Thursday, July 10, 2003

Santorumized, For Your Protection 

The capo dell'unione of the Republican Party has decided to bring his case against gay marriage to the American people in the form of an Op-Ed for USA Today. Rick Santorum, Senator from Pennsylvania, who in a recent interview with the AP decided to eviscerate privacy rights for all Americans, has again taken up the charge for his favorite political cause, marriage as defined by Rick Santorum.

That he views marriage as reserved for heteros because "it's only common sense" is telling. To the best of my memory, its the first time I've ever seen "common sense" and "marriage" used in a sentence that doesn't imply the former is sorely lacking.

Santorum's editorial is a painful reminder that it doesn't take a particularly bright bulb to light up the halls of Congress. He backtracks on his previous position that a constitutional right of privacy is non-existent. He holds that privacy in sexual matters had been the right of married couples until Texas v. Lawrence somehow tore it to shreds. Speaking for the unmarried (and every once in a blue moon) sexually active heterosexual community, I'd like the government to remain an unwelcome and illegal intrusion into my amorous affairs.

He goes on to cite Republican Majority Leader Bill Frist's suck-up to his Bible Belt constituents, a plea to Americans to defend the institution of marriage by supporting a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, as a measure that has his full support. This is so absurd it defies laughter, and God knows I'd really like to chuckle at this kind of boneheaded political grandstanding rather than cry over an encroaching dystopia fueled by the Christian Right. No comment from either of these two on this marriage, a wholesome hetero affair.

For this career politician, father of six and ambitious torch bearer of the right, marriage between a man and a women is the lynchpin of civilization, an institution under fire from the forces of evil he believes will "confuse future generations of Americans even more about the role and importance of an institution that is so critical to the stability of our country?" I don't know about you , but if the right of a two gays to have a legally binding marriage affording them the same legal protection of a heterosexual marriage is going to confuse a hetero couple, should we be issuing a marriage license to a man and woman so slow on the uptake? How do these folks handle a trip to Baskin-Robbins? "31 flavors!! I'm so confused!! Get me some ritalin"

Of course, says Senator Rick, they're hetero--let them breed.

If he weren't a politician, Santorum might have a reason to join the rest of us in reality. Marriage in the US is a legal construct protecting property rights of the participants and their offspring. It is not a legal obligation to love, honor, cherish or do a good job raising your kids, otherwise there would be fewer divorce lawyers and a boat load of parents joining their spawn in prison. His argument (if you want to call it that) is that further deterioration of the institution will further the very social ills (youth crime, youth violence, child poverty) associated with divorce and single parent families.

Where is the evidence that gay marriage will erode heterosexual marriage? Guess what? There is none. He is making use of an age old rhetorical device that equates means with objectives. This kind of logic is inherently bogus in this case because the strength or weakness of a marriage is contingent on the human heart and will. No voluntary institution is capable of providing what its participants do not believe in or hold dear. Just the opposite, when a common objective is agreed to by two individuals, they seek the protection and privileges afforded by that institution to support their mutual objectives.

But Santorum doesn't want to deal with the social ills that actually cause marriages to fall apart or not happen in the first place; lack of economic opportunity for parents, drug use, alcoholism, materialism. That would be too difficult, too hard to think through and far more complicated than Rick or his constituents could bear. This is America; where there is an over the counter cure for every ailment and a you're just a shopping spree away from fulfillment. Rick wants to take the easy way out, find a bogeyman that he can use to scare the bejeezus out of his conservative constituents, slay the creature and bring the universe into order once more and solidify his bona fides with his patrons on the Christian Right.

This is a crass and immoral political ploy driven by the ambition of a crass and immoral political hack; nothing new, really. Just another reminder that freedom is under constant attack from within, as well as without.

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