Monday, October 06, 2003
( 2:59 PM )
A Leap from Mere Hypocrisy to Outright Repulsiveness
The Bush administration has once again pulled one of its "funny coincidences" in timing again. Just like George W. using Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday to announce his non-support of affirmative action at the University of Michigan earlier this year, just like when George W. announced on Mother's Day a bill that he called "family flex leave," but which actually intended to rob working mothers and fathers of overtime pay, he's gone and done it again.
Per the white house's website, Bush has declared "Marriage Protection Week" to start on October 12.
October 12 is the anniversary of the murder of Matthew Shephard. Coincidence? I don't think so. The white house is clear in its intention:
Marriage is a sacred institution, and its protection
is essential to the continued strength of our society.
Marriage Protection Week provides an opportunity to
focus our efforts on preserving the sanctity of marriage
and on building strong and healthy marriages in America.
Marriage is a union between a man and a woman, and
my Administration is working to support the institution of
marriage by helping couples build successful marriages
and be good parents.
Matthew Shephard's death horrified the country. Most of us asked ourselves: what have we become? But the lesson was short lived for some, I guess.
It is not just an attempt at erasure of Matthew Shephard's memory, but it is an intentional acknowledgment of absolute insensitivity and non-caring toward his parents and family and the community that is most threatened by the exact actions that killed Matthew. And still, some Bush supporters want to go even further.
Bush and his conservative right empowerers have been very blunt about their intention to try to outlaw civil unions for gay couples. They swear upon the holiness and sanctity of marriage and that marriage is only between a man and a woman and it must be protected at all costs.
So my question is simple. If it's that important to the fabric of our society, why isn't divorce outlawed? Over 50% of marriages end in divorce in this country... that's marriages between a man and a woman. Yet, committed gay couples who have shown the same or longer committment and haven't split up are not allowed to adopt children, foster children, visit each other in the hospital, have spousal benefits or any of the same things. Why? Because it offends our sense of sanctity. So why should heterosexual couples be allowed to divorce if marriage is the key ingredient to our society surviving? And, by the way, wouldn't an environment that promoted family commitments for gay couples do more to strengthen a family-oriented society than hurt it?
If Matthew Shephard, RIP, had lived to become an adult, an educated man who contributed to our society and who perhaps loved someone and decided to commit to a lifelong partnership with that person and raise children... he would not have been treated equally in our country. Equality is a standard we proudly claim to the rest of the world, and yet, in truth, it's blatantly ignored when it comes to certain people who evidently don't deserve the same rights. By the terms set by this administration, Matthew's right to marriage, children and family committment would not have been protected. Nor are the rights of any other gay man or woman seeking the same thing.
To start this Marriage Protection Week on the same day as Matthew Shephard's death is like throwing it in the face of all gay people and all gay couples that they are not acceptable. Sort of an oh by the way, we think it's awful when you don't get treated fairly (but not really), or you can't visit your partner of 20 years in the hospital (but not really), or you lose your job in the military that you were really good at (but not really), or that you get beaten to death (but not really) - but god forbid if you try to lead healthy, family-centered lives and think you're going to contribute to our sanctified society!
I don't have words to describe my disgust.
(thanks to Atrios for the heads-up)
UPDATE: Strangechord said more about this a few days ago. And Shock & Awe called it for what it is: National Discriminate Against Gay Couples Week.
A further personal comment: While many people feel strongly in their religious beliefs that homosexuality is unacceptable (and though I disagree, I defend their right to their own beliefs), what I find to be unacceptable is my government is presuming to publicly declare an intolerance of some of my own friends and family, and I have no say in that. This - my - government is also making proclamations in accordance with a set of beliefs adhered to by only some of its constituents, and such proclamations directly discriminate against other of its constituents. This government is taking on the role of the church in this issue, and that is wholly unacceptable. It should be unacceptable to church people because it opens the door to the government being able to dictate the beliefs and moralities of all people, and while they allow this president to do this because he shares their beliefs, what will they do if the next president believes something different? A firm line must be drawn between what the government has the right to interfere in, and it should not be the definition of, or the (meaningless) protection of, its version of what is a "good marriage." I find it utterly reprehensible that some people presume to influence this president in a way that discriminates and insults other American citizens, many of which are just as God-fearing and good, and that, in turn, the president bends to that influence in this way. Okay, I'm done. For now.
Okay, I'm back again: In a further update, I note several people commenting on the article by Jennifer Graham today in the National Review. Pandagon and TBogg get it right - I urge you to read their commentaries. I wish that millions of people didn't read the National Review or listen to Rush Limbaugh, but I know they do. What I find so horrifying is that so many in this nation are willing to allow this subtle form of racist bigotry persist. It's this kind of mentality that makes possible things like proclamations declaring a week that boldly discriminates against citizens of this country. Argghh!!