If you're a politician, it's apparently OK to be a gay-basher and still court the gay vote.
According to the New York Times, Rudy Giuliani echoed this sentiment when he recently commented that he "remained firmly committed to the idea that marriage should be between a man and woman," but that he was "equally committed to protecting the rights of gay men and lesbians." Either I'm having a bad acid flashback, or Giuliani just said he's both for and against gay rights in the same breath.
This is a classic example of public figures trying to have it both ways on the issue of equal rights. Try to imagine how the above statement would read if the topic was inter-racial marriage instead of gay marriage. Now try to imagine someone saying it out loud in front of a microphone.
It is a telling reflection of popular American sentiment that politicians like Giuliani feel they must walk such a fine line between two worlds. Why isn't it OK just to come out and say that marriage is between whatever consenting adults wish it? Why make a cheap grab for gay votes by embracing "domestic partnerships" while in the same breath denying gays and lesbians full legal benefits? (By the way, doesn't the term "domestic partnership" have a rather unflattering ring to it? It almost sounds like something involving household pets.)
Finally, the biggest irony of all is the money that's not being made. Aren't conservatives fond of reminding us of the benefits of market forces? Think of all the companies in the bloated, overpriced wedding industry that stand to make millions of extra dollars a year on gay marriages. Everyone from tailors to florists to caterers to wedding planners to department stores stand to make an absolute killing. Why in the world aren't the owners of these businesses screaming for gay marriage rights? Are they so afraid to rock the boat that they'll let boatloads of money float away? If you think I failed to include legal professionals in the above list, you're wrong. I didn't include them because they stand to make billions, not millions, on gay marriage... and divorce.
So let's take a stroll through the logical pretzel: America has a capitalist economy, and most Americans are pro-business. Most Americans are also against legal gay marriage. There are billions and billions of unearned dollars in the gay marriage market. Therefore being against legal gay marriage is un-American. That's funny! Social conservatives' obsession with sex never ceases to confound me. It seems that they aren't happy unless they have their fingers in everybody else's underpants. This is a control issue, no more, no less. And, hey! This brings us to religion.
The last wrinkle in this trip through the looking glass is God. The reason we are able to enjoy freedom of religion in this country is because our official state religion is no religion. If religious leaders and followers want to refuse gay marriage, let them! That's their prerogative. But the civil rights of American citizens shouldn't be left up to the churches. It should be - and will be - decided by the courts. It is inevitable that gay marriage will be legal in this country one day. Even a conservative Supreme Court will come to this conclusion, because prohibiting gay marriage on religious grounds doesn't pass the Lemon Test. It's only a matter of time.
I'm proud of Giuliani for coming out of the closet on issues like abortion and gun control. I could even see myself voting for a republican presidential nominee for the first time in my life. (My father would be so proud.) Giuliani is quite possibly a real-life version of the West Wing's Arnold Vinick, and it would really be something to see a moderate conservative kick the neo-cons out of the White House. But the time is long overdue for truly equal rights in this country, and it should no longer be acceptable for viable presidential candidates - or any public figures - to continue to support the oppression of people based on who they love because it offends someone's narrow interpretation of the Bible.
Until then, on behalf of the GLBT community I beg our public officials to stop insulting our intelligence by slapping us in the face ("marriage is between a man and a woman") and courting us for votes ("domestic partnerships are OK") at the same time. It's not going to work.