BARNSTORMING 

BARNSTORMING

DEM BOYS DO -- OR DO IN -- THE GAY MARRIAGE ISSUE You say tomato, I say tomahto, you say Civil Union, and I say tomahto… Edwards and Kerry continue to split hairs on Gay Marriage So John Edwards says he personally opposes gay marriage but supports civil unions. And like all true Republicans this Democrat and presidential dreamer believes that the Federal Government should back off and let the states set their own marriage policies. When pressed by the media to explain how marriage and civil unions might be, you know-- different--he said, “My answer is the same.” Yeah. He actually said that. And to toss the boyish Southerner a scrap, what else could he say? No, really? His platform neatly summarized: “I love me some Mountain Oysters, but am morally, spiritually, and tastefully opposed to the human consumption of BULL NUTS!!!” Now this from John Kerry’s website: “John Kerry supports same-sex civil unions so that gay couples can no longer be denied the health benefits, inheritance rights, or Social Security survivor benefits that are guaranteed for heterosexual couples.” But what does he think about gay marriage? He’s against them, naturally. This is the same John Kerry who in 1996 opposed federal legislation defining marriage as, “a union between a man and a woman.” In ‘96 he compared the proposed legislation to Southern laws from the 1960’s banning interracial marriages. He said that anyone who supported such legislation was engaging in the "politics of division." In ‘96, of course, he wasn’t running for President. And while his heart is still in the right place, Kerry is endorsing a policy of “separate but equal”: engaging in the politics of division. Unless Oz gives that boy a dose of courage, he’s going to end up looking like a schmuck whenever anyone asks him to explain how this--you know--”marriage thing” is somehow different from this other--well-- “civil thing.” And believe me, people are going to keep asking. In the most recent Democratic debate Kerry attempted to dodge the issue of Gay marriage by pointing out that it was not the most important issue in this election. He stressed that Iraq is a more pressing international concern; on the domestic front we should focus on the economy. And when it comes to taking the fight to George W. Bush he is entirely correct. But when did civil rights become a secondary issue in America? When did it become unimportant? That is, after all, what the whole Gay Marriage thing is about. Right? Anybody remember something called leadership? Sure, it’s an elected official’s responsibility to represent his or her constituency, yada, yada, yada. But leaders--real leaders-- get out in front of the curve and help to shape public opinion. Framed properly, Gay Marriage is a winning issue for the Democrats. But they have to own it, and quibbling over nomenclature just isn’t going to get the job done. Not by a long shot. Even though it seems unlikely that a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage will pass, Kerry and Edwards should remind the public who proposed this unconscionable action in the first place: who tried to infect the Great Document of Freedom with the language and the virus of discrimination. And for the love of Pete, if they are going to support civil unions, they might as well call it marriage. Because no matter how you slice it, Gay Marriage sounds a helluva lot better than “Jim Crow.” This is a pretty grim time for Americans. Jobs that pay a living wage are hard to come by. The folks who have jobs have seen wages stagnate, bills multiply. We’ve come more and more to distrust, and even disapprove of our once infallible leaders. We’ve watched an unprovoked act of aggression blow up in our faces. And we’ve seen a handful of American Corporations with big-time political clout rake in all the good gravy. We are, as an aggregation of humans, in a collective funk: riddled with guilt, wracked by indecision, filled with economic, and existential panic. We live beneath the watchful eye of doom: a kaleidoscope of color-coded terror alerts. Sure, the issue of gay marriage is as complex as the institution itself, but from a purely populist P.O.V. marriage is about one thing. It’s about happiness. If the Democrats come out “pro-happiness” that means that, the Bush campaign has to assume the position of, “anti-happiness.” Call me a latter day Aquarian, but when the stink of corruption fills the air, people start needing things like harmony, understanding, sympathy, and trust: the iconic, perhaps overstated values that define the Kerry/Edwards Ge-Ge-Generation. You know, the generation that was determined to do what was right even if all the “grownups” were all against it. Gay marriage (no matter what you call it) is inevitable both as an issue and an institution. And after a few years of fab receptions with all the trimmings: breathtaking arrangements, gorgeous gowns, gracious hospitality, and good food, nobody will give a moth’s ball what you call the damn things. Anybody who wants to be a champion of civil rights should go ahead and stand up. The people left sitting will be forced to assume an anti-civil rights position. That’s how you frame an issue. That’s how you own it. Message to the Kerry and Edwards: When it comes to the tough issues, if you frame it, you tame it. If you let all that reactionary white noise welling up from the heartland frame the issue, you’re doomed. If you let your opponent frame it you’re doubly doomed. Be the pro-happiness, pro-civil rights party. Any opposition to happiness and civil rights is sinister at best. So come on old 60’s-dudes, loosen up those ties and let the sun shine in.

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