"His voice betrayed a craving for terrible things." -- Don DeLillo

Send all adoration/vitriol to marc@shadowbloom.com

February 27, 2004

The New Culture War
Not content with starting an unnecessary, violent war to serve as a distraction while we get screwed on the economy and the environment, "President" Bush has fired the first volley in a new Culture War just in time for his reelection campaign. By supporting a Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, Bush is seeking to add onto his impressive resume the distinction of being the only President to use to Constitution to take away rights from a group of people. Imagine if, during the Civil Rights Movement, a Republican block of politicians pushed forward an amendment to ban blacks from gaining the right to vote. It serves a nice dual purpose for Bush. First, it galvanizes his religious right base--a group of people who have been clamoring for an amendment like this for a long time. Bush can shore up this conservative support, further helping to fill his voluminous reelection coffers and holding on to his intimidating stranglehold in the South. At the same time, though, it puts Democrats in an increasingly uncomfortable position. Since public polls have shown that the majority of the country is not ready for gay marriage yet, Democrats do not want to come out in support of gay marriage, which could alienate their crucial swing voters in the ideological middle. However, they can't support Bush's amendment, which could alienate their liberal base by kowtowing to Bush's divisive social agenda. Instead, Democrats will be forced to tread water on the issue, proclaiming that it should be up to states to decide. There's no doubting, however, that Republicans will seize on this and push for Democrats to take a stand, branding them as gay-friendly if they oppose the amendment or, worse for liberals, Bush-friendly if they support it. The amendment push will also serve to hurt John Kerry in his White House run. Just by being from Massachusetts, he is indelibly tied to the court decision there declaring that gays have the right to marriage. Despite the fact that Kerry has come out against that decision and against gay marriage (though of course also against the amendment), the Republicans will make him guilty by association. Unable to compete on even ground on economic or security issues with Kerry, Bush is turning the nation's attention to a hotbed social issue, hoping that enough people will be so against gay marriage that they'll forget the myriad ways Bush has been destroying the country.

A fascinating twist on this whole strategy, though, is that Bush also has the chance to alienate his cherished far-right Christian conservatives here unwittingly. By trying to ban gay marriage, he may find it necessary to support some type of civil union for gay people in order to gain enough votes for the amendment. The far-right zealots, however, would be furious over this and have demanded that Bush not give even the slightest concession to gays. If he supports civil unions in some form, he could upset the very people he is trying to court with the amendment. If he gives nothing back to gays, Democrats will jump on this and use it to prove how much of a lie his "compassionate conservatism" is. After running for the White House claiming unity and inclusiveness, this amendment could only prove how wrong those claims were. Bush's advisors may be saying now is the time to bring up this touchy issue, but Bush may just be starting yet another war he can't win.

My feeling on this issue is that it's complete nonsense to pass an amendment such as this. If they actually manage to pass it (which I highly doubt they will--it seems to be serving more as a symbolic means to drag out the issue into political forums), I guarantee that it would be overturned within the next 20-25 years. All it would take is a steady Democratic Presidency (which will hopefully be arriving very soon). It sounds like a perfect issue for a lame duck President to work on. Especially since I truly believe the reason the public doesn't support gay marriage right now is because it's too new an idea to them. Gay culture has become more familiar to the general public in the past few years, thanks greatly to TV shows like Will and Grace and Queer Eye. However, when right-wingers start throwing out terms like "sanctity of marriage" and "protect the traditional union of a man and woman", the public gets worried. All it would take is another few years and as our culture gets more tolerant, it will seem crazy that we aren't offering at least something to gays. At that point, if it hadn't happened already, civil unions would pass first because that would seem to placate gays without "harming" marriage. However, just a few years after that, people will start to wonder, "Hmmm, we're offering them almost the same benefits of marriage just without using the term. What the hell's the point of that??" Once that happens, gay marriage will become part of our culture and will fit in so well that we'll wonder why it didn't happen earlier.

I mean, what are we protecting marriage from in the first place? In a society with a crippling divorce rate, something tells me that heterosexuals are already doing plenty of damage to marriage. Here is a whole group of people ready and willing to marry out of love and devotion and we're kicking them to the curb. Doesn't make any sense, does it? The problem, like with so many other problems, goes back to religion. The Christian far-right can't fathom the idea of homosexuals even existing, much less sanctifying their union via the government. Gay marriage would grant a legitimacy that conservatives are trying to avoid at all costs. So, it's to the pulpit they go spewing vitriol and intolerance in the name of Our Lord. It sickens me that the lessons of tolerance and understanding in the Bible get so mangled and perverted by these outspoken, closed-minded people. When these people come out of "The Passion of the Christ" this weekend, they'll venerate Jesus for dying for the sins of people like the Evil Homosexual without ever considering the sin of the hatred that hangs onto their backs.

For an interesting read on the subject, check out Salon.com's article here:
(You need a subscription to Salon.com to read it, but you can get a free day-pass just by viewing an ad--takes a minute and there are a wealth of worthwhile reads on their site).

How Greatly Endangering the Lives of Teenagers Is Padding Bush's Pockets -- OR -- Pre-Marital Sex is Bad, Bad, BAD!
I'm a little bit drained from that to rile myself back up for this one, so just go here: http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2004/02/24/abstinence/index.html
and read this Salon article on Bush's abstinence education policies. A pretty amazing read, actually. Bush has been dumping money into abstinence-only sex education programs, rejecting any programs that even think to tell kids to use condoms. This, despite the fact that abstinence-only programs have never been proven to be effective deterrants for teenage sex. Despite the fact that Texas, where Bush has been pushing these programs for years, has one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy in the country. Despite the fact that, by eliminating teaching about condoms, people who put off having sex are much more likely NOT to use a condom when they finally do. Bush has even appointed the unqualified heads of these programs to prestigious medical health positions in his administration. So, you ask, why would Bush put so much money into programs that don't work and only make the problem worse? Excellent question, indeed. The reason? Because he's not just putting money into these programs, he's putting millions in the Christian right. Sounds like a disgustingly familiar refrain, doesn't it? These programs are championed by Christian organizations and are run many times through churches and prayer groups. It serves as yet another way for Bush to pay off his supporters, thanking them for their votes and campaign donations. Of course, ALL of these religious groups receiving government money are Christian. Bush wouldn't like the idea of giving free money to Jewish groups who don't support him, even if they did support his sex education policies (which they don't). Bush placates his fellow conservative Christians while also mortgaging the lives of teenagers across the country. It's almost hard to take in all of this Evil coming from the White House. Not content with stealing the Presidency via the Supreme Court and his father's cronies, he has to rape the country mercilessly over the next four years. How can we even possibly consider putting him back in office? With lame duck status and no need to worry about his re-election prospects, that's when the true Evil will come out. I shudder to think at what would be next: more radical judicial appointments meaning his ill-will would be served for years and years to come, certainly a spirited effort to eradicate abortion rights, another unnecessary war (North Korea anyone?), and more federal overspending to flush our deficit even more into the red. It really exhausts me.