Sunday | June 22, 2003
Bush's Gay Problem
Hundreds of gay and lesbian couples have wed in Ontario since an appeals court issued a historic decision last week that changed the definition of marriage in the province from the union of a man and woman to the union of two people. Prime Minister Jean Chretien has announced that his government would draft legislation legalizing same-sex marriages in all of Canada.
Court officials in Ontario report that dozens of American same-sex couples have crossed the border to register and exchange vows, hoping that some day their Canadian licenses will be recognized back home. Tour companies have created packages aimed at attracting same-sex couples in the United States to travel to Canada for weddings. Toronto's City Hall plans to remain open for Pride weekend, June 28-29, to give couples a chance to marry.
"I'm hoping more Americans come up here and get married and erode the Defense of Marriage Act," said Kyle Rae, a Toronto city councilor. "I think as more and more Americans come up to get married, states will have a difficult time not recognizing a sovereign state's marriage license."
No wonder the White House tried (unsuccessfully) to keep its distance from Mr. Santorum's embarrassment and remained mum when John Ashcroft's Justice Department moved to cancel its annual Gay Pride Month celebration. Mr. Bush has left in place a Clinton executive order protecting gays from being penalized in federal employment. Only six years after Republican senators, including Mr. Ashcroft, went ballistic over Bill Clinton's appointment of a gay man as ambassador to Luxembourg, Mr. Bush has appointed a gay man with a live-in partner as ambassador to Romania. .....
This ideological switch-hitting doesn't fly anymore. Patrick Guerriero, the former Melrose, Mass., mayor who now runs the gay Log Cabin Republicans, said in an interview last week that the time is arriving when "the Bush administration is going to have to decide to go on record" embracing gays "as part of the American family and the Republican party."......
This is an interesting dilemma, as things go. To pander to the right, Bush must support homophobes. Yet, the trend in America is to be more tolerant towards homosexual sex. Jerry Springer is a perfect example of this. Same-sex relationships are treated with respect there, as they are on most talk shows. It is rare to see openly homophobic comments in mainstream entertainment. Even entertainment's most homophobic art form, hip hop, is changing
But the reason I'm interested is that it reaches a fault line for the GOP. If they reject gays or make an issue of civil rights issues like marriage (a right denied blacks well past slavery), they become, once again, the party of intolerance. Given the fact that Dick Cheney's daughter is a lesbian advocate (she worked for Coors in that role for several years), it's amazing that this issue hasn't come home to roost for Bush before.
Now, the Bush Administration is faced with two unpalatable choices, decide to reject Canadian marriages and face ridicule from our allies or accept them and face the ire of his base. Because this will be litigated and it will come before federal court, probably as soon as this fall.
This also points out Canada's increasingly liberal stance on other social issues like Marijuana use, as the Bush Administration tries to defend conservative dogma.
It remains to be seen how Bush and Rove play this issue. My bet: where can the right go if Bush accept this? They can whine and complain, but the best they can do is stay home. They would have to decide how important this issue truly is to them and given that one can see lesbian liplocks every day on American TV, forget the multi-billion dollar porn industry, how many people really care if gays marry to the point they would abandon Bush?
Steve GilliardPosted June 22, 2003 01:36 PM | Comments (44)