The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Gay marriage ban bad idea for GOP

Marriage equality arrived in Massachusetts last month as gaycouples were legally wed shortly after midnight on May 17. So farthe sky has not fallen, divorce rates have not skyrocketed and noone else’s marriage has been cheapened or dissolved becauseAdam can now marry Steve. But the battle for marital equality isnot yet over.

Over the next few months, religious conservatives and PresidentBush will continue to push their proposed Constitutional amendmentto forever bar homosexuals from access to society’s mostbasic institution.

They will fail in this effort, and badly. That is not really inquestion. The only reason Bush and his allies are pushing thisissue now is that they think that there’s some politicalbenefit to be had from it.

They are wrong. So wrong that even Republicans should considerthe potential downsides before backing this proposal.

No Political Benefit

In January, a New York Times poll showed only a bare majority ofrespondents support the proposed amendment. In the wake of theimages of happy gay couples marrying in Massachusetts, support forgay marriage and civil unions hit a record high. The numbersfluctuate, but it is clear that opposition to gay equality may bewide, but it is not deep.

Perhaps the GOP hoped that the amendment would splinter theDemocrats going into the presidential year. No luck there. Therecent Democratic primaries showcased a slate of potentialpresidents, all of whom supported at least civil unions forhomosexual couples.

The amendment has changed the political calculus all right, butnot in a way that favors Republicans. Instead, the proposal hascreated a “moderate” position of civil unions wherepreviously there was none. And in recent polls, the appeal of thatmiddle ground is growing.

Thus, it’s probable the slim majority that supports theamendment will become a minority once voters realize that theproposed text would also eliminate gay civil unions. As Americanscome to accept civil unions as the medium between nothing andmarriage, the case for the proposed amendment falters evermore.

Think of the Children

Even more ominous for Republicans who actually think furtherahead than the next election are the statistics regarding gaymarriage and voters younger than 30. To be succinct, they favor it.Young American adults support allowing gays to marry by 56-40,according to last December’s New York Times poll.

Which is, of course, why the religious right is pushing thisissue now — as older, more anti-gay voters are displaced byyounger voters, gay marriage will become inevitable. Bush and hissupporters are attempting to Constitutionally forestall thiseventuality, regardless of the consequences for the GOP’slong-term future.

This is a staggering dereliction of duty by those guiding theGOP. Republicans deserve better forethought from their leaders— or, if not forethought, how about intellectualconsistency?

Bad Ideology

The entire notion behind the FMA violates many of thelong-standing tenets of Republicanism including the independence ofstates and a predilection towards limited government. It is justanother reason why many party faithful, long dubious of theincreasingly intolerant tilt of the GOP, and are beginning to askthe right questions – such as “whatever happened to theRepublican notion of individual freedom andresponsibility?”

Supporters of the amendment try to appeal to notions offederalism by raising the specter of gay marriage being thrust onevery state simply by the actions of one (ignoring the fact thatthe courts have never seen fit to federalize marriage before,despite the contradictions that exist in present law).

If that’s their true concern, a more narrowly wordedamendment could have sufficed. But instead the religious fanaticscurrently leading the GOP have decided to engage in legislative gaybashing.

Coming just a few years after the nigh-pornographic expositionthe GOP provided for its impeachment of Bill Clinton and thedangerous obsession Republican leaders have with abstinence-onlysex education, and a strange picture emerges of a party that ismortally afraid that someone, somewhere, might be having anorgasm.

Is this “big tent” Republicanism for the future?

The FMA won’t pass, and when it fails, it will cost theGOP measurable amounts of political capital. It could even totallyreverse the already-ebbing backlash against gay rights which sprungup in the wake of last summer’s landmark and sweeping SupremeCourt decision on sodomy; moderates don’t like to see peoplebullied.

The images coming out of Massachusetts of happy gay couples atjoyful weddings, surrounded by parents, friends and, yes, evenchildren, put the lie to the notion that American families onlycome in a heterosexual variety. These images are moving, andpowerful, and each another straw on the back of the FederalMarriage Amendment. If the GOP isn’t careful, these weddingsmay also serve as wakes for the political dominance of theRepublican Party.

If moderate and libertarian Republicans care about their party,they must take the reins back from the religious fanatics currentlydragging the GOP even further to the social right. Opposing theFederal Marriage Amendment as an abrogation of the GOP’straditional posture on individual liberty and states rights wouldbe a good way to start.

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