Tuesday, March 15, 2005


Beware the Ides...

Actually, there’s a lot more to March than Julius Caesar. It’s National Frozen Foods Month, as well as Colo-Rectal Screening Month. Beckett was right: eat and excrete; those are the poles.

Somewhere in between the two I ponder The Great Moral Issues of the Day, gay marriage among them, just upheld by a progressive judge in California. Prepare for the appeals process! You’d think that Karl Rove and the Log Cabin Republicans cooked that one up: sling around the threat of gay marriage just before the election to watch the Christian Right boil out of the baseboards like maggots in search of tired ham. It’s not that John Kerry offered any leadership or perspective on the issue: he simply checked the box that mirrored Dubya’s own view without calling for a Constitutional amendment.

In Vermont we have listened to those debates more recently. A couple of years ago the State House lawn was filled with earnest folks bracing for Armageddon, should gays be allowed to marry. The legislature eventually settled for civil unions in order to quiet the whining of church goers who expected the p.c. police to storm the sacristy and impose Ted and Bill unions under the rule of law.

Once again the Constitution could have led the way, had anyone been paying attention. The right to marry is a civil right, though the trappings of the ceremony are frequently religious. The extension of civil rights to all people of good will protects members of minorities from what John Stuart Mill referred to as the tyranny of the majority. Churches that want to include weddings to gays as part of their sacramental offerings should be free to do so, as well as churches advancing the idea that gay marriage is a sacrament devoid of the sacred. Those policies and beliefs are none of the state’s business. That the Christian Right is becoming more aggressive in confusing civil and religious issues is a scary tactic. These folks count on ignorance and fear for the spreading of their message.

Agh. As we saw during the election, nobody cares. Say something loudly enough and often enough, it’s true (unless you’re Dan Rather). Tell people often enough that gay marriage presages the downfall of civilization, and exit polls count voters motivated by Moral Issues.

Dubya hopes for similar alchemy regarding Social Security. But that’s for another day.

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