Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Right wing tries to frame anti-gay

proposal as 'Defense of Marriage'

The proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage in Wisconsin will soon have a new name, unless opponents of the amendment speak up soon -- and loudly.

Until now, the proposal, headed for a statewide referendum in November, has been referred to as the gay marriage amendment in news stories.

But in a new WisPolitics interview, Julaine Appling, executive director of the Family Research Institute of Wisconsin, calls it the "Defense of Marriage" amendment. And WisPolitics plays right along. Another supporter of the amendment picked up the same language today.

It's a technique the right wing has perfected and one the left hasn't learned.

When the Bush administration wants to ease restrictions on air pollution, they call it the "Clear Skies" initiative.

When industry and their Republican allies want to take away the right of seriously damaged lead poisoning victims to sue the companies who made the poison, they call their bill the Job Protection Act.

The Defense of Marriage language isn't something Appling just dreamed up.

The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was passed by Congress and signed into law in 1996. It, like the proposed constitutional amendment in Wisconsin, was an unnecessary, over-the-top, slap in the face to the nation's gay population.

The law doesn't bar states from legalizing gay marriages, but says that one state isn't obligated to recognize a gay marriage performed in another state. At the time, a legal case in Hawaii had the right wing alarmed and afraid that gay marriage might be legalized there.

Shame for passage is bipartisan. It passed overwhelmingly -- even Tom Barrett, then a Congressman, voted for it -- and President Clinton signed it into law.

Gay rights advocates, who are organizing a strong campaign against the amendment, should make certain they are not outfoxed by this stolen language.

"Framing" is the term that's now in vogue for defining issues. If opponents of the amendment allow the right to define it as a "Defense of Marriage Amendment," it will make the already uphill battle against passage even more difficult.

Opponents need to call the amendment what it really is -- an unnecessary, discriminatory amendment intended to capitalize on anti-gay sentiment and fuel it for political purposes in a mean-spirited way.

That's a little long for sloganeering. It needs a short name.

The Discrimination Against Gays Amendment (DAGA)?

Or maybe the Preserve the Republican Majority Amendment (PRMA?)

Actually, there is no need for another name besides the gay marriage amendment, if the news media are smart enough not to be duped by whatever name the right wing attaches to this piece of hateful political opportunism. The generic description should suffice.

But opponents shouldn't count on that. The news media are easily led by the nose. If the right wing says this is the "Save the Children" amendment, they'll probably call it that.

Opponents should speak up forcefully to let the media and the public know that the "defense of marriage" is not what this amendment is about.

For example, here's one exchange in the WisPol interview with Greg Bump:

Bump: Do you think this amendment - at all - would infringe on the civil rights of gays?

Appling: Well, first of all, they have the same civil rights as I have, same civil rights as you have, the same civil rights that every other citizen of the state has. The right for them to marry has never been there, because they're choosing not to meet the criteria of the law because our law says, not in clear enough terms but by current interpretation, you need to be of the opposite sex and the right age and all of that. So, they haven't, just like I as a single person, don't have the hospital visitation rights, the inheritance law rights, all those benefits. I don't have those any more than they do as a same-sex couple. So, it's hard for me to understand how we are denying rights that they never had. It seems to me that to deny someone (rights) you have to have had them at some point. But there are legal means very readily available for people to get the benefits that they think they want with inheritance and hospital visitation and real estate transactions and all of that.


At 12:48 PM, Blogger krshorewood said...

I would like to ask Appling if her marriage is so crappy that somehow she has to pin it on gays.

I know her and her ilk regarding the movie Brokeback Mountain she it as a recruiting device. After seeing it and the heartbreak suffered by the two lead characters, I don't think many would say, "where do it sign up?"

But on the other had who would accuse the "Family Research Institute" (what do they research when their minds are made up already) of rationality.

At 7:56 PM, Blogger Rebecca said...

I definitely think we need to step up and out and make sure that people are not being dupped by the simplified and misleading language that Appling and her ilk want to use.

I'd be satisfied with calling it the Hate Amendment or the Theocracy Now amendment.

There's other ways she and her ilk mislead on this issue. I talk about that in on of the posts today at the It's Only Civil blog. So I won't take up the space here.

It's maddening.

Thanks for the post!

At 2:02 PM, Blogger Joe Klein said...

“Equal protection under the law” is the motto chiseled on the Supreme Court building. Perhaps a sign of Providential displeasure with our collective hypocrisy, a chunk of that edifice recently fell.

The proponents for banning same sex unions are using proof by intimidation http://www.c3.lanl.gov/mega-math/gloss/math/intimpf.html

They fail on logical grounds.

Section 1 of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution states:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. -- US Constitution

From the standpoint of the law, a man or a woman is treated as a citizen. Hence from the standpoint of the law the relationship is one of equity. (m=man, w=woman, c=citizen) So if m=c and w=c the m=w. So it follows the m+w = m+m = w+w.

“In other words, the laws of a state must treat an individual in the same manner as others in similar conditions and circumstances. A violation would occur, for example, if a state prohibited an individual from entering into an employment contract because he or she was a member of a particular race. The equal protection clause is not intended to provide "equality" among individuals or classes but only "equal application" of the laws. The result, therefore, of a law is not relevant so long as there is no discrimination in its application. By denying states the ability to discriminate, the equal protection clause of the Constitution is crucial to the protection of civil rights.

“Generally, the question of whether the equal protection clause has been violated arises when a state grants a particular class of individuals the right to engage in activity yet denies other individuals the same right.”


The proponents for banning same sex unions have classified individual citizens by sexual preference. The would deny a class of citizens the right to enter into an economic and social union that available to other individuals. They cloth this abridgment of civil rights in emotional words such as sanctity.

Marriage when conducted by the state in nothing more than a contract between two citizens. No state contract can have sanctity because the state does not derive its power from God, rather, it derives power from the governed. Sanctity is defined in Webster’s as holiness of life and character : GODLINESS.

A “marriage license” is nothing more and nothing less than a civil contract between two citizens.

It is religion and belief that gives sanctity to marriage. In no way can the state alter, nor interfere with, the views of the faith communities. The civil union of the state may not, and can not, be equated with a religious ceremony.

Creating discriminatory contracts based upon the classification of groups violates the fundamental principals of our Republic. It was Radical Republicans that set the words “equal protection of the laws” into the highest law of our land; how ironic that todays “Radical Republicans” seek to undermine the same Constitution principal made dear by the blood shed upon the Civil War’s fields of honor.

The proposals for outlawing civil contracts between citizens based on sex are unconstitutional and violate the fundamental American principal of equality under the law.


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