Gay Marriage back in the spotlight
Not long after the MA Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to block same-sex couples from marrying, there was talk about a US Constitutional Amendment to address that very issue. The President indicated he would consider such a move but that announcement was fairly lukewarm at the time. Clearly, he wanted to signal his acceptance of that kind of amendment, but not so strongly as to risk a backlash if one were to come. True to form in American society, there were 3 reactions to his preliminary support: the ultra-right-wing conservatives applauded and wanted it passed the next day, the left-wing and gay communities shook their collective fists at the White House vowing to fight such a proposal to the death, and the huge majority of Americans in the middle… well, they got their cup of coffee at Starbucks, made a “hmmm”-ing noise at the headlines and moved on. Such is the state of political involvement here in the US.
The amendment is apparently going to be put forth by Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-Colo.). Backers of the bill say that it will ban gay marriage but not stop state legislatures from allowing civil unions and other same-sex partnerships such as currently exist in Vermont and California. If I read the story correctly, then I must disagree with that assessment. From the Reuters article:
|space here||Musgrave’s proposal, called the Federal Marriage Amendment, states: “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.”||space here|
Now, if we’re going to deny the status of “married” to same-sex couples, then those couples are permanently placed in that “unmarried couples or groups” category and are not, in the language of this amendment, required to be granted either marital status or “the legal incidents thereof”. So how can you say that civil unions offer a similar set of legal protections, since they aren’t required to grant those protections? And without those protections, what’s the point? I’m sure it’ll make a lot of bakeries and wedding shops happy, but what does it do for the couples? Not much.
Now, the amendment does leave open the possibility for states to make civil unions that do have those protections. The question would be, will states that sign on for this amendment ever do such a thing? I think not and this is what’s worrying opponents of this amendment.
When all is said and done, my marriage isn’t a commodity sitting on a shelf. Someone else putting up a marriage of their own does nothing whatsoever to degrade mine in any way. It’s not “cheaper” and it’s not suddenly worth less because Ken & Ron decided to tie the knot. There are all manner of things that could use a Constitutional amendment and I think that putting energy into something that won’t really help anyone is a waste. We have so much of importance that needs good, rational, public debate that this issue just pales beside. We shouldn’t waste the resources pursuing it.
French pass head-scarf ban
In fact, the so-called “head scarf ban” passed by the French National Assembly actually covers “conspicuous religious symbols” and not just head scarves. Since the head coverings worn by Muslim women are the most visible, however, it’s certainly gotten the lion’s share of the news. I have been amazed that the ban seemed headed for passage until I read that there appears to be widespread support for the ban. Even among Muslim women, support for the ban is supposedly 49% vs 43% opposed.
Kerry wins in Virginia, Clark to quit the race
As I’m sure will be reported to death today, John Kerry has won primaries in Virginia and Tennessee. Seems Wesley Clark has realized he’s got no chance now and will announce his withdrawl from the race today.