DATE: 1/22/2004 10:46:00 AM
Bush and Marriage - The most Clintonian part of Bush's speech were his words on the Federal Marriage Amendment. What he said was:
A strong America must also value the institution of marriage. I believe we should respect individuals as we take a principled stand for one of the most fundamental, enduring institutions of our civilization. Congress has already taken a stand on this issue by passing the Defense of Marriage Act, signed in 1996 by President Clinton. That statute protects marriage under federal law as a union of a man and a woman, and declares that one state may not redefine marriage for other states.
Activist judges, however, have begun redefining marriage by court order, without regard for the will of the people and their elected representatives. On an issue of such great consequence, the people's voice must be heard. If judges insist on forcing their arbitrary will upon the people, the only alternative left to the people would be the constitutional process. Our nation must defend the sanctity of marriage.
The outcome of this debate is important -- and so is the way we conduct it. The same moral tradition that defines marriage also teaches that each individual has dignity and value in God's sight.So, does he support it? Oppose it? Support it under certain circumstances? Who knows?
Personally, I hope Bush rejects the arguments of those who want to amend the Constitution. It constantly amazes me that so many conservatives are willing to lay aside their principles to support the changing of a document so vital to our national and political tradition. The beauty of the Constitution is that while it celebrates and defines our shared values, it does not attempt to impose those values on any particular social issue. The Constitution is not a faddish document. The last time idealogues attempted to impose their particular moral beliefs on the country using the Constitution, the attempt failed miserably.
The results of that failure will always be with us, in the forms of the 18th and 21st amendments. Social conservatives should think long and hard about changing such an important document to satisfy such temporal concerns.
Importance of Marriage - The common argument made to support amending the Constitution with the FMA is that it will protect a vital institution. Family and marriage are important to a healthy democracy. Unfortunately, though, they will not be protected by law alone. Conservatives have done little to protect marriage from adultery, pornography, divorce and other attacks on its health. If marriage is so vital, why haven't these enemies of the institution been fought with the same vigor now being used to combat gay marriages?
Until social conservatives who support the FMA can explain why they did nothing for decades while marriage crumbled, they will have little credibility on this issue.