Kelly Sans Culotte

US Politics

"Overt Discrimination and Maudlin Sentimentality"
The press examines Bush's demand for an amendment to ban gay marriage.

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FEB. 26, 2004. Excerpts from some of the first reactions to Bush's speech yesterday demanding a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. Responses focus on the broad legal implications, Bush's motivation in an election year, and the role of states in determining the future.

Anti-gay proposals a shallow ploy
Atlanta Journal-Constitution Editorial
President Bush and some members of the Georgia Legislature are forging ahead heedlessly in their support for constitutional amendments that would ban gay marriage federally and in our state under the pretext of preserving the sanctity of the institution.

Listening to their rhetoric, one might assume the very fate of the republic was hanging perilously in the balance. But the debate over this issue, the latest battleground in the culture wars that have so divided the nation, is more about politics than principle.

In announcing his position this week, the president said: "Ages of experience have taught humanity that the commitment of a husband and wife to love and serve one another promotes the welfare of children and the stability of society."

That's true. However, it's difficult to imagine how a gay couple exchanging wedding vows poses a threat to children or American society at large. It's also hard — no, impossible — to explain rationally how extending rights to others necessarily impinges on those who already enjoy those benefits.

"The nuclear bomb of anti-gay attacks..."
ACLU release
The American Civil Liberties Union warns that the amendment supported by the White House is much broader than advertised and would not only ban civil unions but could completely deny a broad range of government benefits to unmarried couples, be they gay or straight.

Same-Sex Marriage and the Entitlement Problem column
There are only two possible legal solutions to the problem of "entitlements." Either everyone gets them or no one gets them. Anything else is odious discrimination...

Conservatives will lick their wounds for a while, but will then mobilize to pass the 28th Amendment which will attempt to define marriage between a single individual of suitable age, mental capacity, and possessing an XX chromosome to another single individual of suitable age and mental capacity, but possessing an XY chromosome. Enormous political pressure will be brought to bear on 15 states and the proposed 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution will fall just short. The United States will join the Netherlands and Belgium in their legal recognition of same-sex marriages.

Same-sex marriages are inevitable and conservatives would be wise to anticipate them.

Written prior to Bush statement, but obviously relevant.

Debasing the Constitution
Washington Post editorial
"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 a man and woman as husband and wife." With these words, President Bush abandoned the Constitution to election-year politics.

Until yesterday, he had said he believed in defending traditional marriage and would support a constitutional amendment if necessary — but only if there were no other way to prevent judges from forcing gay marriage on an unwilling American public. Now, Mr. Bush has abandoned nuance.

A federal definition of marriage, which has been governed primarily by state law since the beginning, would prevent any state, whatever the views of its residents, from recognizing the equality and legitimacy of same-sex marriages...

But whatever one thinks of the Massachusetts courts or the San Francisco mayor, there is no evidence that state political systems are incapable of responding. Why can't California be trusted to sort out the situation in San Francisco, and Massachusetts legislators and voters to address whatever deficiencies they find in their own court's rulings?

Putting Bias in the Constitution
New York Times editorial (registr. req'd)
With his re-election campaign barely started and his conservative base already demanding tribute, President Bush proposes to radically rewrite the Constitution. The amendment he announced support for yesterday could not only keep gay couples from marrying, as he maintains, but could also threaten the basic legal protections gay Americans have won in recent years.

To repeal a right
San Francisco Chronicle editorial
President Bush made it official Tuesday: He wants to add an element of discrimination to the U.S. Constitution. Bush announced his support for a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage because "a few judges and local authorities" are undermining a "fundamental institution of civilization."

Nonsense. The real reason behind this renewed pitch for the amendment is the prospect that laws that discriminate against same-sex marriage are not sustainable under the equal protection provisions of the 14th Amendment. At some point, perhaps soon, the issue will reach the U.S. Supreme Court — and the reasoning it used to strike down a Texas sodomy law last year may similarly invalidate laws that deny gays and lesbians the full rights and responsibilities of marriage. This nation has just begun to confront the many enduring inequities faced by same-sex couples.

The President's Marriage Vow
Chicago Tribune editorial
Three months ago the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court stripped that state's legislature of any power to decide whether the law of the land should accept and embrace marriage by same-sex couples. The court ruled that a prohibition on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.

Two weeks ago, officials in San Francisco began to issue marriage licenses to gay couples in open defiance of state law, which defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

Now we have seen the inevitable backlash. President Bush announced Tuesday that he will support a constitutional amendment to prohibit same-sex marriage.

The shame in all this is that the U.S. has been on a course toward greater acceptance and legal recognition of gays and lesbians. That process has been all but tossed aside as the country erupts in a cultural war that most Americans don't particularly want and certainly don't need.

Gay marriage isn't a constitutional issue
The Miami Herald editorial
With so many urgent challenges confronting the country, why would President Bush push a ban on gay marriage to the top of the national agenda? And why now?

The president's announcement yesterday bears the unmistakable imprimatur of a political maneuver. It ill-serves the country. Yet Mr. Bush puts the weight of the presidency behind a measure that would make denial of basic civil rights to some individuals a Constitutional mandate.

The effort must be defeated because our Constitution stands for more than government-sanctioned meanness. It must be defeated because bias demeans Americans and is unworthy of a place in our Constitution.

By intentional design, amending the U.S. Constitution is a painstaking, difficult task. Successful amendments require many years of planning, a two-thirds vote by both the U.S. House and Senate as well as ratification by three-fourths of the states. The process is tough because the Constitution represents our guiding principles of governance. We cannot allow it to become a vehicle for discrimination.

Taking Rights Away from Gays Has No Place in Constitution
San Jose Mercury News editorial
Thousands of amendments to the U.S. Constitution have been formally introduced since it was ratified in 1787. Yet just 27 cleared Congress and were ratified by the states.

The proposal for an amendment to ban same-sex couples from getting married, supported Tuesday by President Bush, should join the long list of past failures in the trash can of history.

An amendment that takes rights away from Americans has no place in the Constitution. The president's aggressive approach is an overreaction to a polarizing issue in the presidential campaign. The validity of gay and lesbian marriages should be settled in the courts and by individual states.

Gay Marriage
Detroit Free Press editorial
President George W. Bush's decision to back a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage isn't surprising, but it is especially disappointing from a man who ran for president as a "uniter, not a divider."

Bush, like most advocates for the marriage amendment, acts as if the judges and other officials who have upheld a right to gay unions were suddenly dropped from another planet to impose an arbitrary rule foreign to American values.

But there is nothing arbitrary about enforcing the Constitution, and its fundamental concept that the law applies equally to everybody. That's as central an American value as there is. As much as some people might not like to admit it, homosexuals are part of the American fabric; the Constitution must not be turned against them.

Even polls that show Americans are wary of gay marriage reveal they are highly concerned about tampering with this sacred document. Instead, they think the battle should be left to the states.

'Compassionate?' Say that's a good one
Houston Chronicle column
It will be interesting to see when President Bush voluntarily next mentions his support for a constitutional amendment outlawing gay marriage, the hunk of blood-red meat he threw to his mewling right-wing base on Tuesday. It will be a good gauge of how desperate he senses his chances of re-election have become.

Bush may actually believe the nasty brew of overt discrimination and maudlin sentimentality that a speechwriter concocted for the president's midmorning address in the Roosevelt Room. But in political terms, it's all about revving up the conservatives who have become alarmed by a number of Bush projects, including burgeoning federal spending and his proposal for quasi-permissive immigration reform.

If this remains as close a national presidential campaign as polling now suggests, Karl Rove can't afford to have conservative activists picketing a family-planning clinic instead of marching lock-step to the polls on Nov. 2.

If Bush returns to the amendment with any frequency, or actually does much to attempt to achieve congressional approval, it will mean that the base has yet to firm up sufficiently for Rove's exacting taste.

San Francisco Mayor Calls Bush "Shameful"
San Francisco Chronicle article
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom came out roaring against what he termed President Bush's shameful call Tuesday for a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage and challenged fellow Democrats to stand firm against the proposal.

The president has "tried to divide this country in order to advance his political career by messing with the Constitution,'' Newsom said at a City Hall press conference after Bush's comments from the White House.

"It's fundamentally wrong on principle, and we've got to have the courage to stand up and say enough, stop. And that's what we're doing here in San Francisco, and that's what I hope Democrats across this country will do as well," he said.

Newsom's decision two weeks ago authorizing city officials to issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples reignited the national debate over the volatile issue that raises social, political, legal and religious questions.

The mayor said he was acting to uphold the equal protection rights guaranteed by the California Constitution. He said the presidential push for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution must be rebuffed.

From the Web tries to prod Mary Cheney into action

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