Bob Franken

CPAC and Gays

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Ah, CPAC: So little space, so much nastiness to write about after the Conservative Political Action Conference annual gathering near Washington. Let’s focus on Marco Rubio, who is one of the hard right’s flavors of the month.
In his speech, he tried to justify gay-bashing. “Just because,” he said, “I believe that states should have the right to define marriage in a traditional way does not make me a bigot.” First of all, hiding behind states’ rights was the same subterfuge segregationists used to justify their bigotry, which the dictionary defines as “stubborn and complete intolerance.” One could say that denying a group of Americans the same legal rights as others fits the intolerance bill. That would include gays, Sen. Rubio.
This is such a personal matter. Just ask another GOP senator, Ohio’s Rob Portman, who has just announced he’s abandoned his opposition after his son told him he was gay. That didn’t sway his fellow Ohioan, House Speaker John Boehner, at all. Boehner told ABC that even if one of his children came out, he wouldn’t change his mind: “It’s what I believe; it’s what my church teaches me.”
Remember the Loving ruling? What more appropriate name could there be for a Supreme Court decision about the matrimonial rights of a mixed-race couple? It was actually Loving V. Virginia, Richard and Mildred Loving’s challenge against state prohibitions. In 1967, in a landmark case, the Supremes unanimously ruled, “Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.” Substitute “same sex,” and that’s all that should be needed. Did I mention it was unanimous?
The justices rejected the assertions that allowing blacks and whites to wed would undermine family tradition and violate religious doctrine. That last one is the exact same rationale we get today from Speaker Boehner.
Forty-six years after Loving, as the high court gets ready to hear arguments in two same-sex-marriage cases, the discussion is, in fact, eerily similar, with the added point that only male-female couples can procreate. I don’t know how to break this to you, folks, but you don’t need marriage for that. Besides, one would hope our thinking would have risen above such primal considerations, that we were beyond the amoeba stage. Apparently not.

Even if judicial reason prevails , it is highly unlikely that the decision will be unanimous. For kicks imagine if a majority supports gay marriage. Envision the incredible entertainment value of a dissent by Justice Antonin Scalia. Pardon the legal terminology, but he would go bonkers.
Whatever happens, maybe the right wing can do the smart thing and leave the homophobic bigots behind at the 2014 conservatives’ conference. After all, next year is an election year. The Republicans keep saying they want to change their brand. They’re trying to stay relevant after a presidential election in which Americans rejected their oppressive policies.
Another of their new heroes is Sen. Rand Paul, who made his own speech calling for his “stale and moss-covered” party to change its attitudes. “The new GOP,” he continued, “will need to embrace liberty in both the economic and personal sphere.” Well, there’s certainly nothing in the sphere that’s more personal than romance and the one you choose and how you choose to do it. Even if the Supreme Court perversely upholds the anti-gay laws, astute politicians might want to change them legislatively and take the offensive against the Dark Ages diehards.
What better way keep up with social progress than to embrace gay marriage, which is now accepted by a growing majority of Americans? Imagine how dramatic it would be if instead of one more anti-Obama speech, time was set aside at CPAC for a full-fledged same-sex wedding ceremony. Maybe Justice Scalia can administer the vows. And perhaps the best man could be Marco Rubio.

© 2013 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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