Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Transcript of Pres. Bush Statement 

The Human Rights Campaign has published a transcript of President Bush's statement backing the constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

His closing summarizes what frustrated me most when I heard the statement. He is attempting to couch this attack on gay men and lesbians who wish equal recognition for our relationships - relationships which we've had to struggle to maintain in the face of daily discrimination and lack of societal support - in a shroud of civility. Well, as long as he promises to be nice about it, I guess it's okay:

"America's a free society which limits the role of government in the lives of our citizens. This commitment of freedom, however, does not require the redefinition of one of our most basic social institutions.

Our government should respect every person and protect the institution of marriage. There is no contradiction between these responsibilities.

We should also conduct this difficult debate in a matter worthy of our country, without bitterness or anger.

In all that lies ahead, let us match strong convictions with kindness and good will and decency.

I realize that gay marriage has become the central theme of recent posts. It's also become one of the dominant issues in the media, and apparently on the President's agenda. Before the heightening of the debate in recent months, I really didn't find it that pressing an issue. Yes, I would like to have the option of marrying The Girl. In fact, I proposed just that at sunset on the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, Italy, at the end of September, 2001. We decided to wait on any sort of committment ceremony until we could afford to "do it up right." We hoped in the back of our minds that when that time came, perhaps it would also be a legally recognized option.

Now, every time I hear another statement expressing the opinion that we are not deserving of entrance into marriage, I am more determined to do just that. I've not heard anything that answers the question of how allowing us to enter into marriage and commit ourselves to mutually love and support one another will do anything but create another visibly stable and loving relationship. My parents yesterday celebrated their 58th wedding anniversary. They are both Republican and veterans of WWII. Two of their six children are gay and in stable, long-term relationships, and they support us. When they attend retiree luncheons out at the Air Force base, and the topic comes around to children, my mother responds, "I have six children, 3 boys, 3 girls, 4 straight, 2 gay."

My brother is godparent to one of my nephews, and I am godmother another. We are out to the entire family, including our eight nieces and nephews and our great-nephew, and have been for our entire adult lives.

The Girl and I, my brother and his partner, and every other gay couple in America are members of families, we are residents of neighborhoods and communities, we are employees, employers, coworkers, colleagues, students, teachers, parishioners, sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles and grandparents. We are America. How, exactly, are we a threat to that society of which we are a part and to that institution to which we would freely commit ourselves?

Posted by Beth Henderson at 12:12 PM