The Plain Dealer, July 6, 2003
Have Lost Fight Against Gays
1801 Superior Ave., Cleveland, Ohio 44114
surprising about the decision in Lawrence et al v. Texas was not that the
Supreme Court struck down the Texas anti-sodomy law, but that it took so long
for the court to recognize gays as people.
finally undid its 1986 ruling upholding a law in Georgia and 24 other states
at the time that allowed the government to invade the private behavior of
consenting adults by criminalizing same-sex lovemaking—a decision as onerous
in its way as the infamous Dred Scott decision legitimizing slavery.
itself, the court caught up with the commonsense wisdom of a majority of
Americans who have come to recognize that homosexuality is not a lifestyle
choice but a variant of birth that is as natural as heterosexuality, though
experts speculated, and Justice Antonin Scalia warned in his angry dissenting
opinion, the next logical step is for states and the federal government to
recognize gay marriage or, at the least, same-sex civil unions.
This kind of
talk has set off alarms among religious conservatives in the country and
energized their champions in Congress to bulldoze another hole in the wall
separating church and state.
Frist, the Republican majority leader, was quick to endorse a proposed
constitutional amendment saying that “marriage in the United States shall
consist only of the union of a man and woman.”
much feel that marriage is a sacrament that has traditionally in our western
values been defined as between a man and woman,” he said.
of course, is a Christian rite that should have no place in man-made laws that
respect religious differences by not promoting any one doctrine.
exalting traditional matrimony as Frist has done, by saying it has God’s
blessing, does not do God any favors since half of U.S. marriages end in
members of the House who introduced the constitutional amendment represent a
variety of beliefs—Assembly of God, Catholic, United Methodist,
Presbyterian, Lutheran and just plain Christian—but there is not unanimity
even among Christians about same-sex unions.
Christians interpret various passages in the Bible as forbidding homosexual
behavior. Liberal Christians tend to give more weight to scientific research
on human sexuality over the last half-century than to the strict biblical
has followed the political career of George W. Bush can have any doubt where
he stands on this issue—on what he believes is God’s side, of course. Yet,
even though the court test originated in Bush’s home state of Texas, the
Bush administration did not take sides in the case. As for the constitutional
amendment, Bush says he is leaving that up to the lawyers, adding, “What I
do support is a notion that marriage is between a man and a woman.”
president has chosen to walk the line between religious zealots who want
vengeance against the sexual infidels and suburban soccer moms who value
compassion and understanding in human dealings. He needs the support of both
to be re-elected.
Bush and Co.
would do well to follow the lead of roughly 40 percent of Fortune 500
companies (Wal-Mart is the most recent) that grant benefits to gay couples on
a par with married partners. These companies have not “signed on to the
so-called homosexual agenda” as Scalia accused the court majority of doing,
but have acknowledged the need to recruit and retain gay workers.
provocative cover story on gay marriage quotes Kevin Cathcart, executive
director of the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, which has
masterminded gay-rights legal strategy, as saying he has to deal with the
“ick factor” about homosexual acts that makes some heterosexuals squirm.
people, the Supreme Court had a simple message: Get over it.
have a long way to go before they are recognized as normal under the law. For
instance, only 11 states permit same-sex couples to adopt children, although
there is no evidence that being raised by gays influences children’s own
recently joined Belgium and the Netherlands in recognizing same-sex unions,
and Vermont was the first state, but won’t be the last, to do the same.
The answer to
the question posed on Newsweek’s cover—“Is gay marriage next?”—is
yes, sooner or later. And homophobic politicians, like their racist
predecessors of a bygone era, do not dignify their prejudice by cloaking it in
- Brazaitis, formerly a Plain Dealer senior editor,
is a Washington columnist. Contact Tom Brazaitis at firstname.lastname@example.org,
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