Volume 73, Number 44 | March 3 - 9, 2004

Just call it for what it is: ‘The Hate Amendment’

By Tim Gay

Thank you, President Bush, for telling me and my tribe that you think we are so deplorable as to deserve a constitutional amendment in order to protect the sanctity of marriage between a woman and a man.

We could argue that heterosexual marriages are far from sacrosanct, since half of them end in divorce. Still, you didn’t call for a constitutional amendment banning heterosexual adultery and fornication.

Your call for a constitutional amendment to limit one group’s rights has no historical precedence. It is draconian and frightening.

Let’s think of some recent times of trial in the U.S., when public sentiment ran the course of lynching, mayhem and hysteria.

Imagine it is 1954 and President Eisenhower asks for a constitutional amendment that would strip all known socialists and communists of their U.S. citizenship.

Or it is 1968, and Governor George Wallace calls for a constitutional amendment that would overturn the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Love vs. Virginia by banning all marriages between races and ethnic groups.

Or it is 1972, and President Nixon calls for an anti-E.R.A. amendment that would establish “separate but not equal” status for women.

Or even in 1932, imagine a coalition of fundamentalist Christian lawmakers seeking constitutional amendments that would 1) remove the rights of women to vote, 2) close U.S. borders to all immigrants from Central and Eastern Europe, and 3) establish Protestant Christianity as the U.S. religion.

Each of these examples was a hot topic of the day, but no one seriously sought constitutional amendments as a cure.

Nothing since Matthew Shephard has galvanized the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community to such an extent as President Bush’s announcement on Feb. 24. Town hall organizing throughout the U.S. quickly followed his remarks on last Tuesday afternoon. By 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center on W. 13th St. was packed with protesters and organizers.

Even gay Republicans are aghast. I ran into “David” on the bus on Sunday. He told me, “We just don’t understand why President Bush did this. He has the support of the Christian right. This is so hurtful….”

Here’s the consensus from what I’ve heard on the streets of Chelsea:

Bush is doing this to cash in on the San Francisco gay marriage publicity, thereby appeasing his homophobic conservative hate-base.

This is a smokescreen to deflect attention from what is happening or not happening in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This is to take people’s attention from his no-bid contracts for Halliburton.

This is to take the focus off the millions of people who can’t find work or health insurance.

This is to take the attention away from viable Democratic presidential candidates John Kerry and John Edwards.

And finally, everyone agrees:

The L.G.B.T. community and our friends must take control of the situation and label Bush’s proposal for what it is — THE HATE AMENDMENT.

To give credit where credit is deserved, L.G.B.T. activist Charley Beal came up with “The Hate Amendment.” Beal wrote the following, which was distributed via e-mail by journalist/writer Jay Blotcher last week:

“Now that Bush has shown the true depth of his political opportunism with his call for a constitutional amendment…it’s time for us to dominate the issue in the public forum. We can shape the argument with some deft terminology. Calling it “The Anti-Gay Marriage Amendment” is just too unwieldy. It’s a HATE amendment... Say it loudly and let it roll off the tip of your tongue. ‘THE HATE AMENDMENT.’ ”

That’s the challenge we in the L.G.B.T. community are making to those heterosexual “liberals” who have waffled on the gay marriage issue, or have come out in opposition.

Join us, and oppose this Hate Amendment RIGHT NOW. Don’t let Bush’s pandering to the religious right and the fears of misinformed people actually get this amendment rolling. Come out and say NO MORE HATRED.

To set the fires back home in Missouri, I sent the following e-mail to my siblings, both of whom are God-fearing Southern Baptist churchgoers: “Hello Dear Brothers, Where are you two on President Bush’s Hate Amendment? Let me know. Tim”

My older brother responded:

“I haven’t had time to read all about it. I can tell you we saw the ‘Passion of the Christ’ on Ash Wednesday. Outstanding….”

This is going to be a long fight, but we can — and will — win.


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