Legislating in broad, populist strokes

This quote from two years ago is floating around The Internets again now that New Jersey accepts same-sex marriage. It’s from President Bush:

“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.”

I blogged the President’s quote at the time. I’m not going to harp on how his stated view essentially coincides with New Jersey’s ruling. He’s a politician using this issue as an election year wedge when he really is fine with gays having equal rights? Old news. Instead, the bits I’ve placed in bold are more significant.

As strange as it may seem to the President and his base, we already have a legal arrangement that enables people to have rights. It’s called the United States Constitution. It’s an interesting document that everyone should read. But, again, it’s worth remembering that it doesn’t enable as much as it guarantees. There’s an important distinction between those two words.

Moving on, his last sentence is stunning. I can’t believe I ignored it, but I know more now, so I have a better response. The notion of majoritarianism in that sentence is clear. States have the right to pass laws to force itself to treat one group of people with the same respect it treats another group? If you want to be nice to everyone, you can, but you don’t have to do so if the majority doesn’t want to do it? Wow, so wrong. I certainly hope the President’s learned how ridiculous this is, although I doubt he has. (I’ve been reading the news.) He really should think about how history is going to judge him, because it isn’t going to be kind.

It’s nice that people realize that President Bush stated this, as it shows a bit of his character. But I fail to see how it’s complimentary to the President, since he still contradicts it with his political push, reducing my opinion of his character. It was at one point in the past, but it’s not useful to the discussion any more. I’d never think to quote it approvingly, as some are, in relation to New Jersey. If anything, it contradicts how stupid the “separate but equal” solution will be.