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One Reporter's Opinion: Gay Marriage for Courts, Not Bush

Friday, 27 February 2004 12:00 AM

It is this reporter's opinion that George W. Bush and the Svengali in the White House, Karl Rove, must be vying for the Houdini award. You remember Houdini, master of deception and distraction. Suddenly, in the midst of a political campaign, President Bush seeks a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Now, there's a distraction for you!

The president calls for a constitutional amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, thrusting the gay-marriage issue squarely into the presidential campaign.

And, for the moment, same-sex marriage takes center stage overshadowing the battle against terrorism, the unfinished business in Afghanistan and Iraq, a bloodbath in Haiti, looming troubles in Iran, and the continuing confrontations between Israel and the Palestinians.

Four years ago President Bush favored the state's approach to the issue of gay marriage. Now, as Election Day approaches, he reverses his position and calls for an amendment to the Constitution.

Professor Cass R. Sunstein of the University of Chicago says, "Almost all serious matters of national concern have been handled through ordinary processes, not through constitutional change." The professor concludes, "Bush has proposed a reckless departure from our deepest traditions."

As Bush's popularity in the polls steadily falls, he's taken us on a journey to Mars, then his ill-fated workers plan (which is, in fact, amnesty), his proposal to bring illegals into the U.S. for three years with a possible renewal granting them an additional three years (and their families and the many offspring they're likely to produce - readymade citizens during that six-year period) ... meanwhile shipping our manufacturing base overseas, hemorrhaging of our technology, and approval by a member of the Bush administration that all of this benefits our nation. The result: We at home are losing thousands of jobs.

It's clear - we're being distracted from our problems by the president's proposal for a gay-marriage amendment.

My friends, this does not belong in the political arena. Let the courts decide. It is a religious issue that does not belong on the political agenda.

But the Bush administration realizes that it appeals to Bush's core backers - the religious right - and they see it as an opportunity to pick up those core voters. What possible excuse is there for government intervention in gay marriage other than that?

This is no time to tamper with our Constitution. To place such an amendment - a gay-marriage amendment - alongside the 15th, which gave the right of citizens to vote, setting aside race, color or condition of servitude; or the 19th, giving women the right to vote, that you should not be denied that right because of your sex, is simply unbelievable!

That we should drive this wedge into our political campaign is unconscionable. This alongside amendments to abolish slavery and to ensure women the right to vote? Perhaps all this is a tempest in a teapot.

Having stirred up this hornet's nest with his proposal for an amendment banning gay marriage, the president can step aside and have no role in such a process. In fact, it usually takes an average of 10 to 12 years to pass an amendment.

Here's how it works: The House and Senate each must approve the bill by a two-thirds majority, then send it to the states, requiring approval by three-quarters for passage. There have been 27 amendments, and the 27th took 203 years for passage and that had to do with compensation for the Senate and Congress!

This reporter can only conclude that the current flap is an election year wedge in which Bush, well aware of his dipping popularity, is diverting attention from the administration's record on jobs, health care, education and the environment; and, as this is being written, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan is warning that we are facing dire problems with Social Security. Meanwhile we ship our manufacturing base and technology and jobs overseas as a thousand uninvited illegals pour across our borders each and every 24-hour period.

We are in grave danger of becoming a country of three classes:

As Ronald Brownstein, a national political correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, puts it, "What we are facing is the tendency of each party to appeal to core supporters in a nation sharply polarized along bipartisan lines with their agendas and messages more at their political base than at swing voters."

We don't need a religious war that could split our nation, while at the same time ignoring the critical problems on which the future of our nation depends. Let the states and the courts handle the problem of same-sex marriage and take it off our political agenda.

* * * * * *

The legendary George Putnam is 89 years young and a veteran of 69 years as a reporter, broadcaster and commentator ... and is still going strong.

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It is this reporter's opinion that George W. Bush and the Svengali in the White House, Karl Rove, must be vying for the Houdini award.You remember Houdini, master of deception and distraction.Suddenly, in the midst of a political campaign, President Bush seeks a...
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2004-00-27
Friday, 27 February 2004 12:00 AM
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