Conservative Republicans in both Missouri and Kansas express indignation that supporting a constitutional ban on gay marriages—only they don't phrase it like that, they call it "defining" marriage as between a man and woman—as discrimination. They even dredge up the argument that such a charge is "twisted logic" (a description used by MO state Sen. Sarah Steelman in a recent Star op-ed piece) and an insult to civil rights leaders who fought racial discrimination.
Of course, everyone remembers the hundreds of Republican leaders who marched against segregation and unequal treatment back in the 1960s.
Lincoln might have freed the slaves, but it was the Southern Democrats and their Republican allies who kept African Americans in their place for decades. And the growth of the Republican Party, from President Johnson through Bush, has come not because of the party's "enlightened" fiscal policies and "less government" proclamations, but because the Republicans have become the haven for anyone afraid of anything not white, not straight and not given to having Jesus as a reference point for every decision.
Steelman, in her May 21 piece, writes that the proposed SJR 29 "antigay/lesbian marriage constitutional amendment" (my definition doesn't "threaten" individual marriages; it does, however, threaten the institution of marriage.
Well, if the Republicans are going to use racial discrimination as a comparison point, let me substitute "separate but equal" in place of SJR 29: Supporting separate but equal doesn't threaten the education of an individual black child; it does, however, threaten the institution of public education.
In both cases, pure bullshit.
These constitutional amendments being pushed by Republicans and danced around by gutless Democrats are nothing more than discriminatory legislative reactions by people lacking knowledge, compassion and a sense of history concerning the expansion of opportunity and liberty this country has—until recently—put forward.
I believe that once people understand that marriage is a civil affair sanctioned by the government and not a religious rite guaranteed by government, these amendments will gain the despicable recognition now afforded Jim Crow laws and the interment of Japanese Americans during World War II.
Marriage, like Jesus, has become a panacea for the majority of Republicans. Bush wants to spend $300 million a year promoting marriage for the sake of the children. Yet one-third of all impoverished young children live with two parents.
As Steelman writes in her opening, "Marriage is mankind's most enduring covenant"; I'll add that poverty is mankind's most enduring threat against marriage. Marian Wright Edelman of the Children's Defense Fund was right when she stated, "The best thing for marriage is a good job with a decent wage."
But with Steelman and most Republicans, it's easier to discriminate against gays and lesbians than deliver on the promise of economic opportunity. Fighting poverty, to them, is probably best left to faith-based institutions, which, though they get public money, can discriminate in hiring.
I say to gays and lesbians, marry away and marry some more. Unfortunately, I might add, some of those individuals you're marrying are probably "closet" Republicans.
Bruce Rodgers can be contacted at publisher_editEKC@kcactive.com.
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