Marriage Madness

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
June 5 2006 6:54 PM

Marriage Madness

Bloggers wonder whether the current push for the Federal Marriage Amendment is just a political ploy by Republicans. They also wonder if the Pentagon is pulling away from the Geneva Conventions, and they mark the 25th anniversary of AIDS.

Marriage madness: President Bush reiterated his support Monday for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage even though it has little chance of passage. Bush's speech came as the Senate was set to open three days of debate on the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment.

Moderate law professor Ann Althouse quotes this snippet from Sen. Ted Kennedy—"A vote for this amendment is a vote for bigotry pure and simple"—and sees it slightly differently. "I'd say it's a vote for political gain -- whichever side you're voting on -- and it's not the least bit pure, though it is rather simple."

Whether the president really personally wants a gay-marriage amendment is also being questioned. Just last year, Bush said he saw no reason to push for a constitutional amendment, since it had no chance in the Senate so long as the Defense of Marriage Act remained on the books. The act allows states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. And today, The Huffington Post points to a Newsweek piece in which an anonymous Bush friend said, "I don't think he gives a s--t about it. He never talks about this stuff."

That, combined with the fact a two-thirds majority is required for passage has bloggers—and not just those on the left—seeing a transparent attempt to boost the GOP's chances in the midterm elections this fall. "Bush is trying to appease angry conservatives and Christians by pushing this amendment," writes Christian ex-liberal La Shawn Barber. "It's an empty and meaningless gesture because the thing will never be ratified."

At InstaPundit, libertarian law prof Glenn Reynolds revels in the dissent. "Message to Karl Rove: When you're being double-teamed by LaShawn Barber and Dave Weigel, you're probably working from the wrong playbook," Reynolds writes, asking why proven poll concerns like immigration and earmarks aren't being highlighted. "[W]hy not try addressing those issues sensibly, instead of trying to run on symbolism?"

Gay blogger and conservative contrarian Andrew Sullivan wonders whether Rove is losing his magic touch: "The whole point of the marriage amendment b.s. in the Senate this week is appeasing the Christianist base of the GOP. At least that's the theory. It has its costs. By spear-heading the FMA again, Bush has alienated a vast swathe of socially inclusive suburbanites, the veep's daughter, every gay person and many of their families, libertarians, constitutional conservatives and principled federalists. But he's won over the fire-breathers, right? It turns out: Not even them any more."

Read more about the gay-marriage debate. Read the president's Saturday radio address about the amendment.

Torture, by the book: In a move that may heighten criticism of American policy regarding torture, the Pentagon plans to omit from its new detainee policies a key Geneva Conventions principle explicitly banning humiliation and degradation.

"If this were an isolated action, this attempt to rewrite the rules for the treatment of prisoners, it would be one thing," bemoans John Cole at Balloon Juice. "But it isn't -- it is right out of the administration's playbook -- create gray areas, remove protections, and release the United States from any accountability for actions the rest of the world (and a goodly portion of the United States) find deplorable."

It should be noted that the Pentagon's decision centers on the administration's belief that illegal combatants don't merit Geneva treatment. For that reason, "I think the changes simply pragmatic," writes right-leaning Jeff Goldstein at Protein Wisdom, "both as a response to a Western culture so steeped in PC posturing that it has lost the ability to recognize torture and distinguish it from other (legal) techniques for gleaning information from enemy captures who are not part of some standing army (and so should not be given Geneva Convention treatment)."

On Outside the Beltway, conservative James Joyner is sympathetic to that argument but wonders whether it's worth further harming the American military's reputation, especially in light of Abu Ghraib. "[T]his is an incredibly hamhanded way of addressing these concerns. Even though our enemy by no means adheres to international law, our failure to do so undermines our moral authority."

Read more about the Geneva controversy.

AIDS at 25: Monday marked the 25th anniversary of the official onset of the AIDS epidemic. On June 5, 1981, a UCLA doctor published the details of five mysterious cases of immune-system deficiency. Since then, more than 25 million people have died of the disease.

D.C. blogger Republic of T, in a lengthy personal essay, notes how AIDS surfaced right when he came out of the closet—as well as how Monday's anniversary coincided with the gay-marriage debate. "[W]hat struck me most was that today's anti-gay grandstanding will probably serve to derail more lives as it distracts some communities and people from issues far more urgent than the threat [they] imagine my family poses to them and theirs."

Looking back on AIDS' rise in the 1980s, lefty blog Musing's Musings takes the Reagan administration to task for stigmatizing the disease as a gay affliction: "It's elementary biology that a virus doesn't care about the sexual orientation of those it infects--only whether or not they are suitable hosts." But right-winger Debbie Schlussel claims that it isn't everyone's disease and complains that AIDS garners a greater percentage of research dollars than its deaths warrant: "It's time to stop the insanity."

Read more about the AIDS anniversary.

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