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Bush kicks gays.

When he was about to run for resident the first time around, George W. Bush confided to a friend that he was under pressure from James Dobson and other rightwing evangelicals to attack gays and lesbians.

Bush assured his friend: "I'm not going to kick gays."

But that was then.

And this is now.

And now the Republicans have nothing else to run on, so Bush is kicking away.

In his weekly radio address on June 3 and in a speech two days later, Bush threw his support behind the constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, knowing full well that it was doomed.

"Marriage," he insisted, "cannot be cut off from its cultural, religious, and natural roots."

But it's not up to the government to defend marriage as a religious institution. That's up to the church or the mosque or the synagogue. And "natural" roots are not necessarily normative ones. Humans have natural aggressive impulses, for instance. We don't enshrine those in our laws. To make a cultural claim is also tricky, since prejudice can be in the water of a culture. White supremacists and anti-suffragists often talked about the "sanctity of our culture" to justify their attitudes.

Simply put, there is no rational, secular reason why a lesbian couple that's been together for two decades can't get married but two drunk heterosexuals who met last week on a bender can stagger down the aisle in Vegas.

Bush and other rightwingers tell us that same-sex marriage would undermine the family.

But how would letting two gay men who fell in love last year undermine anybody's family?

What is undermining the family is poverty, infidelity, and wife beating, none of which has anything to do with same-sex marriage.

The merits of the case didn't interest Bush, though. He was playing to his far right evangelical base. Joining him by his invitation in Washington on June 5 were, among others, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council and James Dobson himself (who even got an interview with White House Press Secretary Tony Snow afterwards).

Bush's rhetorical strategy was clear: Make the enemy "activist judges."

In his ten-minute speech that day, he used the term "activist judges" three times, "overreaching judges" once, "activist courts" once, and judges or courts at least five other times. That's a sneer a minute.

Bush doesn't respect the right of the judiciary to uphold the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment or the equality and anti-discrimination guarantees of state constitutions.

And he has the habit of ending his talks on the subject of same-sex marriage with a call for "tolerance, respect, and dignity"--after he's just finished fomenting intolerance, fertilizing disrespect, and stripping millions of Americans of their dignity.

Fortunately, the constitutional amendment failed in Congress. But versions of it have been passing in state after state. This November, as Judith Davidoff reports for us in her cover story, voters in several states will weigh in on the marriage ban, which often doubles as a ban on domestic partnership benefits, as well. Davidoff explores the nightmares that all these bans create.

Except with Prohibition, we've never before amended our Constitution to take rights away from people.

We shouldn't start now.
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Title Annotation:George W. Bush
Author:Rothschild, Matthew
Publication:The Progressive
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 1, 2006
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