Defending the virtues of liberty, free markets, and civilization... plus some commentary on the passing scene.

Freedom's Fidelity

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Gay Marriage in 2004

Yesterday Glenn Reynolds asked the Machiavellian question, "Is this why Bush made his statement right after Nader entered the race?"

Whether or not that was the thinking behind this I'm not sure, but Glenn does note here that the proposal changes the status quo in no real way. Individual states would still be allowed to decide for themselves whether or not they want to recognize same sex civil unions. This is the position that Bush and Kerry (and Edwards) take - they are against "gay marriage" but would allow for "civil unions."

So what makes the timing Machiavellian? This: Kerry can come off the fence and take the politically unpopular position of unqualified support for gay marriage, but he risks alienating a not insignificant part of his constituency. Blacks and union laborers are not traditionally sympathetic to gay issues but represent an important piece of the Democrats base. If Kerry were to take the "unqualified support" position it could easily tilt some of these union would-be Kerry voters towards Bush, especially if they supported the war. On the other hand, if Kerry continues to take the "civil unions" approach a significant number of people - gays and single issue voters on this - may be so offended by Kerry's reluctance to challenge Bush on the issue that they'll throw their support to Nader, who does support the right of gays to wed. In either case it seems quite plausible that the issue will cause Kerry to lose more votes than it will Bush. The decision left to the Kerry camp would then be to figure out which position causes him the least harm. On that I think they have spoken.

Of course, there are supporters of Bush that are disgusted with his position on this, I'm one of them, but I support the Bush doctrine on tax cuts and the war on terror. Both those issues trump gay marriage, and even if they didn't, people like me (Libertarians that support the war) would find little comfort in Nader's camp. There's just nowhere else to go.

As I said, I do support gay marriage, but I think this change should come through the legislature or state by state court rulings as happened in Massachusetts. Earlier this month that process was under way as the Massachusetts ruling turned the legal tide in favor of gay marriage. That tide is now threatened by the mayor of San Francisco who's decided to change the law according to his whim. I mentioned before that pushing the envelope in this way could invite a backlash, and it seems that is now fully underway. It threatens to roll back the recent progress that the Massachusetts court started. Unlike the civil rights movement there is no reason for civil disobedience here, the mythical concept of "separate but equal" (i.e. civil unions) was voided in the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruling earlier this month, the country was put on course towards acceptance of gay marriage. Because of the circumvention of the courts and legislature in California now, we are straying from that path. That' not good for gays.


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