Republicans to bring same-sex marriage debate back into spotlight
with vote on Federal Marriage Amendment scheduled Tuesday
It’s June the month of gay Pride and the month when so many straight people get married.
It’s also the month when the Republicans will bring the same-sex marriage debate back into the spotlight. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., has announced he wants a Senate vote on the so-called Federal Marriage Amendment on Tuesday.
After all, the Republicans need something to wrap their re-election campaigns around this November since they don’t have any other issues to run on.
Their support of the Iraq war is no longer met with the patriotic enthusiasm of the electorate. Republican ties to oil and big business have left voters reeling at the gas pumps. There’s been no progress on substantive issues such as health care, education and immigration reform.
The only area the GOP has made some headway in is corruption and it’s really not the kind of attention they were hoping for.
Republican control of Congress and the White House has proven throughout these past six years that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The Republicans have not been able to accomplish anything of substance. Instead, the corruption and deception that have been cornerstones of the party for decades have, once again, become its public trademarks.
Everyone from George Bush and Karl Rove to Dick Cheney and Scooter Libby has been implicated in one way or another in the Valerie Plame affair. GOP House Majority Leader and enforcer Tom “The Hammer” DeLay was forced to resign in the face of ethics charges.
Then there’s Jack Abramoff. This top-shelf, high-powered, inside-the-beltway Republican lobbyist is now a convicted felon, and he’s naming GOP names in the ever-widening investigation of money, power and politics in the nation’s capital.
In retrospect, this makes Watergate look like a walk in the park.
So what do you do when you’re behind the political eight ball and can’t bring out the president to stump for you because he’s been dubbed the worst in U.S. history?
You trot out pictures of gays in leather cavorting at Pride celebrations, and you tell middle America that these people want to undermine the sanctity of marriage. You bring the same-sex marriage debate back to center stage to blind the electorate to the real issues facing the country. You grandstand on the backs of LGBT people so that your Christian Right base doesn’t desert you as they’ve been threatening to do because the amendment is not yet part of the constitution.
The only people the Republicans are deceiving in this whole mess are themselves. The public is on to their same-sex marriage games and isn’t buying them at least not for now.
A recent Human Rights Campaign poll, conducted by Peter D. Hart Research Associates and taken before gas prices skyrocketed and immigrants were protesting in the streets, found that voters considered the war (55 percent), affordable health care (55 percent), and ethics (25 percent) among the top issues of the day.
Same-sex marriage came in at 18 percent. This is one time I’m happy to be at the bottom of the barrel. Not only are our nuptials not a top priority this year, but the number of people opposed to us taking our vows has decreased yearly.
A March 2006 Pew Research Center for the People and Press poll showed only 51 percent of the 1,405 surveyed opposed gay marriage. This is down significantly from 2004, when 63 percent opposed it.
The percentage of folks who strongly opposed dropped from 42 percent in 2004 to 28 percent this year, and there’s been a sharp decrease in strong opposition from Republicans and senior citizens.
Even the first lady isn’t buying the Republican same-sex marriage smokescreen. Laura Bush told Fox News the issue should not be used as a political tool in the midterm elections. She thinks Americans want a debate on same-sex marriage the polling numbers surely bear that out and that “it requires a lot of sensitivity to just talk about the issue.”
The real president, Dick Cheney, doesn’t support the amendment either. Cheney may be a warmonger and ethically challenged, but as a parent of a lesbian daughter he gets pretty good marks. His wife, Lynne, thinks marriage is a states’ rights issue, and dyke daughter Mary has finally found her voice after years of political laryngitis and is speaking out against the amendment.
It may be a little premature to dance in the streets at your local Pride event over the demise of the GOP and its amendment. But it’s not too early to talk to your neighbor, your co-worker and your family and tell them you’re not trying to ruin their marriage, as the GOP and the Christian Right would like them to think you’re out to strengthen your relationship and celebrate the sanctity of your love.
Libby Post is a political commentator on public radio, on the Web and in print.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, June 2, 2006.