Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Leaders Can Oppose Gay Marriage, without Bashing Gays

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Leaders Can Oppose Gay Marriage, without Bashing Gays

Article excerpt

It's hard to say which was more moving: Anthony Kennedy's majority opinion in Romer vs. Evans or the joy in my friend's voice as he cited it over the phone. My friend, a gay man and a Democrat, couldn't quite get over the fact that a conservative judge, a Reagan appointee, had pronounced a gay-bashing amendment passed by Colorado voters illegal. So illegal, Kennedy wrote, that "the amendment seems inexplicable by anything but animus toward the class that it affects."

You don't have to be gay, you need only believe in an inclusive America, to share my friend's rekindled faith in a system that works. But the two most conspicuous leaders of that system wanted to run from, rather than embrace, the court's judgment. Bob Dole greeted the news with no comment. Bill Clinton sent forth his press secretary to describe the ruling tepidly as "appropriate."

The court struck down a gay-bashing law in Colorado, but it cannot protect gay Americans from becoming political fodder in an election year. A desperate Dole is again toying with playing the gay card - despite woes after his campaign returned a contribution from the gay Log Cabin Republicans. Clinton, wary of another gays-in-the-military debacle, is resolutely wimping out.

The vehicle for Dole's mischief is the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, of which he is a lead co-sponsor in the Senate. The bill purports to head off same-sex marriages in the other 49 states should Hawaiian courts recognize them. But the outcome of the Hawaii case is at least two years a way, and this legally dubious bill, which would circumvent the Constitution by statute, isn't going to affect the fate of same-sex marriage. The bill is gratuitous and, for the GOP, hypocritical, says Rich Tafel of Log Cabin, since it calls for the federal government to usurp powers the states have had for two centuries.

The legislation's only real agenda, of course, is to turn same-sex marriage, hardly the year's most pressing issue, into a flashpoint for a polarizing culture war in which gay people become the Willie Hortons of '96. …

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