The Electric Commentary

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Bush's Radio Address on the FMA

Here is the text of Bush's radio address about the FMA last Sunday with my comments in italics. For a more scholarly commentary see Andrew Sullivan Here.
Good morning. The United States Senate this past week began an important discussion about the meaning of marriage. Next week they will begin discussing the meaning of life and the week after, the meaning of "Molholland Drive". Senators are considering a constitutional amendment to protect the most fundamental institution aside from my 3 o'clock daily tiger-nap, and to prevent it from being fundamentally redefined. This difficult debate was forced upon our country by a few activist judges and local officials, similar to those activists judges that made it possible for black children and white children to go to school together, who have taken it on themselves to change the meaning of marriage from how its current meaning as exemplified by Britney Spears and J-Lo.
In Massachusetts, four judges on the state's highest court have ordered the issuance of marriage licenses to applicants of the same gender. In San Francisco, city officials issued thousands of marriage licenses to people of the same gender, contrary to the California family code. Lawsuits in several states, including New Jersey, Florida, Nebraska, and Oregon, are also attempting to overturn the traditional definition of marriage by court order.
In 1996, Congress overwhelmingly passed the Defense of Marriage Act, and President Clinton signed it into law. That legislation defines marriage, for purposes of federal law, as a union between a man and a woman, and declares that no state is required to accept another state's definition of marriage. Yet an activist court that strikes down traditional marriage would have little problem striking down the Defense of Marriage Act. Overreaching judges could declare that all marriages recognized in Massachusetts or San Francisco be recognized as marriages everywhere else as long as these overreaching judges are on the United States Supreme Court.
When judges insist on imposing their arbitrary, and by arbitrary I mean based on precedent, equality and fairness, will on the people who have no standing to challenge another person's marriage, the only alternative left to the people, besides using reason and logic, is an amendment to the Constitution--the only law a court cannot overturn.
A constitutional amendment should never be undertaken lightly--yet I am taking it lightly here to defend marriage, our nation has no other choice if we want to be mocked by the rest of the civilized world. A great deal is at stake in this matter. So much that I can not possibly articulate what is at stake. The union of a man and woman in marriage is the most enduring and important human institution. It has never changed and that's why all marriages today are arranged, include multiple wives, all of the same race and mean that the man literally owns the woman. The law can teach respect or disrespect for that institution. Because whether you respect something or disrespect something should be decided entirely by the law. That is what the law is for. If our laws teach that marriage is the sacred commitment of a man and a woman, the basis of an orderly society, and the defining promise of a life, that strengthens the institution of marriage. If they teach about sacred commitments it will be easier to get people to crash planes into building too. If courts create their own arbitrary definition of marriage as a mere legal contract, and contract law is "mere," and cut marriage off from its cultural, religious, and natural roots, then the meaning of marriage is lost, and the institution is weakened due to all of the free thinking that would result.
The Massachusetts court, for example, has called marriage "an evolving paradigm" relying entirely on the fact that it is a changing set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality for the community that shares them. That sends a message to the next generation that marriage has no enduring meaning, and that ages of moral teaching and human experience have nothing to teach us about this institution. After all, learing from experience means never changing. For ages, in every culture, human beings have understood that traditional marriage is critical to the well-being of families except for those cultures that haven't. And because families, which never have gay family members, pass along values, such as hating others because they are different, and shape character, traditional marriage is also critical to the health of society. Our policies should aim to strengthen families, not undermine them. And changing the definition of traditional marriage will undermine the family structure. Again, I can't explain how without resorting to religious mumbo-jumbo. On an issue of this great significance opinions are strong and emotions run deep. All of us have a duty to conduct this discussion with civility and decency toward one another which is why I will not discuss it with gay people. All straight people deserve to have their voices heard even if allowing other people to get married affects them in absolutely no way. And that is exactly the purpose behind the constitutional amendment process--to change thing so they are more consistent with the archaic past. American democracy, not court orders or the people getting married, should decide the future of marriage in America. The process has now begun in the Congress. I urge members of the House and Senate to pass, and send to the states for ratification, an amendment that defines marriage in the United States as a union of a man and woman as husband and wife.

Good Lord


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