Opinion column: Don’t be fooled

Illustration Illustration

Illustration Illustration

By Jon Monteith

To put it quite bluntly, politicians who support anti-gay legislation make me sick. Their allegiance to the Religious Right (Wrong) is rather disturbing, considering U.S. political culture has always called for a separation of church and state.

For those who aren’t familiar with this concept, let me help you out. You’re free to practice whatever religion you please, on the condition that you don’t force your own personal beliefs down my throat via public policy.

Want to use the Bible to launch a mean-spirited attack on the gay community, whose members already are hurt and confused as they try to accept an attraction they never chose in the first place? Go for it! Just don’t make your radical views the basis for legislation, because religion is a way to guide your own life, not everyone else’s.

It naturally follows that I’m not a big fan of the Bush administration, which led the way in putting together this year’s platform for the Republican Party. Many are arguing this party platform contains some of the harshest anti-civil rights wording in U.S. political history, not only calling for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, but also endorsing legislation which would bar judges from ruling on challenges to laws preventing gay marriage or the recognition of domestic partnerships.

Whoops, there goes judicial review. Apparently, Loving v. Virginia, which in 1967 declared that a ban on interracial marriage was unconstitutional, was just a frivolous Supreme Court case. In fact, why don’t we just let the people decide?

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Small problem: As recently as 1991, the National Opinion Research Center found 66 percent of white Americans polled opposed a close relative marrying a black man. Obviously, public opinion can’t always be trusted to guide public policy, especially when white trash gets to decide what’s best for the rest of us.

It’s time to face the facts. The Republican Party will try to present the Bush-Cheney ticket as moderate and fair-minded during this week’s national convention, showcasing pro-gay rights and pro-choice Republicans such as former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani and Caliornia Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger during prime time coverage.

Giuliani and Schwarzenegger are great politicians, and they’ll try their best to do what they were sent for in the first place – distract the more moderate and independent voters from the fact the Republican Party has just approved an ultra-conservative platform that would make most moderates and independents cringe.

What makes this platform so unappealing to moderate voters? Among other things, it takes a rather harsh stance against domestic partnerships.

A domestic partnership offers gay couples some of the same protections married heterosexual couples receive, but no marriage license is issued. So, say the man or woman you have spent your entire life with happens to be on his or her deathbed in the hospital. With a domestic partnership, you would be allowed visitation rights so you could say your final goodbyes.

It’s no wonder, then, that something as basic as the right to hold your dying partner one last time is supported by a majority of the population. According to an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll conducted in July 2003, 53 percent of respondents supported giving domestic partnership rights to gay couples, with only 34 percent opposed. Yet Bush and Cheney have decided to run on a platform in 2004 endorsing legislation that would block the courts from saying that a ban on domestic partnerships is unconstitutional.

And you call this moderate? Sitting in a hospital waiting room as the love of your life breathes his or her last breath, alone and terrified that you’re not there to hold his or her hand one last time? It’s hard to believe anyone would wish this upon another human being, but unfortunately, that is the nature of the radical Christian Right.

Do Bush and Cheney themselves genuinely support such a cruel policy? I’m sure they don’t (Cheney’s daughter, Mary, is a lesbian). But that’s the whole problem. Bush and Cheney, while running on such an extremist platform, are catering to every demand of the estimated four million evangelicals who sat the 2000 election out. Meanwhile, they’re trying to send an entirely different message to the rest of the Republican Party – it’s a fa‡ade of moderation.

By voting against the Bush-Cheney ticket, you can make sure that the unjust demands of the small but powerful Far Right are no longer driving the most important office in the United States. The average Republican’s views on tolerance and diversity are simply not being represented in the 2004 Republican Party platform, and Bush, who is asking his party for four more years, did nothing courageous or respectable to stop it. In the end, it’s unacceptable, and the Republican Party deserves better.

Jon Monteith is a sophomore in LAS. His column runs Tuesdays. He can be reached at [email protected].