I was not able to watch the President address Congress, something I try to make a point of doing each year when this comes along, but I did get to listen to follow-up excerpts on the radio while driving home from my previous engagement. Also, someone at the Seattle Times with fast fingers has posted a transcript.
The excerpt below, from near the end of the speech, disturbs me. It also gives me a good reason to not vote to re-elect this fall. I was already planning on voting against him, but now I have resolve.
President Bush doesn’t come out and say what he thinks marriage is, but I think that I am not wrong in thinking he doesn’t think two women can be married to one another. He leaves room for those who would not agree with him at the end with “…each individual has dignity and value in God’s sight.” That doesn’t make up for the bit about bringing the Constitution into the game. At least not for me. A constitutional amendment defining marriage in a certain way seems to be asking for trouble.
A strong America must also value the institution of marriage. I believe we should respect individuals as we take a principled stand for one of the most fundamental, enduring institutions of our civilization. Congress has already taken a stand on this issue by passing the Defense of Marriage Act, signed in 1996 by President Clinton. That statute protects marriage under federal law as a union of a man and a woman, and declares that one state may not redefine marriage for other states.
Activist judges, however, have begun redefining marriage by court order, without regard for the will of the people and their elected representatives. On an issue of such great consequence, the people’s voice must be heard. If judges insist on forcing their arbitrary will upon the people, the only alternative left to the people would be the constitutional process. Our nation must defend the sanctity of marriage. (Applause.)
The outcome of this debate is important — and so is the way we conduct it. The same moral tradition that defines marriage also teaches that each individual has dignity and value in God’s sight. (Applause.)
A Constitutional amendment, stating that a certain way of life is the only way of life worth recognizing, by implication also says that any other way of life is not valid and is not owed the same rights and privileges. If you don’t fall in line with that way of life, well sorry. That’s too bad for you.
I guess you only thought you were free.
So your sister wants to marry a woman? Well, she’s free to live with her, love her, and worship in any way they please. They just won’t have the same rights as a real married couple as defined by our beloved Constitution.
But don’t worry too much about them. After all, they still have a two-thirds vote.
A President who will go so far as to tell you how to live so that you can enjoy the “unalienable human rights” that we declared independence so long ago over is not American enough for the job. He doesn’t have to agree with other ways of life, by no means. But he doesn’t get to negate them. That is the price of American freedom and President Bush, it seems, may be unwilling to pay it.