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 Bush, Sodomy, and Marriage 

July 31, 2003

Many years ago I heard the first lady of the United States give a speech. I didn’t fully approve of her, and I was determined not to be easily impressed — my usual wary attitude toward the high and mighty.

My resolution lasted about five seconds. Her opening sentence was a one-liner Bob Hope would have envied. It brought down the house. I wish I could remember it now, but it was so topical that it wouldn’t sound as hilarious as it was at the time — an allusion to her embarrassment by a women’s college that had revoked its invitation to have her address it. The wry joke was at her own expense.

The rest of her speech remained at that level. She kept the whole crowd, including the hardened cynics, in the palm of her hand. Though perfectly refined, she had a common touch that made Andy Griffith seem like a stuffy English duke.

That first lady was Barbara Bush, wife of the first President Bush. I remember thinking it was a pity that her husband lacked her gift for handling an audience and speaking wittily. Or even in complete sentences.

After several years’ exposure to the second President Bush, I am driven to the conclusion that oratorical ability is transmitted exclusively through the male line. Judging by his speech, you would never suspect the incumbent president of being descended, even remotely, from Barbara Bush. If the Democrats nominate Hillary Clinton for president in 2004, the Republicans would do well to run Barbara.

[Breaker quote: The Bush press conference]This train of thought was spurred by President Bush’s latest press conference. It was a reminder of why the younger Bush generally avoids situations where he has to think on his feet before the cameras. For a moment you think you’re watching a skit on Saturday Night Live.

The part that got most of the attention was his reply to the question of his views on homosexuality. “I am mindful that we’re all sinners,” he began. “And I caution those who may try to take a speck out of their neighbor’s eye when they’ve got a log in their own. I think it’s very important for our society to respect each individual, to welcome those with good hearts, to be a welcoming country.”

A bit elliptical, like a schoolboy trying to remember the correct answer to an essay question, not quite getting it right, and resorting to desperate bombast; but then he switched to what he saw as the political thrust of the question:

“On the other hand, that does not mean that somebody like me needs to compromise on an issue such as marriage. That’s really where the issue is headed here in Washington. And that is the definition of marriage. I believe in the sanctity of marriage. I believe a marriage is between a man and a woman. And I think we ought to codify that one way or the other. And we’ve got lawyers looking at the best way to do that.”

You can agree with most of this, or even all of it, and still be a little uneasy with the way Bush’s thought process hops from one proposition to another. Just what is he driving at? Is he suggesting that he favors the misguided Republican initiative to write a definition of marriage into the U.S. Constitution?

There is no need to appeal to the sanctity of marriage. Lots of societies have tolerated fornication, sodomy, pederasty, and other things Scripture condemns as sins, while seeing as a purely practical matter that they needed one special institution to make a man responsible for his offspring. That institution existed virtually everywhere long before Christianity made it a sacrament.

The practical reason for marriage is so earthy, and the theological reasons are so controversial, that Bush should have stuck to the former. Until a child is conceived by anal intercourse, it’s absurd to talk about “homosexual marriage.” Even the Greco-Roman homosexuals of antiquity saw no need for it. I’m not too clear on how centaurs were conceived, but they didn’t have marriage between men and horses either.

All these questions never seemed to arise until the U.S. Judiciary started getting into the act. Now anything is possible. Maybe, in fairness, we shouldn’t dismiss President Bush as goofy until we hear what Justice Anthony Kennedy has to say on the subject.

Joseph Sobran

Copyright © 2003 by the Griffin Internet Syndicate,
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