Saturday, June 03, 2006

How George Bush serves the interests of all

With today’s radio address, Bush joined the battle in defense of heterosexual marriage. If he does as well in this fight as he’s doing “defending” Iraq, by 2009 there won’t be an intact marriage left anywhere in America. Something to look forward to.

At the end of the address, he made the ritual intonation that “every American deserves to be treated with tolerance, respect, and dignity. All of us have a duty to conduct this discussion with civility and decency toward one another, and all people deserve to have their voices heard.” Which is funny, because at no point does he actually mention the existence of, you know, the gays. It’ll be interesting to see if his longer speech on the subject Monday will also manage the feat of talking about “protecting” marriage without ever acknowledging who he proposes to protect it from. Homophobia without the homos, so to speak. Indeed, he claims, even gays will benefit: “Government, by recognizing and protecting marriage, serves the interests of all.” So what are you whining about, gay people?

Really, that “interests of all” thing is just breathtakingly obnoxious and dismissive.

Actually, it’s not true that he doesn’t name the enemy who marriage needs protection from: the dread activist judges. This is part of a completely insincere, sub-Federalist-Papers argument, that “in a free society, decisions about such a fundamental social institution as marriage should be made by the people -- not by the courts.” “In a free society”? So a society in which courts order the recognition of gay marriages is unfree? I say insincere since he affirms the right of “the people” to make such decisions democratically only so long as they don’t seem likely to support gay marriage, and even then the purpose of the constitutional amendment he supports is to close off the option for states or localities that might do so. There needs to be a poly sci word, along the lines of subsidiarity, for the idea that decisions should be made at whichever level of government is most likely to come to the “right” decision.

Some people, by the way, would argue that in a “free society,” the only “people” who get to decide about marriage are the people getting married.

This address is notable for its bland, evasive language, which is why I can’t wait for a full-length speech. The more people like Bush are forced to enunciate their prejudices, the better. Have you read anti-women’s suffrage pamphlets? Once society has moved beyond the laugh-it-out-of-court stage and opponents actually have to articulate a case, the weakness of that case becomes nakedly apparent. Today, Bush said that this issue is “critical” – necessitating amending the United States Constitution, no less – but didn’t say how it was critical. He said that heterosexual marriage “promotes the welfare of children and the stability of society” but did not say what will promote the welfare of the children of gay people and what the position of homosexuals (stop it! get your minds out of the gutters!) is in relation to society. Is he implying that gays destabilize society or that they are outside of it altogether? If heterosexual marriage is to be “honored and encouraged,” does society owe anything to the decision of two people of the same sex to commit themselves to each other? Should their unions be discouraged? ignored? I’m curious what word he’d even use to describe such commitments: obviously not marriage, but not partnerships, or unions either. Hell, I want to watch his chimp-like face as he tries to conceal his discomfort when forced to speak the words “gay,” “lesbian” and “ass-fucking.” Yes, I want to hear him talk at length about gay marriage, over and over.

(For anyone who wants more, here is a two-year old post which argues that traditional marriage isn't what it used to be and that opponents of gay marriage are sexists.)

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