Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Bigotry: President Bush is reportedly backing an amendment to the Constitution that would ban gay marriage. He has no vote in the matter, but the president is throwing the weight of the White House behind the amendment. For all his talk of Compassionate Conservatism, he's now advocating blatant discrimination.

What's worse, the amendment Bush is supporting goes further than Republicans let on. Backers say the amendment bans same-sex marriage but not civil unions. But that doesn't appear to be the case. Just look at the text of the amendment:

Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution or the constitution of any State, nor state or federal law, shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups.
Pay attention to the wording. No state constitution, nor any state or federal law, can be interpreted to mean that unmarried couples receive the legal incidents, or benefits, of marriage.

That means a state law can explicitly say, "Two men can form a civil union and receive the same benefits that any married couple would receive." But that law could not be enforced if this amendment is added to the Constitution. This would overturn the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruling. And it would probably prevent any state from passing a civil union law similar to what Vermont has.

Despite what the amendment's backers say, any judge will see that "legal incidents thereof" clause and read that marital benefits are prohibited for same-sex couples. And after the amendment passes, it doesn't matter what any politician says, it's up to the Judicial Branch to interpret the law.

What's truly disturbing is that up until this point, amendments to the Constitution have always sought to protect rights and to give people more power. From the Bill of Rights, to the 13th Amendment prohibiting slavery, to the 14th Amendment prohibiting states from infringing on their citizens' rights, to the 15th Amendment prohibiting racial discrimination when it comes to the right to vote, to the 17th Amendment allowing for citizens to have direct elections for their senators, to the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote, to the 26th Amendment lowering the voting age to 18.

The only exception was the 18th Amendment, prohibiting the sale and consumption of liquor. And we all saw how effective prohibition was.

Now, for the first time since the three-fifths compromise, blatant discrimination is being added to the U.S. Constitution. It wasn't there before, so the right-wingers want to codify widespread prejudice against homosexuals so it will be extremely difficult for gays to ever gain basic civil rights in this country.

Whether this will actually pass, however, is another matter. Recent polls on this issue are inconsistent.

A poll by the National Annenberg Election Survey asked: "Would you favor or oppose an amendment to the U.S. Constitution saying that no state can allow two men to marry each other or two women to marry each other?" Of those surveyed, 49 percent opposed an amendment, while 42 percent favored it.

But an Annenberg poll asked, "Would you favor or oppose an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would allow marriage only between a man and a woman?" Worded that way, 59 percent were in favor and 33 percent were opposed.

That's very indicative of the way people respond to positive wording ("allow marriage") versus negative wording ("no state can allow"). Even though this amendment uses positive wording, the message will get out that the amendment is introducing bigotry and discrimination into the Constitution. And considering two-thirds of the House and Senate plus three-fouths of the states need to ratify this amendment for it to become the supreme law of the land, it sounds like it has a difficult chance of passing.

This could be just a political ruse by President Bush. Constitutional amendments are always a good way to take a strong stand on an issue without doing anything meaningful. Only 17 amendments have passed in the past 200-plus years since the adoption of the Bill of Rights, and two of the amendments (concerning prohibition) cancel each other out. Proposals to ban desecration of the American Flag, and other such worthless amendments, have gone nowhere.

But Bush is deciding to make same-sex marriage an election issue, and he'll suffer the consequences, for better or worse.

By the way, The Washington Post article says this:

The White House strategy, designed to minimize alienation of moderate voters, calls for emphasizing that Bush is for traditional marriage, not against gay people.
Nice try, but you're alienating this moderate voter. Hell, and people have accused me of being a Republican, considering all my posts supporting how President Bush is fighting the war on terrorism.

Sen. Kerry, this is your chance. Stand up against this amendment, and start pledging to wield American power to defeat the terrorists and to reform the Middle East, and you might gain some more moderate supporters.


Post a Comment

Copyright © Staunch Moderate
Using Caribou Theme | Bloggerized by Themescook