Sunday, June 04, 2006

Who's Behind the FMA?

Evangelical leaders insist they know how gay marriage affects their voters—they'll stay home if politicians don't push for the FMA. "It's the one issue I have seen that eclipses even the abortion issue among Southern Baptists," says Richard Land, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. Last month James Dobson, the influential founder of Focus on the Family, met privately with key Republicans, including Frist, House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Majority Leader John Boehner, to warn them about the political consequences of failing to promote issues like marriage. "If you forget us, we'll forget you," he said, according to a GOP House leadership aide who was briefed on the gatherings, but declined to be identified discussing private meetings.

Though Bush himself has publicly embraced the amendment, he never seemed to care enough to press the matter. One of his old friends told NEWSWEEK that same-sex marriage barely registers on the president's moral radar. "I think it was purely political. I don't think he gives a s--t about it. He never talks about this stuff," said the friend, who requested anonymity to discuss his private conversations with Bush. White House aides, who also declined to be identified, insist that the president does care about banning gay marriage. They say Monday's events with amendment supporters—Bush will also meet privately with a small group—have been in the works "for weeks" and aren't just a sop to conservatives. MSNBC, via Andrew Sullivan.


I've never believed that Bush is racist (as claimed Kanye West) or even truly homophobic. Bush's "old friend" seems to confirm that suspicion. I don't know if that makes it better or worse that he's willing to publically push an anti-gay Amendment to appease his base. Better, since at least he's not necessarily a true homophobe, but worse, because he's doing something even he doesn't believe is right. Has the man no scruples?

And what the hell is wrong with the Southern Baptists? They believe that millions of babies are being murdered every single year, but keeping gay couples from marrying "eclipses even the abortion issue?" Explain to me how that's not pure homophobia.

19 comments:

swurgle said...

It's all about shoring up Bush's sinking popularity in the polls and providing fodder for upcoming campaign commercials.

Does it really matter whether Bush truly supports this amendment that enshrines discrimination against an unpopular minority on principle or whether it's merely an act of political experidiency? Either way, it reveals an ugly truth about the man.

CyberKitten said...

Put not your trust in princes, bureaucrats or generals, they will plead expedience while spilling your blood from a safe distance.

Niccolò Machiavelli

Random said...

"Explain to me how that's not pure homophobia."

Somehow, I suspect that if the SBs did prioritise Right To Life, you'd manage to have a bash at them over that, too.

However, in an attempt to answer your question let me suggest this. Gay marriage is a priority now for a couple of reasons -

1) Abortion, barring circumstances that create a solid pro-repeal (of Roe vs Wade) majority on the Supreme Court is an issue that they can't do anything much about until the next presidential election at the earliest, when they can presumably campaign for a candidate who will promise to appoint pro-repeal judges. Gay marriage on the other hand is an issue that is still very much alive and in flux, and one where a strong campaign may actually make a difference. Tactics in other words, not homophobia.

2) As I've mentioned Roe vs Wade, I'll add that the gay marriage row reflects a real fear on the part of opponents of the tactics their opponents will use, as represented by RvW. To put it bluntly, I have yet to read any legal opinion that is prepared to argue convincingly that RvW is good law with a solid grounding in the constitution, and that it instead represents a particularly egregious case of activist judges finding a way of saying that the constitution says effectively what they want it to say. Gay marriage opponents are terrified that, no matter how many referenda they win on this issue (and it should be noted they have won every single one, the will of the people so far appears to be unambiguous - where gay marriage has been legalised in the USA it has been done so through the courts, not the ballot box) that the democratically expressed will of the people will simply be rendered moot by a panel of judges. They see that the only way of making sure this will not happen is by amending the federal constitution to explicitly define marriage as between a man and a woman. Amending state constitutions won't cut it - Nebraska's constitutional amendment has already been overturned by a federal court.

Frankly, liberals should recognise more that a lot of the sound and fury here is their own fault - if they showed more respect for democracy and less enthusiasm for using the courts to overturn democratic results they didn't like then there would be far less controversy. And abortion would still be almost as widely available as it is now, and nobody would be interested in the opinion of judges or politicians on the issue.

Random said...
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Jewish Atheist said...

Somehow, I suspect that if the SBs did prioritise Right To Life, you'd manage to have a bash at them over that, too.

Make no mistake -- I think they're wrong about abortion, but at least I understand their POV. From their POV, they are standing up for human rights, which I can empathize with. Gay marriage violates nobody's rights.

Abortion, barring circumstances that create a solid pro-repeal (of Roe vs Wade) majority on the Supreme Court is an issue that they can't do anything much about until the next presidential election at the earliest

They can't do much about gay marriage, either. As stated, the Amendment has 0% chance of passing, which is identical to the odds (possibly worse, depending on wording) that an anti-abortion Amendment would have.

Gay marriage on the other hand is an issue that is still very much alive and in flux, and one where a strong campaign may actually make a difference.

If the Amendment is being used solely to bring attention to the issue, this is a valid point. However, it's unclear to me how it can "make a difference" regardless, since you admit that nothing short of an Amendment will get them what they want.

To put it bluntly, I have yet to read any legal opinion that is prepared to argue convincingly that RvW is good law with a solid grounding in the constitution, and that it instead represents a particularly egregious case of activist judges finding a way of saying that the constitution says effectively what they want it to say.

That may be, but it's not liberals who are behind it. So unless by "tactics their opponents will use," you're referring to tactics the (majority-Republican-nominated) Supreme Court will use, your point can't stand.

Frankly, liberals should recognise more that a lot of the sound and fury here is their own fault - if they showed more respect for democracy and less enthusiasm for using the courts to overturn democratic results they didn't like then there would be far less controversy.

As you well know, we are not set up as a pure Democracy for exactly the reason that comes up with gay marriage -- that of the tyranny of the majority. We have a Constitution in order (among other things) to protect the rights of people AGAINST the very tyranny of the majority that the anti-gay people represent. It was wrong when a majority of Americans opposed miscegenation and it's wrong when a majority opposes gay marriage or gay civil unions. In the case of human rights, the "will of the people" isn't as important as the rights the Constitution gives. That's why the Christians can't just vote that it's illegal to practice Islam. And those who interpret the Constitution's rights are the Supreme Court Justices.

And, one more time, neither Roe v. Wade nor the gay marriage rulings are the liberals' "fault" -- unless you're talking about 3 or 4 liberals on the Court.

Laura said...

I saw a photo on the CNN homepage this morning with someone holding a sign that said "Jesus said One man + One Woman = Marriage" Matthew 19:4-6.

Well, what about those of us who, pardon my french, don't give a crap what Jesus said?

Let's stop pulling punches here. If this country is founded on the principles of what Jesus said, then why let any non-Christian get married at all? Let's ban marriage for everyone except straight Christians.

CyberKitten said...

Well said Laura. 100% with you on that one.

Random said...

"In the case of human rights, the "will of the people" isn't as important as the rights the Constitution gives. That's why the Christians can't just vote that it's illegal to practice Islam. And those who interpret the Constitution's rights are the Supreme Court Justices."

There is an unwritten pact at the heart of the constitution though - that the Supreme Court will only interpret the constitution as it is written, and will not use it as an excuse to pass the prejudices of (the majority of) it's members into law. This is the pact that many conservatives feel was violated when Roe vs Wade was ruled (just as liberals of an earlier generation thought the pact was violated when Dred Scott was ruled - or are you prepared to argue that was good law that necessitated respect too?), and they are clearly very much afraid of a repeat performance when/if gay marriage ever comes up before it, hence the push for an amendment. As I said before, there would be none of this heat if liberals were not prepared to subvert the constitution in order to get their prejudices into law.

Frankly, this is why I think the debate in European countries on both abortion and gay marriage has been both more civilised and more successful (for the liberals) than it has been in the US - because legalisation of both was achieved through a democratic process that both sides could regard as legitimate, and in which the losers could accept that they had fairly lost. There were no fiats from on high.

"And, one more time, neither Roe v. Wade nor the gay marriage rulings are the liberals' "fault" -- unless you're talking about 3 or 4 liberals on the Court."

Nonsense. the Supreme Court only rules on cases that are brought before it. It was liberal activists that pushed Roe to the Supreme Court and it will be liberal activists who push gay marriage there (as they already have done with the Massachussetts Supreme Court) as soon as they think they have a majority of liberal judges on the court.

And just to make it clear what I've said before - I believe that if you have to have civil marriage (which is a separate debate) it should be open to all citizens regardless of orientation. I do feel I am allowed to be contemptuous of the tactics employed by some of the people pushing it though - the end does not always justify the means.

Random said...

CK,

do you have source for that quote from Machiavelli? I've read a lot of his stuff, and that's not familiar to me. It doesn't really sound like his style either.

Laura,

"Well, what about those of us who, pardon my french, don't give a crap what Jesus said?"

Then with all due respect you will have scant grounds for complaint if those of us who do return the favour.

Laura said...

Pardon me Random - Return what favor? I don't see anyone trying to pass a law to PREVENT you from living your life with the partner of your choice. No skin off your back, you have the right to get married if you want. It's hardly the same thing.

I'm not pushing my belief that there's nothing wrong with homosexuality on you. You're free to believe it's wrong if you wish.

If your particular interpretation of Christianity tells you gay marriage is wrong. Fine. No one is telling you you don't have the right to believe that. What we're saying is that you do not have the right to prevent another person from excersising his or her human rights because you think it's wrong.

Give me one solid anti-gay marriage argument that doesn't involve God or Judeo-Christian morals. This is, last time I checked, still a secular country.

Laura said...

and another thing:

I understand the argument that legislation has been circumvented through the courts. I don't agree with it, but I understand where you're coming from.

What this ammendment would do is prevent state legislatures and residents from pushing legislation that would legalize gay marriage in any state. So you're taking away the very right (for the legislature to codify marriage) that you're complaining the courts took away.

CyberKitten said...

random asked: do you have source for that quote from Machiavelli? I've read a lot of his stuff, and that's not familiar to me. It doesn't really sound like his style either.

I think it's from 'The Prince' - I tried to find the exact source via Google but couldn't. I think he was either using Psalm 118(?) as an example or making a comment on it. Sorry I couldn't be more specific.

UberPropagandist said...

I'm all for gays having the right to raise kids and being recognized as committed lovers. But don't you think that we need to acknowledge that humans aren't adapted yet to a homosexual parenting? We need to adapt to it but we need to start dealing with these changes. Other social changes that we haven't adapted healthily yet in my opinion is the new phenomenon of cyber romance. We've adapted biologically to make choices based on visual and even aromatic cues. Those are completely absent in cyber relationships. Leading to confusing times. Sorry for the ramble.

Laura said...

uber: Not sure what you mean. Do you mean the social environment that exists making it difficult for 'alternative' families? If so, I agree with you on that one.

UberPropagandist said...
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swurgle said...

Uber: People have the capacity to adjust to changing social norms. As little as 40 years ago many Americans believed that marriage between people of different races was not "natural" and ought to be outlawed.

I agree with Laura and Cyberkitten. What's the harm in permitting people of the same gender who love each other to get married? As Thomas Jefferson said about religious differences: "It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg."

Random said...

"If your particular interpretation of Christianity tells you gay marriage is wrong. Fine. No one is telling you you don't have the right to believe that. What we're saying is that you do not have the right to prevent another person from excersising his or her human rights because you think it's wrong."

Laura, what part of

"I believe that if you have to have civil marriage (which is a separate debate) it should be open to all citizens regardless of orientation."

did you not understand?

Frankly, I'd be grateful if you could pay more attention to what I actually say instead of what you think I must have said - but to repeat (yet) again, if the state is going to provide something called civil marriage it has no business discriminating between citizens as to who can take it up. I do not see why this prevents me from expressing contempt for some of the attitudes of the people pushing the agenda however.

CK, no it's not "The Prince" - I know that one very well and I'm pretty sure it's not in there. It's an odd sentiment to find in a book that is essentially an instruction manual for the sort of people being warned against in the quote anyway.

Laura said...

Random: My bad. I was actually responding to the "Then with all due respect you will have scant grounds for complaint if those of us who do return the favour" and arguing why it doesn't really apply in this case.

CyberKitten said...

random said: CK, no it's not "The Prince" - I know that one very well and I'm pretty sure it's not in there. It's an odd sentiment to find in a book that is essentially an instruction manual for the sort of people being warned against in the quote anyway.

'The Prince' was only an uneducated guess. I had a vague memory of the quote so Googled it. I saw it attributed to Machiavelli in several places so assumed it was probably true. But with the Net... who knows...?