Smaller Piece of Meat for Dobson & Co.

In last night's State of the Union address, President George Bush gave a nod to the issue of marriage for gay couples, but this time he threw out a much smaller piece of meat to James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, and company.

For the first time since 2003, he didn’t specifically mention a federal constitutional amendment to outlaw equal marriage rights for gay couples. Instead, he drew a dubious and desperate link between marriage equality and corrupt politicians:
Many Americans, especially parents, still have deep concerns about the direction of our culture, and the health of our most basic institutions. They're concerned about unethical conduct by public officials, and discouraged by activist courts that try to redefine marriage.
In 2004 and 2005, the President invoked a federal constitutional amendment. In 2005, he said, “For the good of families, children, and society, I support a constitutional amendment to protect the institution of marriage.”

And in 2004, leading up to his reelection campaign, he said much more:
A strong America must also value the institution of marriage. I believe we should respect individuals as we take a principled stand for one of the most fundamental, enduring institutions of our civilization. Congress has already taken a stand on this issue by passing the Defense of Marriage Act, signed in 1996 by President Clinton. That statute protects marriage under federal law as a union of a man and a woman, and declares that one state may not redefine marriage for other states.

Activist judges, however, have begun redefining marriage by court order, without regard for the will of the people and their elected representatives. On an issue of such great consequence, the people's voice must be heard. If judges insist on forcing their arbitrary will upon the people, the only alternative left to the people would be the constitutional process. Our nation must defend the sanctity of marriage.

The outcome of this debate is important -- and so is the way we conduct it. The same moral tradition that defines marriage also teaches that each individual has dignity and value in God's sight.
I’m not arguing that these constitutional amendments are a dead political strategy. After all, just last week, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said he wants to push the federal amendment again (which is undoubtedly part of his Presidential primary strategy for 2008). But every word of Bush’s State of the Union address is carefully chosen and scrutinized. It could be that we're getting close to the threshold where the benefits of mobilizing the Republican party base are outweighed by the dangers of alienating moderate voters.

Clearly the best way to put the nail in this coffin is to make Wisconsin the first state to defeat one of these bans.

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At 11:01 AM, Anonymous Keith said...

The irony, of course, is that these amendments are a clear invitation to "activist" judges. Rather than allowing sensible, legally solid contracts between non-married couples, the amendments' vague prohibitions open the door to all sorts of chaos.

I don't understand how Dobson et al have been able to make the opposite argument.


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