Remember the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment, the one that President Bush said was essential to preserving American society? There’s a new development, courtesy of President Bush. Before I address that, in order to remind everyone of the FMA that President Bush supports, reconsider the language of the proposed amendment:
Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution or the constitution of any State, nor state or federal law, shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups.
Put that into the context of President Bush’s comments during an interview with Charles Gibson. Consider:
“I view the definition of marriage different from legal arrangements that enable people to have rights. And I strongly believe that marriage ought to be defined as between, a union between a man and a woman,” Bush said. “Now, having said that, states ought to be able to have the right to pass … laws that enable people to you know, be able to have rights, like others.”
This is ridiculous. Denying marriage and “the legal incidents thereof” to same-sex couples within the Federal Marriage Amendment excludes the possibility of civil unions, yet President Bush says he supports allowing states to create civil unions. While I believe him when he says this (honestly, I don’t hate Bush or think he’s evil; I just think he’s incompetent), his support is an empty token. His statement demonstrates how he views the world in black and white. President Bush supports the FMA even though it blatantly conflicts with his support of a state’s right to recognize civil unions. The language doesn’t matter as long as it accomplishes the bigger goal. That is legislating in broad strokes rather than fine lines.
I’m not the only one who feels this way. After I formulated my thoughts on the President’s statement, I read Andrew Sullivan’s opinion. Consider:
For what it’s worth, I tend to think this is his real position, rather than a belated realization that his extremism on this matter has cost him many votes. But if it is his real position, why didn’t he say so before? And how can he support the FMA which specifically bars the “incidents of marriage” for gay couples? President speak in forked tongue. More to the point, he must surely be opposed to the state amendments in eight states that ban marriage for gays and also anything that even vaguely looks like a marriage. Those states are Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Utah. If you agree with this president, you have to vote against these state constitutional amendments. They bar civil unions as well.
To his credit, the President (through his Press Secretary) did make this statement; everyone missed it. Consider this:
Q: When the President says that the states should be free to pick legal arrangements other than marriage, does that include civil unions, specifically?
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, states can make their own decisions with regard to legal arrangements. That would include hospital visitation rights, it would include insurance benefits, it would include civil unions — we talked about this earlier. The President has made it very clear that he would not have supported it for the state of Texas.
Q: Civil union?
MR. McCLELLAN: Right.
Ultimately, President Bush’s argument still comes down to this, his fundamental (fundamentally stupid) argument about same-sex unions:
“Look. If you’re interested in preserving marriage as a union between a man and a woman, there is one way to do so, without the courts making the decision. That’s through the constitutional process and obviously I think that’s the way to go, because I am concerned that courts are making this decision. This is too important a decision to have a handful of judges making, on behalf of the American people,” Bush said.
Nine judges made a decision for 300,000,000 Americans in the 2000 Presidential election. You didn’t seem too upset then, Mr. President. How is this different?