One of the things contributing to my sour mood of late has been my dashed hopes for a serious debate on gay marriage. I don’t hold with those (like HRC’s Solmonese) who see this latest Senate debate as a distraction from the real issues of the day.
As our society becomes increasingly accepting of homosexuality, it’s essential that we address the issue of state recognition of gay unions. It is quite possibly the most serious social issue facing gay America and we should be delighted of the national attention it is getting.
But, from what little I’ve seen of the Senate debate, it’s been most depressing. Instead of addressing the merits (or lack thereof) of the proposed constitutional amendment. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid has been using the debate (just like the gay groups, including Log Cabin*) as an excuse to bash Bush. Advocates of the amendment, by and large, seem to think that gay couples threaten marriage while ignoring (what even serious social conservatives see as) an even worse threat to the institution, divorce. (More on this anon.)
I have favored a debate on this amendment, even though I oppose it, because I had hoped it would raise a serious discussion of two very important questions: (1) how the state should treat same-sex unions; and (2) what is the role of the constitution in “settling” such contentious social issues.
Perhaps I’m just naive to believe that people can responsibly debate contentious social issues. (Some of the comments to this blog should have disabused me of this naivete long ago.)
One of the reasons I have cited Dale Carpenter in two recent posts (here and here) is that he for one is making the most of the recent debate and offering serious arguments on this important topic. Perhaps there are some Senators, like New Hampshire’s John Sununu in the last Senate debate, who are making good arguments (speeches which I did not discover when I checked the debate on TV or on the web).
But, for now it appears to me that the debate I had hoped to see is not coming to pass. I’ll try to do my utmost (on this blog at least) in the next few days to rectify that.
-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest): GayPatriotWest@aol.com
*More on this anon, I hope.
UPDATE: Seems Stephen Miller at Indegayforum agrees with me:
the response of even those Democrats and moderate Republicans voting against it–i.e., suggesting the topic itself is unworthy of debate–is also indefensible. What a display of gay political impotence all round, and a missed opportunity to make a positive case for the principle of equality (or even something closer to equality, such as civil unions)