Tidbits for Political Junkies with Short Attention Spans & Hearty Appetites


Thursday, July 15, 2004


Marriage Amendment Defeated

It feels good. At the end of the day, the Republicans couldn’t even summon a bare majority – when sixty votes were needed – to even allow the measure to a vote.

It’s especially gratifying that even some Republicans (Snowe, McCain, and four others) had the courage to stand up for fairness and common sense.

But don’t expect proponents of the amendment to shut up about it. And don’t expect them to stop pretending that they are “protecting marriage.” They’re not: they’re just pandering to bigotry, and the religious extremists who put them in office, as they always have.

What disappoints me is that the Democrats have done such a poor job of countering that central meme, that preventing same-sex couples from sharing in the civil and legal “incidents” of marriage somehow “protects” anyone. It doesn’t.

What this is about is fear.

The notions advanced by the Right – that same-sex marriage will “undermine the family” or some such silliness – are all, in the end, to expressions of fear. There is not, nor will there be, any solid evidence to support these claims.

What is clear, and unequivocal, is that denying same-sex couples the rights of marriage causes real harm.

What is remarkable is how few Democrats seem to be willing to tackle the misleading framing advanced by the right – and move the question back to the one of fairness that has gone before the courts.

The judges in Massachusetts were never asked whether they were “for” or “against” same-sex marriage – or whether they disapproved or approved. Those are personal matters that are rightly beyond the reach of the law.

They were asked to rule on a matter of fairness. Is it fair, in a country that values individual autonomy, under a constitution that explicitly requires that each of its citizens be treated equally, to deny to same sex couples the civil and legal protections that married opposite-sex couples take for granted?

The courts concluded that it wasn’t.

At this point, the Right will no doubt try to paint opponents of the amendment as “opposed” to traditional marriage – which is arrant nonsense. Sadly, the Democrats are likely to continue the tap-dance and take cover under a phony states’ rights banner – when what they are really for is a proud tradition of fairness and equality under the law.

It is sad that they should let the issue become so clouded, when the merits are so clear.


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