President Bush dedicated his weekly radio address today to declaring his support for the upcoming Senate vote on a proposed constitutional amendment that would nationally and permanently define civil marriage as between one man and one woman, and he argued that same-sex marriage is an issue for which we should be willing to dismantle the American system of democracy that has served us and functioned as a model for the rest of the world for more than 200 years.
You see, the President feels that the judicial branch of the government, which the Founders intended to be co-equal in power along with the executive and legislative branches, should be hamstrung by popular sentiment, prevented from upholding their obligation to the principles presently enshrined in the Constitution by the majority will. In short, the President seeks to radically redefine essential principles of western democracy in order to legislate hatred.
"Marriage is the most enduring and important human institution, honored and encouraged in all cultures and by every religious faith," said the President, though in his repeated call for preserving his "definition" of marriage he conveniently ignores that many cultures and faiths have marriage traditions quite different than the ones he is promoting, and he also ignores that there are faith communities within our own nation that bless and sanctify same-sex unions.
"The commitment of a husband and wife to love and serve one another promotes the welfare of children and the stability of society." Of course it does; but he, and every other conservative who's ever spoken on the subject, fails to address just how same-sex marriage would weaken those ideals. And how does the government "promote" marriage by denying it?
"In our free society, people have the right to choose how they live their lives," said the President, but clearly he does not believe that. "Every American deserves to be treated with tolerance, respect and dignity," he added. Such empty, empty words coming in the midst of a speech focused on denying fundamental rights to millions of American citizens. As a gay American, I feel neither tolerated nor respected by this President and his supporters. My dignity is not preserved by his efforts to enact federal legislation that says I am not worthy of the institution of marriage, that I am a threat from which other Americans need protection.
The President speaks repeatedly of overwhelming majority opposition to same-sex marriage in America, and yet the amendment he endorses is expected to fall far short of the 60 votes needed to pass, and may not even muster a simple majority. In two states where the high courts are pondering legalizing same-sex marriage, New York and New Jersey, the majority supports it.
A glance at the change in public attitudes toward marriage equality and homosexuality in general shows an accelerating trend toward acceptance. The President, whose own support is no longer anywhere near a majority, should take into consideration that it is not reasonable to expect that public opposition to same-sex marriage will endure.
But he knows that. All the conservatives know that. That's why they're rushing to do this now, while they still have a slim chance of success, and that's why they prefer to rely on the long, slow change in public opinion, rather than the swift justice of the courts.
In closing, the President made this curious remark: "Democracy, not court orders, should decide the future of marriage in America." I hang my head in nauseous shame that the President of the United States of America, who has gone all over the world promoting democracy and even launched a war in its name, thinks that courts are not only not necessary for democracy, they are antithetical.