Wednesday, July 30, 2003
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
Politics On A Banana Peel: Bye-Bye PAM, Hello FMA?

Something is very wrong when agencies of the federal government try to set up a futures-market betting parlor for the purpose of wagering on terrorist attacks, deaths of U.S. soldiers on foreign soil and political assasinations [the now-dead PAM]. I'm glad that idea was given the bum's rush post haste. I reserved comment on this very sick, Strangelovian concept until today, hoping beyond hope that it was all some sort of hoax. Unfortunately, it wasn't.

How do you tell the families of military men and women lost in combat, or "keeping the peace," that their own government is running a dead-pool on their loved one's lives? How do you justify a government-sponsored casino where the payoffs are covered in blood?

There's also something else on the legal horizon I think we should watch out for - President Bush's proposed Federal Marriage Amendment, which would codify in the United State Constitution a ban on recognition of same-sex unions. The proposed amendment would define marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

Think about it: does this fact need to be set in the U.S. Constitution? Something tells me this piece of legislation is being skidded in on a banana peel for two reasons - Ontario and British Columbia's recent decison to allow gay marriages [our neighbors...good heavens!], and the Supreme Court's recent reversal of anti-sodomy laws.

Some say, "allowing same-sex couples to marry would take away from the rights of heterosexual couples."

How would someday allowing gay couples to marry - under Federal recognition - take away any rights from heterosexual spouses? I can't see any way that it would, any more than allowing women or African-Americans to vote took away from men's or whites' voting rights.

"It would take away the sanctity of heterosexual marriage."

The fact is, marriage in the United States is a civil matter, not a Church matter. Owing to the wise separation of Church and State our nation was founded upon, we [for the most part] don't make laws based on theological arguments. I won't get into discussions of religion or morality here, because that's just an open invitation to a endless flamefest...it certainly doesn't change people's minds from one side to the other, and whether you're for or against gay marriage, your opinions are probably very strongly felt; it's just that kind of hot-button issue.

But consider this: the proposal of the Federal Marriage Amendment should be of profound interest to Americans - of any affectional persuasion - who value civil rights, because it would mark the first time in history that an American Constitutional amendment would be enacted to take away rights from a specific group of people. The first time ever.

That, in my opinion, goes very much against the grain of the foundation of our nation's values.

It could happen. After all, we did have the Prohibition as a sort of precedent...which tells me that given enough fanatic groundswell, almost any idea, no matter how ill-concieved, stands a chance of becoming law. We can't just ignore a threat and say, "it would never happen." There's a little something we can do to help this amendment not pass. We can write our representatives in Washington; snail mail and phone calls still seem to get the most attention, but you can send a fax to Washington using the Human Rights Campaign website.