fredag, november 05, 2004

Gay Marriage Gratuitous Helpful Election Issue for Bush

On tuesday, 11 states held ballots on banning same-sex marriage (and in eight of them critics asserted the wording could led to the banning of same-sex civil unions as well). All were approved. (link*)

There's a lot of talk about wether this is the wedge issue that mobilized Bush supporters and pushed the vote his way. Already this spring when the issue came up I felt this would advantage the Bushites. It is all the sadder as it is totally unnecessary. As Juan Cole writes:

[The Democrats] also need to start defusing deadly cultural and "moral" issues that have been so effective for the Republicans. And they need to be sly about it.

For instance, a lot of Democrats would like to see gay marriage or at least civil gay unions passed into law. This is a matter of equity, since gay partners can't even get into a hospital to see an ill partner because hospitals limit visits to close family.

This issue scares the bejesus out of the red states.

But if Democrats were sly, there is a way out. The Baptist southern presidential candidate should start a campaign to get the goddamn Federal government out of the marriage business. It has to be framed that way. Marriage should be a faith-based institution and we should turn it over to the churches. If someone doesn't want to be married in a church, then the Federal government can offer them a legal civil contract (this is a better name for it than civil union). That's not a marriage and the candidate could solemnly observe that they are taking their salvation in their own hands if they go that route, but that is their business. But marriage is sacred and the churches should be in charge of it.

If you succeeded in getting the Federal government out of the marriage business, then the whole issue would collapse on the Republicans. You appeal to populist sentiments against the Feds and to the long Baptist tradition of support for the US first amendment enshrining separation of religion and state.

But the final result would be to depoliticize gay marriage, because the Federal government wouldn't be the arena for arguing about it. The Federal government could offer gays the same civil contract status as it offers straight people who want to shack up legally but without the sanction of a church. As for gays who wanted a church marriage, that would be between them and their church (remember, the Federal government is not in the business, but would go on recognizing church-performed marriages as equivalent legally to the Federal civil contract). The Unitarian Universalists could arrange it for them. The red states' populations can be hostile to the UUists all they like, it wouldn't translate into a victory at the polls for a Republican president.

The final outcome would be both more progressive (the Federal government should not in fact be solemnizing a religioius ceremony like marriage) and also advantageous to the Democrats, and it would leave gays actually better off. [...]

*for fun's sake, I thought it would be nice to link to Faux News; when I searched for 'same-sex marriage bans', I was "alerted" that I had "entered a seach term that is likely to return adult content". I didn't knew there were so many 8 years-old checking Fox... the poor little things could become gay by reading news about such horrible things... or does it tell something about the maturity of the Fox audience? I know, I know, cheap shot.
But they deserve all shots that can hit them, cheap or not: another article, with that so characteristic and insidious orwellian doublespeak, speaks of them as"pro-marriage ballot initiatives" (emphasis added)...