Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Thanks, Flyer: I was just about to jump into the fray on this, but you've taken down Sullivan's bombast nicely. Here's Bush's text, by the by. Even though I have disagreements, I think it sounds reasonable and measured, notably here:
Marriage cannot be severed from its cultural, religious and natural roots without weakening the good influence of society. Government, by recognizing and protecting marriage, serves the interests of all. Today I call upon the Congress to promptly pass, and to send to the states for ratification, an amendment to our Constitution defining and protecting marriage as a union of man and woman as husband and wife. The amendment should fully protect marriage, while leaving the state legislatures free to make their own choices in defining legal arrangements other than marriage.
Sullivan's response is anything but reasonable and measured. No matter who you agree with, it's clear that Bush represents serious movement on the right toward accomodation and compromise (i.e., civil unions), while Sullivan more and more represents an all-or-nothing mentality.

There are ways to solve this, short of rhetorical bombast and intemperate namecalling. As I've said, the real issue here is that several levels of government factor marital status into policy decisions. A civil-union solution that fixes that issue satisfies me (enough). For the homosexual-rights side, though, this has become the abolitionist struggle, the suffragette movement, Stonewall, and the freedom riders, all in one neat package. To which I say, "Horseshit." Marriage is not a fundamental right. At the risk of repeating myself, I don't understand why the government is involved to any extent greater than record-keeping.

Also, Flyer, I agree with you that Bush seems an unlikely candidate for a culture-war presidency. Perhaps Razor will dispute this, but Bush is just so damn moderate, so generally unwilling to fight the big battles for the cultural right. This will change that perception, I think, despite the fact that the amendment (well, an amendment) would likely pass with bipartisan support, particularly if it includes language to cover Bush's own call to leave civil-union legislation to the discretion of the states. The make-or-break part of the text, of course, will be the distribution of federal bennies, such as comparative reductions in the tax rates of married-filing-jointly taxpayers, federal inheritance taxation, and increasingly socialized health care and medical bureaucracy at the federal level. This is where the hard right will part from reason, I predict, and stand against giving what they'll call de facto incidents of marriage to civil unions.

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