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    Maybe I’m not right on everything / But I know that I’m so right about him

    So everyone from IGF to the expected gay blogger types to Virginia Postrel is talking about Vice-President Cheney’s remarks about gay unions the other day. Some people are also reminding us of President Bush’s statements on the only 3.5 seconds of Larry King Live in recent memory that haven’t been devoted to Laci Peterson or Lori Hacking.

    Apparently, there’s some sort of inconsistency somewhere. Personally, I don’t get it.

    “That’s up to states,” Bush told CNN’s Larry King Thursday night. “If they want to provide legal protections for gays, that’s great. That’s fine. But I do not want to change the definition of marriage. I don’t think our country should.”

    When asked about federal benefits for same-sex couples Bush pointed to inheritance taxes which are lower for people who are married Bush said gays should support Republican moves to get of inheritance taxes altogether.

    And here’s Cheney:

    “My general view is that freedom means freedom for everyone. People ought to be free to enter into any kind of relationship they want,” Cheney, 63, said in response to a question at a campaign “town hall” meeting in Davenport, Iowa.

    Cheney, whose daughter Mary is a lesbian and works for the Bush-Cheney campaign, said during the 2000 presidential race that he held homosexual marriage to be a state issue.

    “I made clear four years ago when I ran and this question came up in the debate I had with Joe Lieberman that my view was that that’s appropriately a matter for the states to decide, that that’s how it ought to best be handled,” Cheney said.

    “But the president makes basic policy for the administration. And he’s made it clear that he does in fact support a constitutional amendment on this issue,” he added.

    I’ve spent my whole adult life around people who say whatever’s politically expedient at the time and force you to sift through every statement, flicker of an expression, and chance unstudied gesture to figure out what they really believe. I don’t think I’m too naive to go looking for those hidden meanings when they’re likely to be there.

    But this strikes me as pretty straightforward. Neither Bush nor Cheney talks about not wanting government policy to “encourage” or “condone” homosexuality, which seems to be the favored formulation for those conservatives who don’t want us taken out and shot but are perfectly happy to make our relationships as hard to sustain as possible. As Christians, the President and Vice-President probably think that homosexual behavior is wrong. But there’s nothing to make that necessarily incompatible with thinking American gays who form long-term relationships should be able to take care of each other without interference.

    Of course they’re both treading carefully in political terms. That’s what happens when an issue is made during an election year of something that’s deeply controversial. I wish, based on my beliefs, that Bush hadn’t supported the FMA; furthermore, I don’t think he needed to, given what I can figure out of his own position.

    His deciding that he did need to, though, wasn’t clear evidence of illogic or a cowardly cave-in to the religious right. Every homosexual public figure that’s twitched in the last year, it seems, has invoked “second-class citizenship” to characterize what people who oppose gay marriage want for us, with no middle ground. In that context, I’m almost grateful to Bush and Cheney for being willing to take on the subject in public at all, even if they are watching their backs politically.

    Added on 28 August: Ann Althouse summarizes pretty well, I think, what we can glean from this recent clutch of soundbites about what the candidates think of gay marriage. Basically, even those against the FMA oppose it (of course, we don’t seem to be hearing from Edwards about this).

    Added five minutes later after avoiding impulse to put posthole digger through monitor: Flamin’ Norah! I turned off TrackBack auto-discovery the other day, and when I posted this, no pings went through. Golden. Now I republish and the poltergeists decide they’re going to ping five people. それって何のことだろうッ?!

    3 Responses to “Maybe I’m not right on everything / But I know that I’m so right about him”

    1. Chris says:

      I have no clue what you are saying about this here? Are you saying there’s no difference between Bush and Cheney’s positions? Are you saying the difference is irrelevant?
      You seem to be wanting to apologize for Bush’s support of the FMA as something that is neither necessary or right nor illogical or cowardly. This confuses me.
      Rather than writing that he supported the FMA, you create an apology by writing about “[h]is deciding that he did need to” support it. You create distance between him and his support of the FMA without any justification for having done so.

    2. Sean Kinsell says:

      So now I’m a Bush apologist. Naturally. There couldn’t possibly be any reason, besides partisanship, to point out that other people are windmilling their arms about an inconsistency that I don’t think is there.
      The tendency over the last few years to tar as anti-gay anyone who doesn’t support gay marriage has been, in my opinion, very unwise. I also think it’s unfair. (I like your blog but acknowledge that I haven’t read enough of it to tell whether you fall into that category, BTW.) I’m no Bush fan. (Margaret Thatcher? Now that‘s a statesman.) But if he really believes that the FMA was needed to prevent “activist courts” from “legislating from the bench,” as the formulation goes, it seems to me that there’s still room for him to believe that civil unions and other protections for gays at the state level are a fine idea. And taking his statements at face value, that’s what he thinks. Of course, we should debate whether he’s correct, or whether what he’s talking about is practicable, or whether he may just be playing politics and not really mean it. What works on my last nerve is the way everyone is bowled over at this sudden and inexplicable conflict in his and Cheney’s positions. Give me a break.

    3. Sean Kinsell says:

      I banged that last reply out today before leaving for the office and neglected to mention: Just because I think neither Bush nor Cheney hates queers, that doesn’t mean I’d expect them to take our part in any concrete sense on even mild policies, if it proved not to be politically expedient. If your essential question–I understood what you were literally asking but am not sure what you were really driving at–was whether I’m trying to talk myself into believing that a second Bush presidency would be just great for gays, the answer is no.