February 24, 2004

Where do I enlist for the culture war?

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at February 24, 2004 11:23 PM

I've been waiting all day to post on the news that President Bush has officially endorsed the Federal Marriage Amendment. For some reason they expect me to do work when I come into lab, so I only now have the opportunity.

First of all I find this unsurprising; he telegraphed this move in the State of the Union Address. On the other hand, he waited more than a week after San Francisco's issuing of marriage licenses to make this statement, which suggests that it wasn't intense anti-gay sentiment in the White House that prompted the move, but rather the concern that all those religious conservatives who used to believe Bush had God's personal endorsement were beginning to have second thoughts. (Which would have been a surprising number of thoughts for some of these people to have.) Is it worse to restrict the rights of millions of citizens because of fanatical hatred, or for votes? I'll leave that one to the philosophers. In any case, the "compassionate conservative" president is speaking out against love, against families, against commitment.

Oddly, CNN claims that the amendment Bush is endorsing allows for civil unions. This is not the case. I, obviously, am no lawyer, but "the legal incidents thereof" seems like pretty clear language banning civil unions as well.

Actually, now that I look at it closely, the second sentence is a bit odd. The most literal parsing appears to be that it is prohibiting laws that require that marital status be conferred on unmarried couples, whether they want it or not. In other words, Kang-style "gay marriages for all".

Announcer: Ladies and Gentlemen, 73-year-old candidate, Bob Dole.
Kang: Abortions for all.
[crowd boos]
Very well, no abortions for anyone.
[crowd boos]
Hmm... Abortions for some, miniature American flags for others.
[crowd cheers and waves miniature flags]
--"Treehouse of Horror VII"

Anyway, that's obviously not what they had in mind with this amendment. I suppose this is why I'm not a lawyer.

Perhaps John Kerry should try "Gay marriages for some, miniature American flags for others." I say that because his actual response was pretty damn weak. In fact, "I oppose gay marriages but won't vote for the FMA" is the weakest response he could possibly give that doesn't outright agree with Bush. Come on, let's see some leadership. His state is the leader in legalizing same-sex marriage; the Bush campaign is going to attack him from that angle anyway, so he might as well take a stand on the right side of the issue.

Personally, angry blogging isn't going to be enough for me on this. I want to take some action and help send this amendment back to hell from whence it came. It's not clear how much I can do, beyond writing to Sens. Boxer and Feinstein and Rep. Tauscher (and I imagine these three are already pretty solid "nay" votes on the amendment). Any suggestions about how I can join the fight are welcomed. (Keeping in mind that they don't pay me very much as a grad student, so generous contributions to the relevant organizations are not possible.)

If you'd like to contact your representatives in Congress, the ACLU will send a fax, letter, or e-mail for you with just a few clicks. (They'll also try to sign you up for their e-mail list, but you can opt out. If, you know, you don't care about your civil liberties.)

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