Printer friendly version

October 26, 2004

I've About Had It with the Deliberate Deafness

Here's Andrew Sullivan on Bush's recent comments in support of civil unions:

Who knows what to make of George W. Bush's statement today that he now favors civil unions for gay couples--although his party platform is against them. For what it's worth, I tend to think this is his real position, rather than a belated realization that his extremism on this matter has cost him many votes. But if it is his real position, why didn't he say so before? And how can he support the FMA which specifically bars the "incidents of marriage" for gay couples? President speak in forked tongue.

You know, I'm really beginning to rethink my belief that Andrew Sullivan is a conniving activist; he may very well have convinced himself right into delusion. That part about "a belated realization that his extremism on this matter has cost him many votes" is almost too much to take. Sullivan has personally done everything he possibly could, over the past couple of years, to paint everything having to do with preserving traditional marriage in Fundamentalist Red, and now he has the gall — the gall — continue behaving as if there is no dispute about what the FMA will do, let alone as if he isn't on the wrong side of the analysis.

In fact, I was inclined to allocate some blame to Sullivan's historically obscuring rhetoric for the fact that Michael Totten, writing on Instapundit, would declare Bush's statement a flip-flop. Totten subsequently updated with a link to Eugene Volokh's explanation of why he's wrong, but it is only through the deliberate avoidance of the discussion by folks such as Sullivan that people wouldn't at least know that another side exists. Here's one version, from February, of my explanation about why "incidents of marriage" won't prevent the creation of civil unions (see also here, here, here, and multiple other posts on this blog for more):

So, a legislature could pass a law giving a $10,000 down-payment gift to married couples. It could pass another law giving a $10,000 down-payment gift to civil-unioned couples. Yet, the judiciary could not introduce that same policy arbitrarily, and if it somehow found a right to $10,000 written into the constitution, it's extremely difficult to see why it would be limited to married people, or civil unions, or groups of people, or what have you.

In this example, the FMA would restrict both the legislature and the judiciary from expanding that $10,000 marital perk to others on the basis of its being a marital perk. In the amendment's language, the fact that married couples are currently entitled to the money, of itself, cannot be construed to require that other couples or groups are similarly entitled. But a legislature, by its nature, isn't limited to discerning what the law requires or restricted from setting up parallel perks; a judiciary, by its nature, is.

These arguments have been around for years. I know: I've been one of the people making them for that long. If you haven't heard them — particularly if you've paid as much attention to the issue as Andrew Sullivan has — it's because you haven't been listening.

Posted by Justin Katz at October 26, 2004 9:03 PM
Marriage & Family

My friend Terry ( has a pretty strongly-worded reaction:

"In an amazing reversal, President Bush says he favors civil unions for gay people.

"F__k you, Mr. President. I say again, f__k you.

"You have four years of gay-baiting politics under your belt, and you didn't spell out your "revelation" during any of the debates over your proposed constitutional amendment because you knew it would alienate your conservative base. You want to reach out to us now? You have a change of heart on the eve of the election?

"F__k you, Mr. President. I say again, f__k you.

"You're like a wife beater who turns up with flowers on her birthday and expects everything to be right again. You want to be forgiven so you won't see what a miserable s__t you've been every time you look in a mirror or notice the bruises. You've had plenty of opportunities to get it right and you've failed. Try again with some poor bitch who doesn't know you the way we do, one who hasn't seen your record."

Well, I try to be a bit more diplomatic than that, but I understand Terry's indigation. This sort of shameless political posturing is just what I might expect from Bush Jr. in the final days of the campaign. And all the wailing and gnashing of teeth from the Family Reseach Council, American Family Association, etc. notwithstanding, Bush's support from the theocons is still solid. They believe he is on a mission from God, that he is playing a role in Biblical prophecy.

As for me, I'm not buying it. Let Bush Jr. suggest the Gay couples ought to be able to file joint federal tax returns and declare one another beneficiaries under Social Security, and even I'D vote him. But I'm not holding my breath.

Posted by: Chuck Anziulewicz at October 27, 2004 9:54 AM

I have a tendency toward believing that President Bush hasn't been involved with arguing against SSM like I have. When I first started arguing against SSM, I too thought that a Civil Union for Gay Practitioners would be okay as long as it wasn't marriage. I've since come to the conclusion that Civil Unions are marriage-lite solutions that are just as harmful to the institution of marriage as SSM. I think President Bush would change his mind about Civil Unions if he had been arguing with the same people as I have on these issues.

I'm still voting for Bush. We can bring him up to speed on this issue once the election is over.

Well, Chuck, it looks like this time you failed to be a bit more diplomatic. You could have left the other comments (from Terry) where you found them.

Posted by: smmtheory at October 27, 2004 12:25 PM

SSMTHEORY: "You could have left the other comments (from Terry) where you found them."

Well, at least I sanitized them for your protection.

Posted by: Chuck Anziulewicz at October 27, 2004 1:04 PM

That's what you call sanitizing Chuck? I don't even want to think about what your bathroom is like if that's the case.

Posted by: smmtheory at October 27, 2004 4:38 PM

My bathrooms are both SPOTLESS, thank you very much.

Posted by: Chuck Anziulewicz at October 27, 2004 4:55 PM


Excellent post (as usual) on this subject. Yes, you and Stanley Kurtz seem to be the only ones really paying attention to the issue.

The big thing is that Sullivan must have some idea that courts will ram through gay "marriage" at some point in the future.

In fact, he's counting on it. Until that time, however, he'd rather bide his time and make (1) False federalist arguments for it; (2) False "conservative" notions for it; (3) Branding as radical and bigoted those who are engaged in the most "conservative" enterprise in the world - preserving the traditional family and (4) Hoping no one catches onto the whole game (and, he has plenty of company in this regard).

Posted by: Aaron at October 27, 2004 9:39 PM

I told you Chuck, I didn't want to think about it; but I think you ought to know that considering what you term as sanitized somehow steals all credibility from your spotless definition. And please, don't even post pictures to prove your bathroom is spotless... nobody cares.

Posted by: smmtheory at October 28, 2004 1:22 AM