A last-minute scramble to head off George W. Bush’s homophobic agenda is working, for now. Instead of voting to pass an anti-gay-marriage amendment to the U.S. Constitution on Wednesday, senators will now likely be voting to vote whether to pass that amendment.
Inflamed by Bush’s anti-gay-marriage rhetoric—and hopelessly unable to find anything inspiring to say about the war or the economy—an alliance of cynical political operatives and earnest evangelicals recently threw the amendment crusade into high gear. Their professed objective is to restrict marriage rights to straight couples only, but their secret delight is watching Democratic pols dance the tightrope of being pro–gay rights but also anti–gay marriage.
Indeed, the conservatives’ celebration of “tradition” and “marriage” is very tricky. It seems mild as milk. But as distraught Americans pointed out in e-mails that shot around family and friend networks yesterday, this proposed amendment would be the first in history to deny people rights and consecrate discrimination among the guiding principles of the nation. There is nothing mild about that.
Mainstream folks and progressives were understandably caught off guard this week. The amendment campaign seemed almost too hateful to take seriously, sort of like (but by no means comparable to) the erstwhile effort to ban french fries from the capital. But the recent rush should be fair warning that the movement will not die—at least not until Election Day. As Dubya tells us in the now infamous clip, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me—you can’t get fooled again.”