President Bush said today that while he believed Americans should treat gays in a welcoming and respectful manner, he remained firmly opposed to gay marriages and that administration lawyers were working to ensure that the term 'marriage' would cover only unions between men and women.Now, personally, I believe this is going to end up a judicial matter, because gay couples will be able to go up to Canada to get married, and the question of whether or not that applies in the U.S. will inevitably come before the Supreme Court no matter what laws are passed in the meantime.
At a Rose Garden news conference today, Mr. Bush used a general question from a reporter about his views on homosexuality to plunge into the hotly debated issue of gay marriage and offer reassuring words to many supporters. His response contained his trademark political mix of an expression of tolerance accompanied by a firm conservative position on the actual policy.
(I personally think that the SC will come down in favor of some sort of civil union arrangement, which is why there's this frantic effort to amend the constitution.)
Still, what really interests me is a seemingly unrelated question: is this a shot across the bow at Dean? At this point, Rove and Co. have to be taking him seriously whether they want to campaign against him or not, and the Bush admin may be trying to start framing the campaign as pro-gay marriage vs. anti-gay marriage, as that's the one issue where they must be pretty confident that they will maintain majority support vs. Dean. (The war is likely, but not certain.) If they don't want to run against Dean, this makes even more sense, because other Dems could take a shot at Dean's electability based on this issue.
(They might even have a point; apparently the Liberal Party of Canada has recieved bitter, nearly frothing letters and phone calls about the issue. This is especially significant as Canadians are much more laid back about these sorts of issues than Americans are, due to relative levels of religiousness.)
On the other hand, this may do wonders for Dean's financial situation. Advertisers have long acknowledged the buying power of gay and lesbian couples; it is that buying power that is one of the chief reasons that gays and lesbians are being courted fairly aggressively by corporate America and why they've gained the societal acceptance they have. They tend to have disproportionate disposable income, and many are (by necessity) political. Dean could parlay this civil union issue into stacks of campaign funding from both individuals and organizations; and if it's handled right (ie, largely though online individual donations), Dean could get the money without having to go into great detail as to why, so as to avoid a backlash.
This might not be a goal of the Dean campaign at all, of course; still there's one thing for sure: log cabin Republicans are an endangered species: and the sooner the Dems realize that, the sooner they can begin to take advantage of it. It's somewhat unfortunate, because one's sexuality should not even be an issue politically. In this United States, however, it's unavoidable.
Edit: I missed something about this, namely a statement by, well, the president of the Log Cabin Republicans:
Patrick Guerriero, the executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans, a group of gay Republican backers, said that Mr. Bush's remarks were "troubling to us," adding, "It seems like it's a political card being played for the radical right on a national stage." He said the 1996 act should have answered all of the conservatives' concerns. Mr. Guerriero said that Mr. Bush should take note that using such cultural war issues as homosexuality had failed in the past, notably for the re-election bid of the president's father.Interesting... I had forgotten about that part of the Bush-the-Elder campaign. It makes sense, though, and would make even more sense now; a lot of Bush's less vocal support comes from people who aren't particularly cozy with social conservatism, and they are precisely the audience that would be most likely to bolt to a Democratic candidate if Bush started sounding like Falwell or Bennett.
That raises a question.. has anybody seen polling that cross-referenced attitudes on gay tolerance and marriage with the strengh of partisan identification? I'm curious to see how things may turn out.