Thursday, January 15, 2004

what is it

The president ran as a compassionate conservative, and I know that political terms like this are a bit of phony language. Still, when I heard the story this morning about his big program to use the federal government to encourage marriage for lower-income straight people, and I remember that recently he hinted at supporting the move to amend the U.S. Constitution so that, by-george, gay families will be denied legal protections and responsibilities, and I think about what message these actions send to gay and lesbian people as they seek to live as responsible adults within this society, I muttered to myself, how dare he.

These are chess moves from Karl Rove, meant for gain in the upcoming election, not the earmarks of anybody who calls himself compassionate or conservative. It's cynical conservatism. But the outcome of the amendment, if successful, would codify within law the status of gay and lesbian people as second class citizens. And it would continue a tradition of our government ignoring the fact that gay and lesbian families exist within American society.

I am a Democrat, but I also remember that it was about a little over a year before the 1996 elections that many Congressional Democrats voted for (along with almost if not all the Congressional Republicans, and under their endorsement) the so-called Defense of Marriage Act. In the middle of the night, away from cameras, Bill Clinton signed it. That was also cynical, and as time goes on, it will look worse than it did then.

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