PERMALINK

You want a photogenic spokesman for gay marriage? Go watch Gavin Newsom get interviewed about it; you don't get a whole lot more photogenic than that.

Speaking of that - is Newsom Gay?

Posted by: Occam's Cuisinart at February 24, 2004 02:02 PM | PERMALINK

It's funny to watch some of the heated responses here.
AG Lockyer in Ca. finally felt some heat as a recall has been initiated against him for failing to actively enforce Prop 22. Only when the press release came out that Ted Costa of People's Advocate was getting signitures to file the notice of recall did Lockyer say at 10:00 P.M. Mon. night that he would ask the Ca. State Supreme Court to decide the issue.

What the court may be reviewing once it takes up the case is precedent. Marraige has been defined as the union between one man and one woman for hundreds of years, across many cultures and many religions. California has a civil union law that provides the same rights as marriage without the title of marriage. Unlike the education issue in the 50's of seperate but equal, this may hold up under law as equal rights.
I think the Lawrence decision by the USSC really opened a can of worms. This is one of the results. Polygamy is being challanged in Utah. Next will be challanges of incest laws, beastiality laws, and other laws against private behavior judged to be against the norms of society. But from reading some of the comments here, there are those who don't think there should be laws that make judgements on behavior. But where do you draw the line? Where is the discipline in society?
I didn't hear the president make any anti gay remarks. I heard him wishing to affirm an institution that has been unchanged for hundreds of years. Californians affimed that idea with Prop 22 with over a 60% majority. If the gay community wishes to change the meaning of marriage, maybe THEY need to take on the process of changing either the state or federal constitution.

Posted by: Meatss at February 24, 2004 02:05 PM | PERMALINK

I have encountered today some gay and lesbians who are feeling afraid. Uhh this sucks.

To any gays or lesbians who might read this.

I am not saying you should not be afraid. Perhaps you should be. I will say that I ,Bob McManus, offer any possible help I am able to command in full outrage at todays events.

Scarey times, but I hope it helps a little to know you have friends.

Posted by: bob mcmanus at February 24, 2004 02:05 PM | PERMALINK

Gavin Newsom has been clear that he began researching the question of whether SF could issue marriage licenses to gays AFTER Bush's remarks in the State of the Union speech. So Bush putting his weight behind the issue initially spurred Newsom. Bush pushed it first here. The fact that Bush hoped to get by on a few words in the SOTU and not have the issue front and center shows his desperation and his dependence on the religious right.

This issue just further highlights the two themes of this election: ONE, extremism. Bush is an extremist who espouses a divisive, rigid philosophy which permeates his administration and TWO, trust. You can't even trust Bush to understand or be straightforward about what his proposed constitutional amendment does. It's just more lies and bait and switch.

IMO the issue cuts for the Democrats. Kerry just needs to say that he supports the rights of states to try different things and opposes enshrining dual treatment in the Constitution. (Didn't we already have one war about that?) He just needs to hammer on jobs, healthcare and education, and a sensible war against the terrorists. Bush will look extreme.

One more question: If we won't let Iraq adopt something that says that Islam is the basis of their laws etc, how can we adopt a bill that says Christianity is the basis of our laws? Sharia and biblical morality enshrined in law are basically the same thing. If pluralism, secularism and religious freedom are good enough for Iraq they are good enough for us too.

Posted by: Mimikatz at February 24, 2004 02:05 PM | PERMALINK

OK, EQUAL PROTECTION.....

If two gay men can marry than all other men want equal protection. Two heterosexual men will have the right to marry.

Today both gay men and heterosexual men can't marry each other...you want to end that by only allowing the two gay men to marry but not the two heterosexual men - -THERE GOES EQUAL PROTECTION OUT THE WINDOW.

Then the two heterosexual men would have the same rights as the gays will now enjoy in San Franscisco.

Posted by: keiser at February 24, 2004 02:07 PM | PERMALINK

"By endorsing the anti-gay constitutional amendment, Bush has repudiated his very effective 2000 electoral strategy of pretending to be a moderate...."

Really. How do you explain that his position on the merits (oppose gay marraige, allow state civil unions) is not much different than Kerry's (oppose gay marriage, allow civil unions).

The DLC DNC duplicity of nuanced nothingness will allow Bush to paint himself a moderate and Kerry a hypocrite, unless Kerry proves he is a superior campaigner and strategist.

Posted by: obe at February 24, 2004 02:07 PM | PERMALINK

All right, I think some of the comments here are a bit harsh on Kevin's assessment that Bush isn't anti-gay himself, and I'm one who took issue with that very claim. First of all it IS an interesting question whether politicians are acting out of principle or calculation (and, since usually both, in what proportion). Second, there might be some evidence to support Kevin's gut feeling (and Nick Confessore's also). After all, there have been openly gay White House staffers, and the relations with the Log Cabins for a while weren't quite so tendentious as in the past.

Ultimately, I don't think that the tolerate-don't-condone approach of Bush qualifies as not "anti-gay." And maybe since I grew up gay in the buckle of the Bible belt, I don't believe that any President that has all-but-mandatory bible study sessions with his entourage isn't acting out of principle on this.

Posted by: ChrisinBoston at February 24, 2004 02:11 PM | PERMALINK

To Kevin's remark that "I don't know if Bush himself is especially anti-gay," NTodd said, "Oh come on, Kevin. You're trying too hard to be fair and balanced. ISure he's not calling for pink triangles and throwing queers into camps, but if supporting an amendment to deny fundamental rights to citizens isn't anti-gay, what is?"

Well, I think that's two different things. Supporting the amendment is unquestionably an anti-gay act, but it doesn't necessarily mean Bush is anti-gay himself. In some ways it would be worse: he's willing to support immoral actions even when he doesn't believe the underlying philosophy himself.

I've always seen Bush as someone who doesn't really hold that many firm convictions. He listens to whatever Rove and Cheney (and whoever else) whisper in his ear. If they told him to vigorously oppose the FMA, he'd do it. This is what I think Kevin had in mind: Bush doesn't really care one way or the other - not enough, anyway, to personally hold a strong belief in such an amendment - but his handlers do, and they are the ones pulling the strings.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at February 24, 2004 02:11 PM | PERMALINK

I believe Bush is employing - how did Rod Paige put it? - Oh, yes! Obstructionist scare tactics!!  Thank you, Mr. Secretary.

Posted by: bumpkin at February 24, 2004 02:11 PM | PERMALINK

As a gay man, who was once married to a woman, I am not so much offended by what Bush has done than simply resigned to it. He was going to do this, it was just a matter of when and how. His staff has been hinting at this for months. And yes, the recent rulings and marriages only gave him his grand excuse.

I mention my former marital status for only one reason. When I was married and officially straight, individuals felt free to discuss their real feelings on homosexuality when the subject came up -- and you would be surprised how often it was discussed. There were some very intense and negative responses -- and that wasn't so very long ago.

Those staffers in the White House know exactly what they are doing and what emotions they are playing to. Bush's past references to Gays..."we are all sinners".... clearly tells me where he stands. In that last campaign it took him a long time to even meet with the Log Cabin Republicans. It is just too bad that so many of my Gay brothers feel that they have to be Republicans. I wonder what they are thinking now. I guess it is a hard habit to break.

But, there is still hope. My straight, very conservative, brother told me today, as I called to wish him a happy 65th birtday, "Bush is a bigot and just trying to play to other bigots, people should be allowed to love who they wish."

Remember, his daddy tried this in '92 and it didn't work. I pray it doesn't work now.

Posted by: Keith at February 24, 2004 02:15 PM | PERMALINK

How do you explain that his position on the merits (oppose gay marraige, allow state civil unions) is not much different than Kerry's (oppose gay marriage, allow civil unions).

Well, their positions are more like:

Bush: Opposes gay marriage (really -- even if the Constitution needs to be amended). Allow civil unions.

Kerry: Opposes gay marriage (not really -- if some state allows it, Kerry don't care). Allow civil unions.

I mean, isn't it OBVIOUS that one position is bigotry and the other is to be commended? Duh.

Posted by: Al at February 24, 2004 02:18 PM | PERMALINK

Meatss:
Beastiality laws challenges - simple, no consent is involved there, so it's abuse. Period.
Incest laws challenges - again, where consent is at issue, and it is when you're talking about an adult and child, it's abuse. Period. Where it's brother and sister. . . ew. Sterilize em for the good of their offspring, and look away.
Polygamy/Plural Marriage - if it was good enough for Abraham, it should be good enough for THIS Christian nation. Just get rid of the Welfare loopholes, and ensure that we're talking about consenting adults, and I have no argument. My wife WANTS me to get another wife to help her with the housework!

Posted by: Occam's Cuisinart at February 24, 2004 02:19 PM | PERMALINK

My thoery has been that the rats on the Stalinist Ship Dubya would run down the anchor chain at the first opportunity that gave them a chance to save face. Andy Sullivan, famed for flaming gays until he was outted, has found his: the gay marriage amendment.

"Rather than keep the Constitution out of the culture wars, this president wants to drag the very founding document into his re-election campaign. He is proposing to remove civil rights from one group of American citizens - and do so in the Constitution itself. The message could not be plainer: these citizens do not fully belong in America. Their relationships must be stigmatized in the very Constitution itself. The document that should be uniting the country will now be used to divide it, to single out a group of people for discrimination itself, and to do so for narrow electoral purposes. Not since the horrifying legacy of Constitutional racial discrimination in this country has such a goal been even thought of, let alone pursued. Those of us who supported this president in 2000, who have backed him whole-heartedly during the war, who have endured scorn from our peers as a result, who trusted that this president was indeed a uniter rather than a divider, now know the truth."

Eloquent, I'll certainly give him that.

Posted by: Ivor the Engine Driver at February 24, 2004 02:20 PM | PERMALINK

I'm no fan of Sullivan, but he usually writes good prose. You can tell he's worked up here, because his prose sucks. He uses modifiers like "the very blah" to the exclusion of any alternative, over a couple of very paragraphs. He is steamed, I deduce. But it was still worth revising. Very hard to write, I'd think.

Posted by: John Isbell at February 24, 2004 02:21 PM | PERMALINK

Yesterday Bush was telling people how the Democrats are for big government and less personal freedom.

Today he announces support for creating the only existing constitutional amendment that takes away rights instead of granting them.

I wonder if his own speechwriters see the irony...

Posted by: Jeremy at February 24, 2004 02:22 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

You're right I think.

They need something that will kick up a lot of smoke and this surely will. Mobilize enough of their base, keep those people from asking too many questions as the investigations and scandals continue to mount between now and November . . .

Better to get everybody all hot and bothered to where they forget what the real issues are . . .

The opposition imo shouldn't push this one so strong, let it simmer; be happy that Bush has tied himself so closely to this issue, since when Bush falls the whole opposition to this one issue falls as well . . .

Posted by: seydlitz89 at February 24, 2004 02:26 PM | PERMALINK

On a totally different topic, has anyone seen the new advertisements for ready.gov? Absolute fear-mongering, with not even a pretense of informing the public. I certainly expect to see more of these "helpful" reminders of what danger we're in as we get closer to the election.

Posted by: Gabe at February 24, 2004 02:30 PM | PERMALINK

Way upstream now, LizardBreath comes to Kevin's defense in distinguishing between kinds of anti-gay bigots.

Kevin says: "I don't think that Bush himself is especially anti-gay"

Nick Confessore is even more forthright: "I believe, though I don't have any firsthand evidence of this, that Bush is not himself anti-gay"

Look, these are ways of softening Bush's image, of making him LESS of a monster. Kevin and Nick didn't make the point you are, Liz: that Bush's cynicism and nihilism are actually worse than genuine homophobia. Josh Marshall kinda comes close to making the point you are, but he argues it properly: he starts with the act and moves backwards to what it says about Bush's character. Kevin and Nick are starting with an assumption about Bush's character (he's not a homophobic nut case) and move from there out to the act.

As for me, a gay man and gay activist of many years' standing, I don't particularly care what kind of bigot Bush is. I don't think it matters what particular motivations impel a landlord, for example, to refuse to rent to a gay couple. The fact is, the gay couple is being discriminated against. The act is what matters here. The consequences of the act, and in this case Bush's particular motivations just don't matter. It's a monstrous act. Bush is a moral monster.

Posted by: Dan Perreten at February 24, 2004 02:30 PM | PERMALINK

Al: the proposed amendment DOESN'T allow civil unions.

keiser: who cares if two "straight" men get married? Marriage, insofar as the state is involved, is a contract between individuals. And there would be no way for the state to distinguish anyway.

Occam's Cuisinart: no, Newsom is, from all available information, not gay. He identifies as straight, and he's married to a woman.

Posted by: bleh at February 24, 2004 02:31 PM | PERMALINK

Have you ever noticed just how frequently Dubya uses the word fabulous?

Bunch of damn closet cases. Every single one.

Posted by: Bobo at February 24, 2004 02:31 PM | PERMALINK

Joe Schmoe: my (very) former neighbor is in this weeks' Newsweek photo spread. It's the lesbian marriage with the two kids and their gay father standing with them.

You should be annoyed that this measure took so long to pass, because 20 years ago she looked hot. (She also had men, women, and cats staying overnight.) Alas, although unlike me she still has all her hair, now it isn't the picture it might have been. :-)

(On 2nd thought, a picture of a schoolteacher lesbian spouse of rather ordinary appearance is probably a better advertisement politically.)

Posted by: Andrew Lazarus at February 24, 2004 02:31 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think he is doing this for conservatives. He's doing it to get a rise out of Democrats and I think he expects a certain response that will help him with voters in the middle.

Posted by: JPB at February 24, 2004 02:32 PM | PERMALINK

> Bush is right - he's got the congressional
> support in Congress to get this passed.

No chance. None. It takes a two-thirs both in both houses, and it simply won't happen in the Senate. I might even be tempted into a wager that it won't happen in the House.

Posted by: Ivor the Engine Driver at February 24, 2004 02:33 PM | PERMALINK

this is another bush bait and switch operation. bash the gays, get a constitutional convention, get a lot of neo-con objectives changed while they are at it. why not for them, hitler did it, and got away with it, because the population was asleep. they might even get Arnie appointed president someday....

Posted by: ross at February 24, 2004 02:36 PM | PERMALINK

The timing of the announcement is another shrewd move by Rove. Bush had to do this, or there'd be a mighty backlash from the hardcore, god squad, gospel-thumping right. So he does it now, with the understanding that the Rep[ublican Congressional leadership will sit on it. No debates in the chambers, no hearings, nothing but silence. By the time the election rolls around, it won't be much of an issue for the populace at large. That's Karl's hope, anyway.

Posted by: Ivor the Engine Driver at February 24, 2004 02:40 PM | PERMALINK

" The real genius in Bush's strategy is how Kerry will be forced to react to it. Kerry will have to (a) come out in favor of civil unions, which will make it that much easier to portray him as an extremist liberal who is out of touch with ordiary Americans. However, he'll also have to (b) pretend that he is opposed to gay marriage. This will make him look like a duplicitous politician with his finger in the wind.

At a debate, when someone raises the question of gay marriage, Bush can flatly say "I am opposed to it," but that we should all have compassion for gay Americans, etc.

Kerry, on the other hand, will be forced into the "me, too, but..." position. He'll say "I too oppose gay marriage, but I support civil unions," which everyone knows mean gay marriage. This will make him look like a duplicitious politician who isn't willing to come right out and say what he really means, namely that he supports gay marraige."

I think this is about right, Joe. Bush was going to make reassuring noises about a marriage amendment until the SF mayor forced his hand. An analogy might be Clinton on Kyoto. He supported it with talk but never submitted it to the Senate for ratification. Now he can beat Kerry over the head with it and after the election it will disappear. The gays will hurt Kerry with this. Everybody could agree on civil unions but the activists have to ram it down everyone else's throat (sorry about the imagery).

Posted by: Mike K at February 24, 2004 02:41 PM | PERMALINK

> does this mean that bush is dropping cheney,
> whose daughter must be acutely embarrassed by
> this deeply political gesture?

They jbought her silence with a six-figure job.

Posted by: Ivor the Engine Driver at February 24, 2004 02:41 PM | PERMALINK

Al: the proposed amendment DOESN'T allow civil unions.

I understand there is some controversy about what one particular wording means. Regardless, Bush said that he favors and amendment that would permit civil unions:

"Bush also said state legislatures should be left to define "legal arrangements other than marriage," suggesting that such an amendment would let states allow civil unions for same-sex couples."

http://www.cnn.com/2004/ALLPOLITICS/02/24/elec04.prez.bush.marriage/index.html

Posted by: Al at February 24, 2004 02:42 PM | PERMALINK

This ain't a Chewbacca defense - Bush didn't pick this ground, the left did.

Actually the U.S. Supreme Court did in a 6-3 decision.

If two gay men can marry than all other men want equal protection. Two heterosexual men will have the right to marry.

Today both gay men and heterosexual men can't marry each other...you want to end that by only allowing the two gay men to marry but not the two heterosexual men - -THERE GOES EQUAL PROTECTION OUT THE WINDOW.

Then the two heterosexual men would have the same rights as the gays will now enjoy in San Franscisco.

Can you tell me what drugs you are using so that I can avoid them?

Posted by: Another Bruce at February 24, 2004 02:42 PM | PERMALINK

Bush must be saying to himself these days, "thank God for homosexuals. Why, it just doesn't work anymore to put down the black folks. "

Bush is just trying to change the subject. And, judging by the comments to this post, it's working. The Dems need to focus on the issues that are going to bring Bush down. I wouldn't count on this one issue to be one of those issues.

Posted by: tstreet at February 24, 2004 02:44 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely wrote -
That's Amendment 14, and a newer Amendment supercedes an older one, so, no, it wouldn't. The proposed FMA would essentially remove marriage from any protection under the 14th Amendment.

True, but the funny thing is, the FMA could end up removing all legal aspects of marriage.

The FMA does not explicitly revoke the 14th amendment. Thus, If it can be successfully argued that the 14th amendment requires that same-sex couples have the same right to marriage as mixed-sex couples, the only option under the FMA combined with the 14th would be do remove all legal recognition of marriage.

Posted by: whoever at February 24, 2004 02:47 PM | PERMALINK

Marriage, insofar as the state is involved, is a contract between individuals.

No, its not. Its between two individual and the state, although the latter part gets lost too much these days. If it weren't, there would be no basis for public benefits attaching to it.

Really, the problem with marriage isn't that gay people can have it, its that the idea that it involves a public obligation of mutual support has largely fallen out of our culture.

Posted by: cmdicely at February 24, 2004 02:49 PM | PERMALINK

Someone asked if Gavin Newsom is gay.

No, he isn't. He is married to a woman named Kimberly Guilfoyle Newsom, formerly a San Francisco Deputy District Attorney, about to become a commentator for Court TV.

Posted by: Annie at February 24, 2004 02:49 PM | PERMALINK

Obe, Al, you're dead wrong about the effect of the FMA. It would indeed ban civil unions. Here's very clear explanation by a Yale law professor.

Posted by: bad Jim at February 24, 2004 02:50 PM | PERMALINK

Posted above:

"Well, I think that's two different things. Supporting the amendment is unquestionably an anti-gay act, but it doesn't necessarily mean Bush is anti-gay himself. In some ways it would be worse: he's willing to support immoral actions even when he doesn't believe the underlying philosophy himself."

Didn't Bill do that with the Defense of Marriage Act? Doesn't make it right, of course.

Posted by: Ugh at February 24, 2004 02:50 PM | PERMALINK

jimm wrote:

"It's that simple. Marriage doesn't need government. Why does government, and President Bush, need marriage? Think about it."

One thing that tends to be overlooked in these debates is the separation between religious marriage and civil marriage. I think that hammering on the CIVIL aspects again and again and again and again are what just might make a crack on the emotional responses that make otherwise-reasonable people screech when they hear the term "gay marriage".

(Just let me add that, as a gay man in Texas, I was fully intending to call the sheriff's office each and every time my sweetie and I decided to enjoy some mutual conjugation in case we lost the Lawrence case, just to highlight the hypocrisy in having a law in the books that was so utterly, rarely enforced, but used as a bludgeon and excuse to attempt to deny gayfolk rights and benefits and responsibilities even the lowest of straight people were granted.
I'm still trying to figure out the equivalent form of reaction should an anti-gay-marriage amendment come to pass. Probably check in with the Universal Unitarians -- they'll marry two atheists, right?)

Posted by: Clay Colwell at February 24, 2004 02:50 PM | PERMALINK

The marriages in San Francisco will probably be voided.

I wouldn't bet either way.

Only a court can declare a law unconstitutional and the mayor exceeded his authority.

The mayor didn't declare a law unconstitutional, he acted on his belief that it was unconstitutional and therefore void, the state objected to the results, and the city sued the state to get the courts to invalidate the law. That's the way these kinds of issues get into court, and that's how courts invalidate them.

Posted by: cmdicely at February 24, 2004 02:52 PM | PERMALINK

Conservative Definition of Compassion:

Put 'em on a rack and make em squeal until they confess; then their souls will be saved!

Posted by: Occam's Cuisinart at February 24, 2004 02:53 PM | PERMALINK


Creating Civil Unions as an alternative to marriage sounds to me like "seperate but equal" all over again.

Of course.

It permits the masses to remain complacent in their homophobic Jesus crap while still respecting themselves as regular human beings of good will.

Never mind that intellectually respectable seminary professors have been denouncing this kind of theology for more than a century now; as soon as newly minted clergy graduate and emerge into the professional world, they discover that, whatever their personal beliefs, or however much better they have been taught, they have no financial choice but to keep on pumping out the same old message of fear, jealousy, and hatred. To do otherwise is simply awful for business.

Posted by: xfrosch at February 24, 2004 02:53 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely -

It's usually a private citizen who disobeys a law and then sues to get it declared unconstitutional. Here Newsom, mayor of the City of San Franscisco, sworn to uphold the laws (even the ones he doesn't like), actively violating at least one (and apparently many more). Not the usual process.

Posted by: Ugh at February 24, 2004 02:54 PM | PERMALINK

True, but the funny thing is, the FMA could end up removing all legal aspects of marriage.

Well, yes, since it explicitly bans any provision of law from requiring states to grant "marital status" to "unmarried couples", it certainly at least destroys any right to marry whatsoever, and possibly destroys any legal basis for future marriages (although it probably leaves current marriages in place)

The FMA does not explicitly revoke the 14th amendment.

It explicitly limits the application of all conflicting portions of the Constitution, though.

Thus, If it can be successfully argued that the 14th amendment requires that same-sex couples have the same right to marriage as mixed-sex couples, the only option under the FMA combined with the 14th would be do remove all legal recognition of marriage.

I don't think you are reading it right; I think the plain language overrides any previous Constitutional provision.

Posted by: cmdicely at February 24, 2004 02:55 PM | PERMALINK

xfrosch-

Funny, the religious people I know volunteer in homeless shelters and hospices, gather food and clothing for the needy, raise money for schools and hospitals, and send missionaries overseas to help those who are really badly off.

But thanks to you, I know understand that religion is really nothing more than fear, jealousy, hated and bigotry. Thank you, oh enlightened one, for lifting my veil of ignorance. I am glad that morally and intellectually superior beings like you are here to bring justice to poor benighted folks like me.

Posted by: Joe Schmoe at February 24, 2004 02:58 PM | PERMALINK

> Here Newsom, mayor of the City of San
> Franscisco, sworn to uphold the laws (even the
> ones he doesn't like), actively violating at
> least one (and apparently many more). Not the
> usual process.

He saw a perceived wrong and commited an act of civil disobedience. Very American of him. He has my respect and my thanks.

Posted by: Ivor the Engine Driver at February 24, 2004 02:59 PM | PERMALINK

It's usually a private citizen who disobeys a law and then sues to get it declared unconstitutional.

Actually, its not at all uncommon for officials at different levels of government to have disputes of the Constitutionality of the regulation of one level applying to the other, and for them to end up in court just like this.

Here Newsom, mayor of the City of San Franscisco, sworn to uphold the laws (even the ones he doesn't like), actively violating at least one (and apparently many more). Not the usual process.

That is rather in dispute -- which is the point of disagreement. A statute that is not Constitutional is not a law, and the oath taken by public officials in this state is to the federal and state constitutions, and to duties of the office. It is, in fact, the usual process -- you could fill a large book with the lawsuits between California local governments and the state over the respective powers of each under the State Constitution. This is an unusually sensitive issue, but that's about the only way it is unique.

Posted by: cmdicely at February 24, 2004 03:00 PM | PERMALINK

Brutual and cynical. But all dictators (leaders who are not popularly elected) turn on their people (or conveniently targeted minorities therein) to shore up their shaky positions. The Bush administration is becoming increasingly desperate - expect much worse before November

Posted by: Trevor Cook at February 24, 2004 03:01 PM | PERMALINK

> I don't think you are reading it right; I think the plain language overrides any previous Constitutional provision.

No simple legislative act overrides the Constitution.

Posted by: Ivor the Engine Driver at February 24, 2004 03:01 PM | PERMALINK

This could get very ugly. If the race stays close or Bush is losing, diatribes against homosexuals could result in gay bashing by the holy, brown shirts who form Bush's core constituency on a scale never seen in this country.
Because W,et al have to be aware of this fact, supporting the amendment can be viewed as desparate.
They may be trying to tap into the gut-level aversion that many have to gay sex, even if those who are repulsed are moderate or liberal. This is not about marriage this is about getting votes at any price. America's sense of itself as decent could evaporate, if this reckless, calculated maneuver unleashes one of the darker impulses of human nature...the urge to destroy that which is not understood.
If we wake up with blood on our hands it won't wash off easily.

Posted by: MikeK at February 24, 2004 03:03 PM | PERMALINK

Ivor the Engine Driver -

He abused his position of power to do what he wanted.

Posted by: Ugh at February 24, 2004 03:03 PM | PERMALINK

> expect much worse before November

Expect the Tsar's strategy of picking a fight with another furrin enemy of God and Righteousness. North Korea? Iran?

Posted by: Ivor the Engine Driver at February 24, 2004 03:04 PM | PERMALINK

"Obe, Al, you're dead wrong about the effect of the FMA. It would indeed ban civil unions. Here's very clear explanation by a Yale law professor."

Bush did not endorse that amendment today. that was intentional. He did state he would support allowing civil unions. The same professor you cite acknowledges this at his web site. The FMA is just a draft, a political draft at that. The congress can adopt any damn thing it pleases.

It will adopt one that allows civil unions, and Kerry will have to explain his opposition to it. I hope he manages to show what this is really all about before we get there, or bush will win on this by taking the same position as Kerry on the core issue, and hence looking moderate, but backing an amendment that feeds his base.

Posted by: obe at February 24, 2004 03:04 PM | PERMALINK

> He abused his position of power to do what he wanted.

Perhaps. But we don't dis the boys for tossing that tea into the Boston harbor, do we? Nope, because revolutionary acts of civil disobedience are as American as apple pie.

Posted by: Ivor the Engine Driver at February 24, 2004 03:06 PM | PERMALINK

Meanwhile, in Washington, Andrew Sullivan prepared a statement explaining how he has reconsidered his enthusiastic support for "pro-gay" Arnie the Eagle, Slayer of the Evil Gray Davis.

*crickets*

Posted by: vaara at February 24, 2004 03:06 PM | PERMALINK

MikeK-

Come on. I very much doubt that this will lead to anti-gay violence and pogroms. You are just being paranoid.

Posted by: Joe Schmoe at February 24, 2004 03:06 PM | PERMALINK

Ugh,
In CA, various cities have been fighting the federal government over the use of marijuana for medical use. Made into state law by voter proposition, the growing and use of marijuana is legal for medicinal purposes. It's been cities and counties following it, knowing it conflicts with federal law. So I don't think it's completely unprecedented to have elected officials choosing not to follow laws in the desire to have them reviewed by courts.

Posted by: jane at February 24, 2004 03:07 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely -

I don't think he's suing saying that under the state constition SF has the power to decide who gets married and not the state legislature, which is what I would guess the usual disputes between state and local are under the state constitution. He's making a completely different argument and in any event, doesn't the lawsuit come before actually violating a law, or at least there is an injunction issued against the offending statute?

Posted by: Ugh at February 24, 2004 03:07 PM | PERMALINK

Obe, Al, you're dead wrong about the effect of the FMA. It would indeed ban civil unions. Here's very clear explanation by a Yale law professor.

Well, as I posted above, there is a controversy about what that language means. You've linked to one side of the controversy. There are other sides to the controversy, which you can find on NRO or other pro-amendment sites.

But, more importantly, you are deliberately ignoring what Bush said in his speech: he supports an amendment that would permit civil unions. So if the amendment does not permit civil unions, I would expect Bush not to support it. I note in any case that the President does not have a formal role in the amendment process; he does not need to sign the amendment, for example.

What I'm still trying to figure out is KERRY'S position on all of this. He opposes gay marriage. He opposes the Massachusetts court's opinion. He is open to civil unions, although I don't think he's said whether he'd vote for a bill like Vermont's - we don't really know. And he is apparently completely ignorant of what's going on in SF ("I haven't made any judgment about it. I haven't really kept up with exactly what [Newsome] is doing"
http://nypost.com/news/nationalnews/18881.htm) -- and some people said that Bush is the ignorant one!

Posted by: Al at February 24, 2004 03:11 PM | PERMALINK

Delay is signaling the strategy in a quote I found at Talking Points:

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, said he appreciated Bush's "moral leadership" on the issue, but expressed caution about moving too quickly toward a constitutional solution, and never directly supported one. "This is so important we're not going to take a knee-jerk reaction to this," Delay said. "We are going to look at our options and we are going to be deliberative about what solutions we may suggest."

Posted by: Ivor the Engine Driver at February 24, 2004 03:12 PM | PERMALINK

Since when did so-called gay marriage become a right?

I have a right to basic health care...but as a man am I entitled to a cesarian section?

What,,, your opposed to male ceasarian section? Well you bigots.

A marriage has a definition, change the definition, you change marriage simple as that.

Posted by: Keiser at February 24, 2004 03:12 PM | PERMALINK

Regarding the culture war;

Did anyone say "Bring it on !" yet ?
:)

Posted by: ch2 at February 24, 2004 03:12 PM | PERMALINK

GOP Debate on the Larry King show from Feb 15, 2000.

"Q: So if you have gays working for you, that’s fine and you don’t have a problem-you’d appoint gays in the Cabinet and so forth.
A: Well, I’m not going to ask what their sexual orientation is. I’m going to put conservative people in the cabinet. It’s none of my business what somebody’s [orientation is]. Now, when somebody makes it my business, like on gay marriage, I’m going to stand up and say I don’t support gay marriage. I support marriage between men and women.
Q: So therefore if a state were voting on gay marriage, you would suggest to that state not to approve it.
A: The state can do what they want to do. Don’t try to trap me in this state’s issue."

What changed?

More on my recently started (and shamelessly plugged) blog at gayissues.blogspot.com

Posted by: TomK2434 at February 24, 2004 03:13 PM | PERMALINK

Bush's call for an amendment to the constitution is a great large wedge driver.

Kerry and Edwards are against gay marriage, but Ralph Nader supports it.

This ain't rocket science.

Did you know that in 1776, the prevailing mode of marriage in the world was polygyny? Not monogamy, one man and one woman, but one man and more than one woman.

The founding fathers left marriage out of the constitution because they had no doubt that it was a church issue. Marriage was the realm of the rich; average people did not get married.

Posted by: Carrie at February 24, 2004 03:15 PM | PERMALINK

Today both gay men and heterosexual men can't marry each other...you want to end that by only allowing the two gay men to marry but not the two heterosexual men - -THERE GOES EQUAL PROTECTION OUT THE WINDOW.

Then the two heterosexual men would have the same rights as the gays will now enjoy in San Franscisco.

I'm pretty sure that San Francisco doesn't inquire into sexual orientation when you apply for a marriage license. Two heterosexual men can get married to one another.

I can think of several reasons other than mockery that this might happen. For example, say A and B are a hetero couple with an infant child C, who have designated single hetero male D as C's guardian in the event of their death, and E is the single hetero male brother of B. A and B die in an accident, C comes into D's guardianship. D has no other family of his own, but is close with the A-B-E family. E and D are secure in their manhoods, they get along, but they could really use some of the 1,049 benefits of civil marriage to help take care of C, plus E would really like to pick up chicks by taking C to the park. Why not get married?

Posted by: Hamilton Lovecraft at February 24, 2004 03:16 PM | PERMALINK

No simple legislative act overrides the Constitution.

. . . well, what about Executive Orders? What about activist judges who support bogus legislation like the USA PATRIOT Act (which violates the 4th amendment like a Columbine Cheerleader)?

They may be trying to tap into the gut-level aversion that many have to gay sex, even if those who are repulsed are moderate or liberal.

Mike - it's even sillier than that. Lesbian sex is mainstream porn (as long as the Lesbians look like straight chicks). Most guys *DIG* lesbian sex. (as long as those same women aren't against being submissive to men). On the other hand, as a straight man with his finger on the pulse of the local lesbian community here in rural California - lesbians HATE gay men, and the idea of gay male sex is repulsive to them. (that's representative of all three lesbians I personally know :). There *IS* a gut-level aversion to male gay sex. It goes way beyond what's codified in the Bible. I think it goes all the way to the biological dominance/submission instinct. It's inherently a submissive act, and will always engender scorn from people who lean towards dominance.

Posted by: Occam's Cuisinart at February 24, 2004 03:19 PM | PERMALINK

The "culture war" croaked Bush I in '92. It'll croak Bush II in '04. The Republican party cannot withstand the tension between its religious/authoritarian and libertarian wings. Something has to give.

Posted by: Don at February 24, 2004 03:21 PM | PERMALINK

Well at least this puts an end to divorce...why get divorced when you can just marry again and the state can't regulate who gets to marry who...you just add another name to the license.

But if someone files for divorce..what would the grounds possibly be??? If a marriage is anything..then divorce doesn't need to exist.

Posted by: keiser at February 24, 2004 03:22 PM | PERMALINK

The relevant quote regarding Newsom's civil disobedience comes from Ralph Waldo Emerson, in regard to a strikingly-similar federal act:

"By God, I will not obey this filthy enactment!"

Posted by: Chris Leithiser at February 24, 2004 03:26 PM | PERMALINK

The rights for same sex couples partnered in a civil union are vastly different than those of a traditional couple and will continue to be so until equality is achieved on a federal level. The right wing members of the Bush cartel spout that they just want to preserve marriage as they see it. That is fine, I don't agree with it but it is fine. If they are truly not bigoted why are they not presenting actual equality? Joined under a civil union does not provide any federal benefits that a husband and wife have financially at death. A civil union does not all parners to transfer assests to the other at death free of taxes. A civil union partnership does not allow the surviving member a claim to death benefits of social security. Just like education separate but equal will never work equality will only be achieved through complete acceptance. How does two men or women marrying threaten my upcoming marriage? It doesn't, not in the least. If it did than I am surely marrying the wrong person. This administration is apparently trying to prove that the failed experiments of past republicans never should have failed before. They have tried to bring us back to supply side economics despite the evidence suggesting that outside of an economic model it fails and miserably so. It is kind of like Marxism in that as a theory it seems to work but in reality it burns to the ground because it takes all citizens to buy it as the truth. Now they are trying to say that separate but equal does work but all it really does is offically classify those of an alternative sexuality as second class citizens. If homosexuality is truly a choice and a mistake as these wing nuts vow, then Cheney failed miserably in leading his own daughter, what the hell is he doing helping to lead a country. It may be a choice or it may not be the science is still out on that, but what should not be in dispute is the right to pursue happiness in a manner that does not hurt anyone else. We need a leader for this country not a cult that derives their social policy from their god speaking to them.

Posted by: Randy at February 24, 2004 03:27 PM | PERMALINK

"A marriage has a definition, change the definition, you change marriage simple as that."

There are numerous definitions for marriage. If you hold to the "one man, one woman" definition then mothers and sons, fathers and daughters, brothers and sisters, should be able to marry.


Bush

Posted by: Carrie at February 24, 2004 03:27 PM | PERMALINK

> No simple legislative act overrides the Constitution.

>>. . . well, what about Executive Orders? What
>> about activist judges who support bogus
>> legislation like the USA PATRIOT Act (which
>> violates the 4th amendment like a Columbine
>> Cheerleader)?

Nothing legally trumps the Connie. There are mechanisms built into the system that were supposed to ensure it remained our essential law. Republicans have put enough rightwing culture warriers on the bench to, however, trump those.

Posted by: Ivor the Engine Driver at February 24, 2004 03:28 PM | PERMALINK
I don't think he's suing saying that under the state constition SF has the power to decide who gets married and not the state legislature, which is what I would guess the usual disputes between state and local are under the state constitution.

The basis for claiming that the state lacks authority for a particular law varies from case to case; sometimes its jurisdictional, as you suggest, sometimes its that the content of the law fails constitutional muster, rather than a question of what level of authority has the power.

He's making a completely different argument and in any event, doesn't the lawsuit come before actually violating a law, or at least there is an injunction issued against the offending statute?

No. Usually, courts won't take a case unless there is a real rather than prospective dispute; a real dispute usually occurs when one side tries to enforce a law and the other side disagrees that it is a valid law. Sometimes a prospective conflict might warrant an injunction, this requires not only that the court agree that the law is invalid (actually, a preliminary rather than permanent injunction requires only a likelihood of success on that grounds), but in any case that the party asking for relief in advance would suffer irreperable harm if the injunction were not granted in advance. Its hard to see that anyone suffers irreperable harm if the State refuses to honor the licenses until a final court decision is rendered. There may be harm, but it is not generally irreperable, particularly the harm suffered by the City and County of San Francisco.

Posted by: cmdicely at February 24, 2004 03:28 PM | PERMALINK

"The "culture war" croaked Bush I in '92. It'll croak Bush II in '04. The Republican party cannot withstand the tension between its religious/authoritarian and libertarian wings. Something has to give."

Who do you think won't vote for Bush because of his call for a constitutional amendment who was going to vote for Bush? Aside from Andrew Sullivan.

I'll bet you $5 that even Log Cabin Republicans will come out in support of Bush and say "National security is too important to leave to the Democrats."

Posted by: Carrie at February 24, 2004 03:33 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely -

I think I meant that it doesn't seem to me that the usual posture of the state v. local cases is that the state passes a law and then the locality openly and blatantly flouts it (and gets to continue to do so as the case moves forward). Usually it seems more civil than that (e.g. state passes law and locality says you can't and then there is a court case over whether state can do that, I'm not sure the usual standing/case or controversy rules apply in these kinds of disputes). And I was being sloppy on injunctions.

In any event, it seems to me that even in cases where a law is blatantly unconstitional, that local officials follow it until they are either told not to do so by a judge or the law is repealed/declared unconstitutional.

Posted by: Ugh at February 24, 2004 03:37 PM | PERMALINK

Wouldn't an amendment to PROTECT marriage prohibit divorce?

Posted by: Guy Lombardo at February 24, 2004 03:38 PM | PERMALINK

The End Of The Beginning

For better or worse, I’m not acquainted with any passionate opponents of gay marriage, so I have few resources for judging how such opponents view their beliefs and themselves in the larger contexts of progressive politics, constitutional precedent, or human liberty. But every single member of the political and journalistic establishment that supports the Federal Marriage Amendment has explicitly admitted that they see this as their last chance to stop the spread of this "peculiar institution;" that without the FMA, some "activist" judiciary might decide that Equal Protection actually means Equal Protection and thus require a state to acknowledge the human dignity present in an incident of gay marriage. In asserting such urgency, proponents of the FMA are both wrong and right.

They are wrong in the legal sense, and here is where I would hope the Democratic nominee will seek the safety that Bill Clinton provided for him. As much as I was dismayed by the Federal Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, the Act clearly permits the states to refuse to recognize marriages, civil unions, or other "proceeding . . . respecting a relationship between persons of the same sex" from other states. So the claim that, say, Texas will have to honor same-sex unions solemnized in Vermont or Hawaii is entirely false. At present, 38 states have already legislatively defined marriage as an exclusively heterosexual province, but even if (out of some anti-democratic, social-engineering, moral-relativistic "activism") more state supreme courts follow the path of the Massachusetts Supreme Court and find such legislation to be in violation of their state constitutions, the states are still free to amend their own constitutions as they see fit without requiring other states to recognize their policies. The Democrats (and sane Republicans, if they like) can and should safely state, "Marriage has never been an issue for the federal government, and we don’t see why it should be one now. Amending the U.S. Constitution is never to be taken lightly, and this issue simply doesn’t rise to the required level of urgency." This position is legally sound, factually true, and will compare favorably with the more hysterical advocates that we can expect to hear far too much from in the coming months.

Proponents of the FMA are right, however, when they say that they cannot allow even a single enclave of gay marriage to endure within the Republic; the example of a community that officially endorses the rights of gays and lesbians to enjoy all the benefits of society will be ultimately corrosive to the institutionalized bigotry that imagines marriage needs "defending" and produces such shameful legislation. The manifest absurdity will bring it all crashing down. It is helpful to remember that the Secession Crisis of 1860 was provoked not by an attempt by the Federal government to abolish slavery in the South, but by the election of a presidential candidate who advocated merely the prohibition of slavery in newly-admitted states. The South feared the diminution of their electoral power (60% of their slaves counted towards representation, remember), but more than that they feared the successful examples set by non-slave states; they wanted to restrict the liberty of others because the exercise of that liberty humiliated them. Had the South simply accepted Lincoln’s program, it is likely that they could have maintained slavery in their own states for many more years. Instead, they listened to the counsel of their pride and their fears.

Note that I don’t imagine George W. Bush to be a homophobic bigot, any more than I think he believes that there were nuclear weapons in Iraq, or that abstinence-only sex education is the best way to prevent teen pregnancy, or that 60 is the precisely ethical number of stem cell lines with which to conduct experiments. I do think that Karl Rove approved today’s announcement while mindful that a) this controversy has legs that will be helpfully distracting over the summer and fall, and b) the Bush Administration needn’t actually do anything about it until well after the election. Putting the FMA formally on the table also chills legal challenges to state-level legislation; if it looks like the U.S. Constitution will override any amendments to state constitution (either for or against gay marriage), few people will get behind such projects.

We are in for a struggle that will be costly in terms of industry, treasure, and spirit. Thanks to Bush’s shot at Fort Sumter, however, we have the comfort of knowing that our opponents have declared themselves to be the enemies of dignity.

Posted by: Eric Scharf at February 24, 2004 03:43 PM | PERMALINK

Two thoughts:

1. I'd love to think we Democrats are smart enough to engage in the kind of strategic positioning suggested by many posters, but that seems unlikely here. We're not trying to start a culture war, we're just seeking what we believe is right.

2. This issue has the potential to catalyze a significant new wave of civil disobedience. If anyone has specific suggestions for how a straight middle-aged man like me could act-up, please share them. (I have a dozen American flags in stock for burning should THAT amendment ever rear its ugly head.)

Cheers!

Posted by: jim at February 24, 2004 03:47 PM | PERMALINK

"""The "culture war" croaked Bush I in '92"""

Ohh yeah, that did it.... not Ross Perot...yeah that 43 percent was everyone rushing to vote for Clinton.

Posted by: Keiser at February 24, 2004 03:51 PM | PERMALINK
Usually it seems more civil than that (e.g. state passes law and locality says you can't and then there is a court case over whether state can do that, I'm not sure the usual standing/case or controversy rules apply in these kinds of disputes).

They do, generally. And, hey, there are local governments in California involved in arranging medical marijuana production and distribution operations, which are the same type of thing, although on a local v. federal level (with the added bonus that courts have ruled that federal drug laws remain in effect despite the state medical marijuana law).


In any event, it seems to me that even in cases where a law is blatantly unconstitional, that local officials follow it until they are either told not to do so by a judge or the law is repealed/declared unconstitutional.

There are cases where that is true. There are cases where it isn't. Really, it depends on the type of law. Sometimes its over money, and usually, when a dispute arrives, whoever has their hands on it at the beginning keeps it until the other side gets a court order. Other times, well, it depends.

Posted by: cmdicely at February 24, 2004 03:58 PM | PERMALINK

"""The "culture war" croaked Bush I in '92"""

Ohh yeah, that did it.... not Ross Perot...yeah that 43 percent was everyone rushing to vote for Clinton.

Actually, I suspect that disdain for the culture war drove a lot of fiscal conservatives not interested in "culture war" to side with Perot.

Posted by: cmdicely at February 24, 2004 03:59 PM | PERMALINK

After watching BBC World this evening, I’ve come to conclusion that the Democratic nominee’s best response will be that Bush is abusing the Constitution, for no other reason, to further his own political future because it will take as many as 5 years to resolve all of the marriage licenses that have been issued in California. He has to be incredibly desperate to resort to such a thing---something that will only appeal to his base. While it appears that a slight majority of Americans oppose gay marriage vehemently, the majority would oppose their Constitution being used to further one individual’s political future even more vehemently.

Posted by: Babba at February 24, 2004 04:05 PM | PERMALINK

Hey NASCAR fans with no jobs! Look! Homos!

Posted by praktike

Fuck off, asshole. I'm a liberal with a master's degree (and a job) and I love NASCAR.

Posted by: Ricky Rudd Rules! at February 24, 2004 04:05 PM | PERMALINK

I mean, in Feb
2000, how many of you REALLY thought that gun control would be as
important as it turned out to be in Nov 2000?
Not to burst your buble, Al, but the Republicans pick a wedge issue every election year in order to chip away at conservative Democrats. Astute political observers (not me, but I know a few) had Gay marriage pegged as 2004's wedge issue a year ago.

Posted by: Boronx at February 24, 2004 04:21 PM | PERMALINK

Bush was not particularly clear in his speech concerning what sort of amendment he would prefer. He ask Congress to draft such an amendment, just to pass it. The speech could be taken to support the FMA.

Posted by: bad Jim at February 24, 2004 04:22 PM | PERMALINK

He did not ask Congress to draft

Sorry.

Posted by: bad Jim at February 24, 2004 04:24 PM | PERMALINK

whoever that "keiser" ass is, he needs his head examined. He says that two heterosexual men could be married. who cares? neat. do they check if het opposite sex couples love each other before they wed? how could they? would it matter? what's the freaking difference?

i'm amazed that people think there's something to defend here. all there is is the tattered remnants of an ancient moral dictatorship. we're moving on, baby. this whole thing shouldn't even be the state's business anyways!

and keiser, seriously, START TAKING YOUR MEDS, your caps lock key is stuck.

Posted by: garth at February 24, 2004 04:25 PM | PERMALINK

How will this, as they say, play in Peoria?

I'll assume this -- from further upstream -- was meant more as state-neutral comment, because no way, no how will Bush carry Illinois.

But to the larger point - look no further than Hizzoner, Mayor Daley.

Yes - Daley is a Dem from a big city... certainly not small town USA - but Daley walks and talks the "common man" line.

If a rough-edged, beer-at-the-corner-saloon Catholic can provide a full-throated defense of extending equal rights to homosexuals, then frankly... the battle may not be yet won, but the tide has unmistakenly turned against bigotry and religious fanaticism and towards the princples of liberty.

Posted by: zonk at February 24, 2004 04:27 PM | PERMALINK

An AP story has this quote:

White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Bush believes that amendment legislation submitted by Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, R-Colo., meets his principles in protecting the "sanctity of marriage" between men and women. But Bush did not specifically embrace any particular legislation.
Posted by: bad Jim at February 24, 2004 04:34 PM | PERMALINK
> does this mean that bush is dropping cheney,
> whose daughter must be acutely embarrassed by
> this deeply political gesture?
They jbought her silence with a six-figure job.
Is a six-figure job enough to compensate for never getting sex again for the rest of your life? At least not without changing your name?

Posted by: Andrew Lazarus at February 24, 2004 04:44 PM | PERMALINK

There are no voters in the center. The strategy is now clear: it is the "base", the whole "base", and nothing but the "base". And they are, like it or not, 50% +/- epsilon. But so are we. And we are going to have to fight them off like fire ants: one at a time, in every precinct, on a playing field that has seen leveller times.

If, on the other hand, anyone on Rove's team really believes in the 70% Fallacy, then they're going down.

Posted by: Frank Wilhoit at February 24, 2004 04:57 PM | PERMALINK

The culture war may have failed Bush I in 1992 but Willie Horton worked for him in 1988. The Bush family is shameless!

Posted by: dapman at February 24, 2004 05:11 PM | PERMALINK

Schmoe:

Good for you and all your virtuous fellow Christians.

I knew a lot of good people in the church too (not that I ever claimed to be one of them). But usually they were there in spite of Christianity rather than because of it.

Posted by: xfrosch at February 24, 2004 05:21 PM | PERMALINK

Damn! I'm late on this one.
Question: "And why did he feel like he had to do it?"

Answer: ROY MOORE ROY MOORE ROY MOORE

Posted by: Dinkus at February 24, 2004 05:33 PM | PERMALINK

Folks,

The culture wars are beautiful for Republicans. It will lead to more Dem hair-splitting. Everyone knows that Kerry doesn't dig on discrimination, so what happens when Kerry's opponent takes the opposing view? More weak-kneed liberal pandering. Do you want this man to be your president during a war? You want your lives and those of your children in the hands of someone who won't say what he's for and follow through with it?

[Never mind that walking the walk is Bush's problem - everyone will be confused by Kerry not giving a soundbite, while Bush appears to be leading.]

Posted by: rooser04 at February 24, 2004 05:59 PM | PERMALINK

Are the culture wars really good for Republicans if they lose them? And if demographics (young people favoring gay marriage more than older people) are against them? I guess if you measure "good for Republicans" in terms of voters in November, yes... But I don't think they're going to get the society they say they favor.

Posted by: Sugar Plum Fairy at February 24, 2004 07:30 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, I don't get why you think that George W. or his advisors aren't especially anti-gay. Can you give us any examples of how they aren't? Do we have to get marched off to Camp Ashcroft for reeducation and conversion therapy before you believe it?

Posted by: sue at February 24, 2004 08:08 PM | PERMALINK

Well, we're no longet talking about his guard duty.

It worked.

Posted by: Matthew Saroff at February 24, 2004 08:15 PM | PERMALINK

On the other hand, as a straight man with his finger on the pulse of the local lesbian community here in rural California - lesbians HATE gay men, and the idea of gay male sex is repulsive to them. (that's representative of all three lesbians I personally know :).

Most of the straight and bisexual women I know -- a lot more than three -- think gay male sex is hot. You might look at the viewer demographics for "Queer As Folk" for more data.

There *IS* a gut-level aversion to male gay sex. [...] I think it goes all the way to the biological dominance/submission instinct. It's inherently a submissive act, and will always engender scorn from people who lean towards dominance.

How can a sex act between two people be submissive for both?

The perception that gay male sex is "inherently a submissive act" is due to "the fear that dare not speak its name": male fear of being raped by a male. The perception comes from the conflation of sex with rape.

I assert that anyone who doesn't understand the difference between sex and rape has no business having a sex life of their own, let alone judging mine.

Posted by: Hamilton Lovecraft at February 24, 2004 09:34 PM | PERMALINK

Carrie:

I'll bet you $5 that even Log Cabin Republicans will come out in support of Bush and say "National security is too important to leave to the Democrats."

Nope. This "wedge issue" that was gonna divide the Democrats just cost Bush about a million votes.

http://www.lcr.org/press/20040211.asp

Posted by: Hamilton Lovecraft at February 24, 2004 09:44 PM | PERMALINK

Dear Hamilton,

"This "wedge issue" that was gonna divide the Democrats just cost Bush about a million votes."

I hope you're right. Time, however, has a way of dampening passions.

Even before Bush's announcement today, I fully expected him to pull another "surprise" (like his father's and Reagan's October one) to artificially and temporarily boost his support to win the election.

Somewhere within a Log Cabin Republican's psyche, he's got to know that any President so supported by Robertson and Falwell followers has got to be a homophobe who is against gay rights. Today's announcement couldn't have been much of any surprise.

If Log Cabin Republicans have been able to lie to themselves about that, they're capable of eating an even bigger portion of denial when Bush allows something to happen right before the election to get voters to rally behind the President.

Posted by: Carrie at February 24, 2004 10:24 PM | PERMALINK

The Log Cabin Republicans have let out a pained Dean-like scream, but they are still backing Bush. They have not made the break, and my guess is they won't.

Their best case scenario as far as advancing gay rights/acceptance within the party is that they stand by Bush as loyal republicans, and he loses, in part because of his stand in this issue. Their worst case is they oppose him and he wins.

Posted by: obe at February 24, 2004 11:20 PM | PERMALINK

Occam claimed: On the other hand, as a straight man with his finger on the pulse of the local lesbian community here in rural California - lesbians HATE gay men, and the idea of gay male sex is repulsive to them. (that's representative of all three lesbians I personally know :).

And speaking as a lesbian, Occam, I neither hate gay men, nor find gay male sex especially repulsive. Nor am I unusual among lesbians in feeling that way - perhaps your friends are going along with your feelings?

There *IS* a gut-level aversion to male gay sex.

If you feel that way, Occam, that's your business. It's none of mine, and I prefer not to make it so. "Gut level aversions" should not be used as the basis for law.

Posted by: Jesurgislac at February 25, 2004 03:45 AM | PERMALINK

Hamilton writes:

Nope. This "wedge issue" that was gonna divide the Democrats just cost Bush about a million votes.

http://www.lcr.org/press/20040211.asp


I read that press release entirely differently. There was no sense that they're going to withhold support for Bush as a presidential candidate. "No matter what happens in the coming months, Log Cabin will stay in the GOP and fight---fight for fairness, liberty and equality." No matter what happens?! It sounds like at least a large chunk of those million votes are staying (and where did that million number come from anyway?)

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