Thursday, July 15, 2004
by Wayne Besen
Right wing conservatives who say that same-sex marriage will destroy the family appear to be right, with the first unlikely casualty being the Cheney family.
On CNN's Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer, Lynne Cheney disagreed with her VP husband on the need for a federal Constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.
"First of all, to be clear that people should be free to enter into their relationships that they choose," Lynne Cheney told Blitzer. "And, secondly, to recognize what's historically been the situation, that when it comes to conferring legal status on relationships, that is a matter left to the states."
Surely this has got to cause dinner table dissention in the Cheney household. The only people left in America who seem to like Dick are those on the far right of the political spectrum. Yet, Lynne nobly chose parenting over the VP's popularity. While Lynne elected to support her lesbian daughter Mary, Dick sold her down the river to get reelected. While Lynn displayed family values, Dick values the votes of the right wing over Constitutional rights for his daughter.
Beyond eviscerating the GOP family, the same-sex marriage issue also has the capacity to destroy the meaning of friendship. On NBC's Meet the Press, William F. Buckley, the Godfather of Conservatism, urged President Bush to exploit the same-sex marriage issue to boost his sagging popularity. Buckley conveniently forgets that his ascent to the top of conservatism was made possible in part by his friend and political partner, the late Marvin Liebman.
Liebman, also a friend of mine, was gay and the author of "Coming Out Conservative". Buckley knows well of the torment, turmoil and hardship faced by his close buddy who waited until old age to come out. Yet, he still brazenly seeks to employ anti-gay prejudice so Bush can win reelection. With friends like these...
The debate over same-sex marriage also threatens to destroy Republican political families on Capitol Hill. Gay activists Mike Rogers and John Aravosis are now conducting campaigns to "out" high-level gay Republican Hill staffers who work for Members who support the Federal Marriage Amendment banning same-sex marriage.
The first turncoat to get outed is Jonathan Tolman, a key aide on a committee chaired by rabidly right wing Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla. Tolman now complains that his sexual orientation should be kept confidential. But you can't work for Inhofe by day and appear in a racy feature called "Cover Boy Confidential" for MW, a gay Washington, DC magazine, at dusk and whimper that your privacy has been invaded.
In the Washington Blade Tolman comically explained, "it isn't my style to broadcast my sexual orientation with klieg lights." No, apparently just camera flashbulbs during his homosexual modeling shoot for MW. In the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call, Tolman defended his indefensible position by saying, "The Senator and I may disagree on this issue, but I didn't come to the Hill thinking I was going to find my political soul mate in a Member." To have a soul mate, one must first have a soul.
Whether the family is biological, acquired through friendship or political it is clear that gay people are deeply woven into the fabric of the Republican family. Yet, it never ceases to amaze me how GOP leaders are willing to backstab their friends and family members to court the Pat Robertson "bigot vote".
Let's be honest, George W. Bush is in really bad political shape. During the Clinton years Americans used to enjoy turning on CNN or picking up the morning newspaper because it made them feel good about themselves and hopeful about the future.
Since Bush took over, turning on the news has been a painful and unbearably unpleasant experience. All we hear about is exploding deficits and exploding bombs. Weapons of mass destruction can't be found, and neither can jobs. Gas prices are soaring and consumer confidence is souring. People are starting to get wary, even depressed, over the reign of "Bad News Bush".
Bush's attempt to promote the Federal Marriage Amendment is nothing more than a cynical attempt to change the subject and distract Americans from his administration's failures. In his Saturday radio address Bad News Bush again turned in desperation to gay issues by saying, "Changing the definition of traditional marriage will undermine the family structure."
And exactly how will this happen? Which Republicans are planning to get divorced if I get married?
Bush and his sophisticated Republican cronies have enough gay friends, colleagues and family members to know their red meat rhetoric is pure nonsense. Sadly, gay people are considered expendable and collateral damage in Bush's unprincipled war for reelection.
The real fear of the president is not that same-sex marriage will undermine the family structure, but that if he doesn't exploit anti-gay prejudice the public will focus on his dismal record and this will change the political structure and put John Kerry in the White House.
In the meantime, the only families this obscene debate seems to be destroying are those of Republicans who are grappling with the fact that gay baiting is as much an act of self-annihilating cannibalism as it is an attack on other people.