The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Bush on marriage:
Catering to reactionary prejudices

Feb 2, 2004

In his State of the Union Address, George Bush hinted at the possibility that he would back a constitutional amendment blocking gay marriage.

Using carefully coded language, without saying straight out what he was hinting at, Bush called on Americans to "defend the sanctity of marriage," and accused judges of "redefining marriage by court order, without regard for the will of the people and their elected representatives." He said that "the only alternative left to the people would be the constitutional process."

All this was in reference to recent cases such as the one in which the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled there was no legal justification for the state to prevent same-sex marriages.

In fact, Bush is dancing around the question, appearing to promise more than he really did. Raising it in his speech was a way to play up to reactionary religious groups, and to rally them for his election campaign.

The language Bush and others use on this issue is exactly the same kind of coded language that racist politicians used to justify segregation in the South without coming right out and saying it – talking about "states' rights" and "will of the people," for example.

Bush is pandering to a Christian right that pushes reactionary prejudices on the population – people like Jerry Falwell, who said in 1999 for example,"these perverted homosexuals ... absolutely hate everything that you and I and most decent, god-fearing citizens stand for.... Make no mistake. These deviants seek no less than total control and influence in society, politics, our schools and in our exercise of free speech and religious freedom.... If we do not act now, homosexuals will own America!" Falwell went on in 2001 to blame feminists, gays and secularists for the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center.

That's a lot of hate directed toward people who simply want to make a public commitment to live their lives together. If marriage – which is supposedly this commitment – were really so important to leaders of the Christian right, you'd think they would welcome with open arms ANYONE who wanted to make a commitment and have it recognized by a judge or minister.

It certainly doesn't take the stamp of approval of the government or church to make a personal commitment between two people real. And such a stamp of approval certainly doesn't guarantee that a relationship is a good one or will last, as all the cases of spousal abuse and divorce clearly show. Plenty of heterosexuals can already attest to that.

But what business is it of the government's who wants to make such a gesture, or who they want to make the gesture with?

This is nothing but a blatant attempt by Bush to rally his reactionary troops, and to deflect people's attention away from issues that really affect our daily lives. The more he can talk about gay marriage, the less he has to talk about the economy or Iraq.