UPDATE: THE AMENDMENT WAS DEFEATED IN THE SENATE ON WEDNESDAY JUNE 7TH
While the LGBT community and our heterosexual supporters gathered on Saturday, June 3rd in the Tower District to celebrate the 16th annual Fresno Pride Parade & Festival, the President of the United States had a much different agenda on his mind. On the June 3rd edition of his weekly radio address, President George W Bush resurrected a campaign that, although we may have thought was forgotten, never left his mind for a second. This edict from GW was issued at the start of June, the one month out of every year that is devoted to Gay Pride. Coincidence? It’s also at the top of the list for the returning Senate on Monday morning, June 5th. They won’t be giving terrorism, or the war in Iraq, or health care or alternative energy any priority on Monday. No, they’re worried about gay people.
GW hasn’t always been in favor of a constitutional amendment. In one of his biggest "flip flops" Bush in 2000 said that the states should decide the laws of marriage, then stated completely the opposite, going so far as to amend the US Constitution in order to thwart same sex marriage, in 2004.
“The state can do what they want to do. Don’t try to trap me in this state’s issue like you’re trying to get me into."
Gov. George W. Bush on Gay Marriage, Larry King Live, 2/15/00
"Today I call upon the Congress to promptly pass, and to send to the states for ratification, an amendment to our Constitution defining and protecting marriage as a union of man and woman as husband and wife."
President Bush, Feb 24th, 2004
Recently, Laura Bush told FOX News that she disagreed with her husband regarding a constitutional amendment. ( Complete interview: Laura Bush interview ) Mary Cheney, on the same show, said the amendment would "write discrimination into the constitution". Even Vice President Dick Cheney has publicly stated that he’s against a constitutional amendment, although he’d tow the line and support it if GW wants it. (Who’s the bottom in that relationship? Ironically, it’s Dick) Majority leader Bill Frist leads the push to amend the constitution in order to add discrimination to it. He was also recently interviewed on this and other topics on FOX News . Frist also proposed a flag burning amendment , another completely anti-American proposition.
As this rhetoric has filled the airwaves over the last few years, a common argument emerges which is still very much alive in GW’s speech. To those in opposition to it, same sex marriage is a “threat” to traditional marriage and the very fabric of America. This “threat”, however, has never been defined. In Bush’s radio address he states that changing who can legally be married will “weaken this good influence on society”. How? Who knows? No one has ever said how it would happen. Somehow, conservatives have been able to ride this wave of ignorance, hatred and prejudice merely by using certain fear based statements which in themselves, state nothing at all. Ironically, the legalization of same sex marriage would not effect traditional marriage in any way. Traditional marriage has nothing to do with it. Nothing at all. That is the reason they can’t define the “threat”. It doesn’t exist. But in a country where citizens are as easily programmed as a remote, empty words and meaningless diatribes still carry weight, and that is what we must fight against.
You can start by signing this petition to protest a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage. You can continue by talking about this issue with others. Ask them to define the threat and explain that same sex marriage in no way has any effect on heterosexual marriage. We must speak out in order to stop both a radical and complacent population from legislating prejudice. Traditional marriage may sound cozy, but what it really means is that a certain population of the American citizenry has historically battered and restricted those who aren’t the same as them, denying them equal civil rights and opportunities. The walls of traditional marriage are built out of exclusion, hatred and ignorance, and since a large number of Americans are clearly built to follow and not reason, a change in these prejudicial laws will automatically initiate a shift in popular thought.
Tuesday, June 6th is one opportunity to have your voice heard, and coming soon in November, is another. If you are a member of the LGBT community or support that community, and you aren’t voting, you are absolutely inflicting harm on all members of that community. It’s not acceptable, with what is now unfolding in America, to find an excuse not to vote. It seems at times that we are helpless against this ignorant and hateful portion of the American population, but that’s not entirely true. We should not only vote in every election, but we should do our best to encourage others to do so as well. Pride was fun, but it’s over, at least in Fresno, and it’s time to do get active.
As I’ve written here before, you can avoid any hassles in regards to voting by registering as an absentee. While to this day I still get dismissive attitudes from some people about a supposed laziness of people who vote by absentee ballot, I know first hand the benefits of it It’s just as valid a method of voting as going to the polls, I get to take time to read and discuss the issues, and I can fill out my ballot with thought and patience.
The fact that I don’t have to deal with little "I Voted" stickers on my chest or waiting in lines is just an added bonus.