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Settling the far-left conspiracy against marriage

Gary Caruso | Friday, February 13, 2004

Today, Friday the Thirteenth, is unlucky for the American principle of equality, as the Massachusetts state legislature marches on with zeal to “defend” the i nstitution of marriage from its state supreme court. This political non issue, however, nicely fits the president’s political agenda. It will be tragic and pathetic if Americans allow such acrimony to control the political landscape this year.When President Clinton, a man for whom I worked, signed the Defense of Marriage Act conceived by congressional Republicans, he caved on a tough political issue. Deep down inside, all of us knew it was a political stunt. Yet Clinton wanted to avoid the political baggage he suffered early in his term on the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. He refused to stand up for principle and surrendered the issue to its opponents.Democrats are now skirting the issue again in an effort to neutralize it in the election. Today’s atmosphere is reminiscent of the politically-charged fervor that steamrolled our rush to war against Iraq. Regardless of the outcome of this year’s political efforts, many who avoid the issue know its irrelevance and how fundamentally wrong it is in this nation dedicated to equality and freedom. The issue is as outrageous as suggesting that one way streets threaten our system of commerce.Last October, President Bush proclaimed a week as “Defense of Marriage Week” and began his steady schedule to wink and nod at his self-righteous, intolerant religious base. Bush set the stage to energize the fundraising efforts of right-wing religious leaders like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, who see themselves as political beacons of conservative light in the mucky sea of liberalism. They preach that their specific method of worship and strict belief of being born again on earth is the only path toward salvation. They are the types who cannot fathom the notion that God may have actually used the evolutionary process to create our world. These closed-minded types do not generally care for Catholicism but politically welcome Catholics to join their anti-abortion efforts. They definitely ignore our “wrong” Catholic version Bible, our belief in a Virgin Mother and our “worship” of people we deem as saints. In short, they are only tolerant when others think and act as they do.Tomorrow, as President Bush winks and nods again to the NASCAR folks at the Daytona 500 race, he may feel smug at a social wedge issue for his campaign this year. But we liberals are secretly formulating our counter punch that embraces the notorious Bouvier sisters, Selma and Patty, as role models for the far-left’s alternative solution. What better example than the sisters who are regular characters on the weekly television comedy “The Simpsons?” After all, our solution is based on a television series which places its characters in a church setting more than any program on television.Supporters of the alternative, like their conservative counterparts, have also chosen to ignore the fact that no religion will be forced to marry same-sex partners. Rather, this far-left approach attempts to appeal to the secular qualities that Selma and Patty’s casual cigarette usage, two divorces, 14-year stature as Emmy winners and celebrity icons has brought into American homes. Focus groups found their television roles as public servants at the motor vehicles office blurs with viewers who place patriotism above any insignificant civil liberty.The far-left proposal is simple and neat to administer. It bestows the identical rights afforded to a married couple upon anyone who chooses to live together … legalities absent any religious connection or recognition. Patty and Selma, as sisters, currently share survivorship rights, but cannot share health insurance, pensions or a host of other rights that a married couple enjoys. The so-called “Selma and Patty Benchmark” is based on a person’s dwelling arrangement similar to common law marriage precedents.Whether a person resides with a mother or sister, with a boyfriend or girlfriend, or a complete stranger of either sex, that person could share health insurance portability and other legal rights. That person’s life would be legally equal to a married couple or common law couples without diminishing traditional institutions or violating the sanctity of marriageThis alternative, based on the imaginary lives of these two professed “sisters,” dramatically standardizes and simplifies a better quality of life for Americans through any number of combinations of living arrangements devoid of any religious infringements. The nation can turn from this distraction to more important election year issues such as war and peace, life and death, or the decline of American prestige throughout the world. Overall, Americans are big winners leaving the fundraising efforts of Falwell and Robertson as big losers.Now that’s what anyone would call a far-left conspiracy.

Gary Caruso served as a public and legislative affairs director in President Clinton’s administration. His column appears every other Friday. He can be contacted at hottline@aol.com.The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.