Yes, with the litany of concerns that impact the daily lives of average Americans -- the war in Iraq, possible terrorist attacks against the U.S., secret government surveillance of citizens' phone calls, high fuel prices, huge budget deficits, runaway healthcare costs, global warming, political and corporate scandals, etc. -- the Republican Party thinks this is a good time to chuck it all and bash gay people for a little while.
This issue seems to get dragged out into the public arena every two years like clockwork, right around election time. And why not? Gay bashing has been a winning ticket for Republicans.
The spate of anti-gay marriage amendments that were on state ballots in 2004 is generally credited with helping President Bush win re-election. Here in Ohio, it's not too difficult to imagine the overwhelming passage of the marriage initiative as having tipped the tight presidential vote to him.
As we head into the mid-term election season, Bush's approval numbers are dreadful, Congressional Republicans are beset by scandal and the situation in Iraq worsens by day -- not a great formula for the GOP to be able to hold on to power. In fact, Democrats are headed toward wins in two key races this fall in Ohio, the Most Important State in the Whole World®: Ted Strickland as governor and Sherrod Brown in the U.S. Senate.
So Republicans have decided to give up trying to bring Americans together to deal with real problems and instead focus on the emotional, gut-wrenching issues that divide us: gay marriage, flag burning and abortion. Now that's leadership, by God.
First up this week is the glorious march toward protecting and defending the institution of marriage -- by keeping it out of the hands of homosexuals.
If Republicans or any lawmakers were truly serious about the institution of marriage, they'd take one or all of these actions: make divorce illegal across the country, make adultery a crime, ideally a felony, and require a test of some sort in order for people to obtain a marriage license.
If you knew going into a marriage that you'd have to study how to be a proper spouse in order to pass a licensing test (like you do to get a driver's license), that you'd never be able to get divorced and that you'd go to prison if you cheated on your spouse, well, the institution of marriage would have some pretty dedicated members. It'd be as solid as the Marine Corps.
Of course those ideas would never fly, since heterosexuals are too comfortable doing whatever the hell they want to do whenever they want to do it. So instead of the untidy business of passing moral judgment on each other, they'd rather judge gays to be unworthy and boost their own hollow feelings of moral superiority.
It reminds me of the Catholic Church, whose bishops deny women the opportunity to become clergy because the concept somehow "debases the institution" while they simultaneously protect and hide priests who sexually abuse young children. The mind staggers at the hypocrisy.
What's beyond hypocrisy? Hypercrisy?
Well, Republicans in Washington are about to lead us into new territory beyond Hypocrisyville as they waste valuable legislative time and energy on gay bashing. And why?
Deep down we all know that gay marriage some day will be legal in the U.S. It's inevitable. It's the way the world is moving, and, like with all civil rights movements, justice eventually will beat back intolerance.
During his appearance in Cincinnati last weekend, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) reminded his audience that Martin Luther King Jr. said the arc of history always bends toward justice (see Porkopolis on page 17) and that our role is to grab that arc and pull it down just a little bit further, hastening our path to justice. He wasn't necessarily talking about gay marriage, but what those words mean to me is this: If gay marriage is inevitable, as I believe it is, why can't we hasten it a bit on its way? Why make gay people suffer in the meantime?
Why not learn from Eric Hunter's cover story (page 27) about his 20-year journey from scared Cincinnati high school student to confident and successful gay adult? Why not learn from the news story (page 15) about the Mason couple who have struggled to get legal joint custody of their son because they're both women?
Instead, why must Republicans be so petty, mean, judgmental, devious and hypocritical? It's like asking why dogs lick their balls. Because they can.
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