What Wasn’t Said Tuesday Night

Subject: Hate of the Union speech

I was screaming at the television during the “Hate of the Union” speech! I couldn’t believe this man was using this speech to go after a small group that is seeking equality. I was particularly struck that George Bush never mentioned the words “same-sex marriage” at all in his attack on gays and lesbians. Is that part of the strategy (where we don’t get any legitimacy by even being named) or do you think he is just uncomfortable with the words and can’t even say them?

And tell me how can the Bush administration get away with saying that judges are taking away the rights of the majority when they’re upholding the rights of the minority?

Re: Hate of the Union speech

You’re really raising the bar too high when you actually expect logic from this administration. To answer your first question first, both of your theories are probably true to an extent. But more so, Bush is speaking in code. He never did say “gay,” “homosexual&Mac226;” or even “same-sex&Mac226; marriage” as you point out, hoping that the folks who knew what he was talking about––the religious right armies who’ve been pressuring him support an amendment to the Constitution banning same-sex marriage––would get it, while at the same time not appearing intolerant in the view of suburban swing voters.

The president’s approach was grotesque just the same––and with the media’s intense scrutiny, not very successful at disguising his hate speech––in part because of how Bush led into the discussion of marriage and the “activist judges” who are, according to him, changing its definition in a negative way. He began by speaking about “abstinence-only” programs and sexually-transmitted diseases (thereby making that link the Christian conservatives always make between homosexuality and dangerous sex), and then meandered into this line of thought:

“Decisions children make now can affect their health and character for the rest of their lives. All of us––parents, schools, government––must work together to counter the negative influence of the culture, and to send the right messages to our children.”

From there, Bush claimed that “America must also value the institution of marriage” and stated that “we take a principled stand for one of the most fundamental, enduring institutions of our civilization,” going on to attack those “activist judges.”

This was vicious, coded defamation, designed to telegraph to the religious zealots that he agrees with them that “negative influence of the culture” leads to homosexual behavior. Discussing “decisions” that children make that “affect their health and character” just before his discussion about the “sanctity of marriage,” Bush was promoting the idea of homosexuality is a choice, and an unhealthy one at that.

It took a lot of gall for Bush—a president who was selected by the Supreme Court––to lecture us about activist judges usurping the rights of the people. And this was, of course, completely bogus, as the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court simply upheld the constitution of that state in maintaining that gays should be given all the rights of marriage. Moreover, polls have shown a majority of Massachusetts residents support same-sex marriage. What excuse would Bush use if the majority of people in that state actually voted to support same-sex marriage?

It’s not about the majority, of course, but about a minority––the Christian right minority––which dominates the Republican Party and to whom Bush panders. Bush went further in the State of the Union than he’d previously gone, more forcefully saying he’d support an amendment to the Constitution, and still some religious right groups weren’t happy. The Family Research Council sent out a whining release. Hopefully, this issue will continue to split the Republican Party, as moderates get irked––Connecticut Republican Rep. Christopher Shays, for example, said the gay marriage stuff had no place being in the speech––and as the fundamentalists continue to be unyielding.

I’ve maintained for a while that this issue is a bigger problem for Bush than it needs to be for any of the Democrats. So far that’s proven true.

Subject: The silent Democrats

Why did none of the Democrats jeer Bush when he called for a marriage amendment? They booed and grumbled when he talked about the tax cuts and the Patriot Act but silence when he brought up gay marriage.

Re: The silent Democrats

I think we were lucky enough that we didn’t see them standing up and applauding! Senator Barbara Mikulski, long rumored to be a closeted lesbian––she has refused to answer the question, including when I asked her at a Barnes & Noble book signing several years ago, after she voted for the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)––stood up for Bush quite a bit last night. But she stayed seated during the marriage talk––though you&Mac226;re right, she should have been outraged, booed, and turned her back!

The problem with the Democrats is that they brought us DOMA––with Bill Clinton somberly signing it in the middle of the night––and most say they oppose same-sex marriage, even though they approve of civil unions and/or domestic partnerships. This is all about their fears of seeming radical, and it’s completely disingenuous, as I’ve said before.

Furthermore, it puts them on the defensive when it comes to opposing an amendment to the Constitution.

Why, after all, if they are opposed to marriage, should they not want to make the Constitution stipulate it? Unless, of course, they’re not really opposed to it, but are afraid to say it.

That’s why the issue made them squirm when Bush brought it up. As I said above, this doesn’t have to be a problem for the Democrats––unless they make it a problem themselves.

Email Mike Signorile at Mike@Signorile.com.

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