About Rationally Speaking
Rationally Speaking is a blog maintained by Prof. Massimo Pigliucci, a philosopher at the City University of New York. The blog reflects the Enlightenment figure Marquis de Condorcet's idea of what a public intellectual (yes, we know, that's such a bad word) ought to be: someone who devotes himself to "the tracking down of prejudices in the hiding places where priests, the schools, the government, and all long-established institutions had gathered and protected them." You're welcome. Please notice that the contents of this blog can be reprinted under the standard Creative Commons license.
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
On the gay marriage amendment
This week, the Senate, encouraged by the self-righteousness and political desperation of George W. Bush, is considering a constitutional ban on gay marriage, which is supposed to protect the “integrity of the family,” as well as to solve a variety of social problems “obviously” caused by the widespread homosexuality that “plagues” our country. This amendment too will restrict civil liberties, and it too is being pushed by conservative and religious ideologues. The difference in this case is that it won't even be necessary to repeal it, because everyone agrees that it doesn't have the votes to pass in the Senate.
Why push it, then? Because it is really a political maneuver that Bush and the Republicans have already tried successfully in 2004. Remember Ohio, the state that tipped the balance in favor of Bush? It was one of the several states that had a gay marriage ban on the ballot during that election, and unscrupulous Republican politicians (that's not yet redundant phrasing, though it's getting there), beginning with Bush, made it a national issue because they knew it would energize their base. What was frustrating at the time was that Bush and Kerry had, in fact, the same position on the issue: they both opposed gay marriage but favored some kind of civil union for gay couples. But the notoriously fickle and unread American public didn't realize that the big issue was no issue at all, and voted in droves to elect Bush for the first true time.
Will the trick work again? Possibly, especially in states that are putting the measure on their ballots, like Alabama, South Dakota, Tennessee and Virginia (hmm, what do these have in common? Oh, right, most of 'em are below the Mason-Dixon line – and they say that the civil war is over, and that it was won by the North!). Then again, the president of the Pew Research Center (an independent public opinion poll organization) says that this time Americans seem to be more worried about the failures in Iraq and the fact that they have to fork $50 at the gas pump. Nothing like the death of your children and being hit in the pocketbook to make you realize how some so-called “moral” issues are anything but. Want to have a real moral issue to chew on? Go see Al Gore's “An Inconvenient Truth” about the scientific understanding and social consequences of global warming. If we don't do anything about that, we won't have time to squabble about minor issues such as the supposed ill effects of gay families on the equally imaginary moral fiber of this country.