August 26, 2004

Freedom for Everyone

Dick Cheney the other day said he believed in freedom for everyone, and that the legal aspects of marriage should be determined by the states. Those are the two most clear and correct things I've heard from a Bush administration official since Bush' inauguration. Unfortunately, his personal views apparently hold no sway in the Republican party because the next day a draft of the Republican platform was released, and one of the key planks is to enshrine discrimination into the Constitution while at the same time limiting states' abilities to determine the legal aspects of marriage.

Cheney's response? His loyalty to the president is more important than his views on what is morally correct (and also his loyalty to his own daughter). I can't decide whether this is admirable or terrible.

On the one hand, you can't expect everyone to agree with every policy decision made by their leader, so you would not expect him to switch sides over a single issue. On the other, this is a lightning-rod issue that Bush and other Republicans have pushed to the forefront of our public discussion, one in which the goal is to single out a specific group of Americans and discriminate against them in the very fabric of our society.

But Cheney's personal decisions aside, his statement illuminates a paradox I have never been able to understand. Every Republican I know personally would agree emphatically with the two ideas Cheney espoused: freedom for all, and limitation of federal power by allowing states more autonomy.

Yet Bush's push for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage violates both those tenets. What I don't understand is why Republicans could possibly support something that limits freedom while enlarging the power and control of the federal government.

The only conclusion I can reach is that in this case in particular, supporters of the amendment are being led by simple fear and bigotry--fear of homosexuality and a desire to stamp out that which is feared. Honestly, I can see no other reason than fear and bigotry to want to actively create a specific class of sub-citizens in the United States.

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