Thursday, March 23, 2006

Why they want to change constitutions.

Why is it that the theocratically inclined Religious Right, who control the Republican Party, are so intent on constitutional amendments enshrining discrimination against gay and lesbian couples? In state after state, especially in those states where the theological stilted fundamentalists are a majority, the Republicans are pushing through constitutional amendments against marriage rights for gays.

In some states they are actually forbidding private corporations from offering any recognition to same-sex partners of employees in regards to private benefits. So much for their supposed respect for limiting state regulation of business.

The reason given is their usual fantasy of “activist judges.” But is that the real reason? Or are they trying to push through these laws now, as constitutional amendments, to prevent legislative change later?

The fact is that the public has been becoming more liberal on the rights of gay people. The theocrats, who today talk about respecting the views of the majority (which is hardly what the founding fathers advocated) want to make sure that they shackle, as much as possible, the majority of tomorrow.

California voters, a few years ago, passed one of these “pro-family” laws. But today it is questionable whether the same law could be passed. A recent Field Poll there showed that on the marriage question alone the state is relatively split: 43% now support gay marriage, up from 38% in 1997. Opposition dropped from 56% to 51%.

Of course there are other options and when those are considered something very different emerges. The 51% opposition vanishes when civil unions are proposed as an alternative to marriage. Then we find a three way tie with 32% in favor of gay marriage, 32% in favor of civil unions and 32% opposed to either. That means that 2/3rds of the voters support some sort of legal recognition of gay relationships.

The director of the Field Poll said that this shows that, “as time passes, there is a greater acceptance of gay and lesbian rights...” And poll after poll, in state after state, have shown this same trend.

The California state legislature, not long ago, passed a bill to give marriage rights to gay couples. The Republican Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, then vetoed the law. Remember Republicans argued that such laws should be passed by legislatures and not come out of court cases. Well, not this time. Now the top Republican in the state argued that he was vetoing the bill because such measures should be decided by the courts not by legislatures. Apparently Republican principles are very flexible.

The Religious Right talks about radical minorities imposing their will on the majority. But by enshrining bigotry into the state constitutions this radical minority of theocrats is trying to impose their will on future majorities that may not agree with them.

Meanwhile, the state legislature in New Hampshire overwhelmingly voted down an amendment to the state constitution to ban gay marriage there.