Saturday, December 20, 2003


New poll data about support for a constitutional amendment outlawing gay marriage (and lots of other things, potentially, but that's for another post) has the Kevin Drums of the world concerned about what it means for Democrats.

There's something that Democrats need to realize - we're going to be the party of those icky gay people no matter what we do. The Dems have three basic choices. One, they can fall all over each other to condemn the evils of gays and gay marriage more loudly than the Republicans. Two, they can take an incomprehensibly muddled position and hope the issue just goes away. And, three, they can take a strong and unequivocal pro gay rights position.

The first choice does nothing for them except repel voters. The second ensures that the issue will be brought up constantly. The third is the only way out.

As we all know, Democrats are the party of homosexuality, adultery, and divorce. They're also soft on crime and they hate the military. For some of these issues you can try and out-Republican the Republicans - propose giant military budgets, police budgets, minimum sentences, etc... - to neutralize that perception. There is nothing Democrats can do to recast themselves as they anti-gay party without completely abandoning their place as the party of Civil Rights. Besides, I don't think that even putting execution for homosexuality into the Dem platform would be enough to change the perception.

I'm still with those who think that if the Democrats handle this correctly it's a net loser for Republicans. But, to do so they have to stop being on the defense. As with everything else. They can start by bring up the words of Dick Cheney every time Tim Russert brings it up:

The fact of the matter is we live in a free society, and freedom means freedom for everybody. We don't get to choose, and shouldn't be able to choose and say, "You get to live free, but you don't." And I think that means that people should be free to enter into any kind of relationship they want to enter into. It's really no one else's business in terms of trying to regulate or prohibit behavior in that regard.

The next step, then, of course, is the question you ask of whether or not there ought to be some kind of official sanction, if you will, of the relationship, or if these relationships should be treated the same way a conventional marriage is. That's a tougher problem. That's not a slam dunk.

I think the fact of the matter, of course, is that matter is regulated by the states. I think different states are likely to come to different conclusions, and that's appropriate. I don't think there should necessarily be a federal policy in this area.

I try to be open-minded about it as much as I can, and tolerant of those relationships. And like Joe, I also wrestle with the extent to which there ought to be legal sanction of those relationships. I think we ought to do everything we can to tolerate and accommodate whatever kind of relationships people want to enter into.