Monday, June 05, 2006

The War On Marriage

Our Senate, obviously having run out of things to do after solving all of our national problems, chose to begin debating the so-called "Gay Marriage" Amendment today. Actually, the debate was really at the direction of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, who sets the Senate agenda and is firmly ensconced in the Dobson wing of the Republican party. The Republicans are running scared over November and need to bring out the fundamentalist bigots in hopes of saving their Congressional majority. Obviously they believe the lives and well-being of a few million Americans is a small price to pay for more war and tax cuts.

First, here's the text of this most odious bit of legislative repugnance:


Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relating to marriage.

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled (two-thirds of each House concurring therein), That the following article is proposed as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which shall be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution when ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States:

SECTION 1. This article may be cited as the "Marriage Protection Amendment".

SECTION 2. Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman.

I take umbrage right from the start with calling this the "Marriage Protection Amendment". I don't see it that way. In fact, I see it as just the opposite; a war on marriage. The Fundamentalist party (Honestly, what's "republican" about them anymore?) is actually damaging marriage as an institution by turning it into a tool of bigotry and intolerance, much the same way the KKK uses the crucifix. They want marriage to stand, for all time, as a shrine to ignorant majority rule and religious fundamentalism. They seek to create their "Christian" nation by excluding those that don't fit their particular Biblical literalism. It's an assault on the entire ideal of marriage, as well as the religion they pretend to follow, by caving in to the short-sighted political demands of the Religious Right. To use a popular Biblical analogy: they certainly are sheep who've lost their shepherd.

I take some small comfort in realizing that this Amendment is going nowhere. That small comfort comes in knowing that the Republicans don't control enough of a majority to push this past the Democrats. It will die in the Senate, cheered by progressives and fled from by centrist Dems, who will be aghast at the notion of taking credit for its defeat. So be it. The Democratic Party has been wishy-washy at best on the issue of gay rights, and while now would be a great time to take a principled stand, I'll likely have to be satisfied with the win.

The downside of this legislation of course is monumental, even assuming it doesn't pass. The worst that it does is legitimize the abhorrent treatment of homosexuals and makes bigotry based on sexual orientation a little more socially acceptable. That's inexcusable from the men and women (well, mainly men) of our Senate that are supposed to be leading this country. I can't imagine what defect of character drives people to support the mistreatment of their fellow Americans, but I know exactly what defect causes men like Bill Frist and George W. Bush to pander to those people: Love of power, influence and wealth. They seek to build their Christian nation on the very vices that Christ spoke most ardently against. It seem their hypocrisy knows no bounds...

To my mind, the Republicans have declared a war on marriage, not an initiative to "save" it. Allowing gays and lesbians the same right to marry as heterosexuals is an unmitigated good for society. It's an open door to equal treatment and access to benefits that help strengthen gay and lesbian families. For advocates of healthy families, as most conservative Christian organizations claim to be, this Amendment should be something they stridently oppose. Sadly, however, they see family in America as being the property of their particular Christian worldview, to be defined and historically distorted into a hazy caricature of marriage that has no basis in reality. In their minds, homosexuality is evil, plain and simple, and any attempt to treat homosexuals with dignity and respect is simply out of the question. It's a scorched-earth morality, with no care given to the human cost of such lemming-like ideological conformity. A moment's critical thought, a moment's compassion, a moment spent listening and trying to understand what life is like in America for gays would perhaps give the Religious Right that insight they need to see why a gay marriage ban is so terribly wrong.

But then, that's something Christ might do, and I suspect that if asked about the Frists, the Dobsons and the Bushes of the world, Jesus would only have one response:

"I know them not."

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