Bush, Sodomy, and Marriage
July 31, 2003
Many years ago I heard the first lady of the United
States give a speech. I didnt fully approve of her, and I was
determined not to be easily impressed my usual wary attitude
toward the high and mighty.
My resolution lasted about five
seconds. Her opening sentence was a one-liner Bob Hope would have envied.
It brought down the house. I wish I could remember it now, but it was so
topical that it wouldnt sound as hilarious as it was at the time
an allusion to her embarrassment by a womens college that
had revoked its invitation to have her address it. The wry joke was at her
The rest of her speech remained
at that level. She kept the whole crowd, including the hardened cynics, in
the palm of her hand. Though perfectly refined, she had a common touch
that made Andy Griffith seem like a stuffy English duke.
That first lady was Barbara
Bush, wife of the first President Bush. I remember thinking it was a pity
that her husband lacked her gift for handling an audience and speaking
wittily. Or even in complete sentences.
After several years
exposure to the second President Bush, I am driven to the conclusion that
oratorical ability is transmitted exclusively through the male line.
Judging by his speech, you would never suspect the incumbent president of
being descended, even remotely, from Barbara Bush. If the Democrats
nominate Hillary Clinton for president in 2004, the Republicans would do
well to run Barbara.
train of thought was spurred by President Bushs latest press
conference. It was a reminder of why the younger Bush generally avoids
situations where he has to think on his feet before the cameras. For a
moment you think youre watching a skit on Saturday Night
The part that got most of the
attention was his reply to the question of his views on homosexuality.
I am mindful that were all sinners, he began.
And I caution those who may try to take a speck out of their
neighbors eye when theyve got a log in their own. I think
its very important for our society to respect each individual, to
welcome those with good hearts, to be a welcoming country.
A bit elliptical, like a schoolboy
trying to remember the correct answer to an essay question, not quite
getting it right, and resorting to desperate bombast; but then he switched
to what he saw as the political thrust of the question:
On the other hand, that
does not mean that somebody like me needs to compromise on an issue
such as marriage. Thats really where the issue is headed here in
Washington. And that is the definition of marriage. I believe in the
sanctity of marriage. I believe a marriage is between a man and a woman.
And I think we ought to codify that one way or the other. And weve
got lawyers looking at the best way to do that.
You can agree with most of this,
or even all of it, and still be a little uneasy with the way Bushs
thought process hops from one proposition to another. Just what is he
driving at? Is he suggesting that he favors the misguided Republican
initiative to write a definition of marriage into the U.S. Constitution?
There is no need to appeal to the
sanctity of marriage. Lots of societies have tolerated fornication, sodomy,
pederasty, and other things Scripture condemns as sins, while seeing as a
purely practical matter that they needed one special institution to make a
man responsible for his offspring. That institution existed virtually
everywhere long before Christianity made it a sacrament.
The practical reason for
marriage is so earthy, and the theological reasons are so controversial,
that Bush should have stuck to the former. Until a child is conceived by
anal intercourse, its absurd to talk about homosexual
marriage. Even the Greco-Roman homosexuals of antiquity saw no
need for it. Im not too clear on how centaurs were conceived, but
they didnt have marriage between men and horses either.
All these questions never seemed
to arise until the U.S. Judiciary started getting into the act. Now anything
is possible. Maybe, in fairness, we shouldnt dismiss President Bush
as goofy until we hear what Justice Anthony Kennedy has to say on the