Letters

Readers weigh in on same-sex marriage and Bush's decision to back a constitutional amendment forbidding it.


Salon Staff
February 29, 2004 4:59AM (UTC)

[Read "Bush's War Over Gay Marriage," by Tim Grieve.]

Incredible! The Democratic Party really is a bunch a gutless, spineless cowards when it comes to taking a stand on any issue. How hard is it for just one Democrat of national prominence (a presidential candidate, preferably) to say: "I support every American's right to be treated equally and fairly under the law. I support every American's right to the pursuit of happiness that is one of the great traditions of this country. Therefore, I support gay marriage. But whether you agree with me on this specific issue or not, every American should be troubled that the current president of the United States is willing to tamper with the most sacred document of our Union, the Constitution, in an effort to discriminate against a minority of Americans. At the very least, let each state decide in its own way how to protect the right of its citizens to be happy in life and love, and let us not meddle with the Constitution for political ends."

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Fortunately for us, all the fear of the Christian right expressed in this article, the fear that leads Democrats to cower in submission, is proving to be a bit premature, as even Republicans in the House and Senate have already voiced their skepticism over using a constitutional amendment to decide this issue, and have pretty much stated that there is no way a two-thirds majority of each chamber will vote for this. But we as liberals and Democrats should ask ourselves, are we really afraid of a fringe group of conservatives that makes statements such as "When you create counterfeit marriages and put them into the law, you're undermining society's most important safeguard against tyranny"? I think that an overwhelming majority of moderate Americans are likely to view statements such as that as more radical than statements affirming support of gay marriage.

I am just extremely disappointed that no prominent Democrats will take a gutsy stand on this issue now that it has moved to the forefront, and that we are left to cower in the face of the radicals in the Christian right.

-- Ray D'Antuono

Most of the arguments I've seen opposing gay marriage fail to note the distinction that already exists between civil marriages and those that take place within a church.

A friend (who is a religious conservative) became engaged to a divorced man. They are Catholic and so could not marry in the church until his annulment came through. However, they wanted the economic benefits of living together and wanted her to be covered by his health insurance. So they married in a civil service. The state and his employer didn't care how they were married and awarded them all the financial and legal benefits of a married couple, even though their church didn't recognize the union.

Civil marriages have long been the option for heterosexual couples who either don't belong to a church or whose church for one reason or another doesn't approve of their union. They have always entitled the participants to the same rights and protections as people married in a religious context. Civil marriages should therefore be an option for gay couples as well.

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Each church is still free to sanction and sanctify only those marriages that it agrees with. But promoting religion is not the business of either our federal or state governments, and denying equal civil rights to gay people based on religious objections is wrong.

-- Tama Serfoss

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I am thrilled to pieces that the true spirit of freedom still stirs within the Republican Party. May it defeat the Bush political machine and the religious extremists riding with him. As an African-American woman who votes as an Independent and not as a knee-jerk Democrat or a knee-jerk Republican, I am disgusted with both parties and the ever-growing political mess resulting from the hypocrisy and corruption. Neither Kerry nor Bush excites me as a voter, and I am not thrilled at the prospect of having the religious right dictate to me or my fellow citizens who I can or cannot marry, what I can or cannot read, watch, and listen to, or how I should conduct my sexual and/or reproductive life. I am sick of hearing about politicians' religious convictions -- let's hear about the economy and keeping the terrorists from our borders.

-- Cherie Turpin

As a heterosexual couch potato, I wonder when all of them thar' wacky gays on TV are going to become fed up with the double standard in our country.

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The stars of "Will & Grace," "The L Word," and most definitely "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy," et al., should wake up America by walking off their respective shows and declaring that they will not be the modern-day Amos and Andy. These celebrities have a direct line into the hearts and minds of millions of viewers who are happy to see them play gay for pay, while at the same time considering "real" homosexuals to be second-class citizens.

Maybe it is the metrosexual in me that's gotten me worked up, or the fact that (unlike the moral majority) I've actually met real live gay folk, but this is crazy! Move on up to the front of the bus and demand that this stupid debate over gay marriage end. God save the queens!

-- Matt Bergin

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If you replace gay marriage with older civil rights issues such as women's right to vote, citizenship for blacks, or interracial marriage, it becomes clearer how hateful and ridiculously alarmist this whole issue sounds. Allowing gays to marry will do nothing more to damage the institution of marriage than the above issues.

For groups like Focus on the Family or the Family Research Council to attempt to codify a prejudice is completely un-Christian and would run contrary to the unalienable rights clarified in our Constitution. If these groups are so interested in protecting the institution of marriage under the mantle of Christian values, they should focus on the true destroyers of a healthy marriage, such as poverty. They have forgotten the true message of Christianity: Love your freakin' neighbor.

-- Bryan Biermann

[Read this week's edition of "Right Hook," by Mark Follman.]

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The notion that Andrew Sullivan can be shocked and outraged at Bush's decision to pursue a "marriage amendment" may cause me to reassess Andrew Sullivan himself. Having observed Bush these last three-plus years, it could only be by massive self-deception that he could have ever thought otherwise. Bush's much vaunted (and self-vaunted) adherence to principle and moral clarity have never extended beyond issues for which he was assured either cheap popular support among the electorate (war on terror, war in Iraq), cheap financial support from his financial backers (tax cuts, ANWAR drilling, EPA gutting), or hectoring support from the evangelical right, as he is getting with this issue.

I can't recall a single issue on which Bush has taken a "principled" stand that did not involve a political calculation. The closest might be his immigration policy, guaranteed as it was to inflame social conservatives; but that is, in the end, really just a sop to cheap-labor-loving big business. There is no financial or political payoff to supporting gay marriage, or even opposing a marriage amendment. Bush may talk a good game, but time and again it all seems to come down to two facts: You can't eat principles and principles don't vote.

-- Howard West


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