Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a true liberal for a change:
Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.), a prospective 2008 presidential candidate, said yesterday that he thinks bans on same-sex marriages have no place in the nation's laws.
Feingold said in an interview that he was motivated to state his position on one of the most divisive social issues in the country after being asked at a town hall meeting Sunday about a pending amendment to the Wisconsin state constitution to ban same-sex marriages.
Feingold called the amendment "a mean-spirited attempt" to single out gay men and lesbians for discrimination and said he would vote against it. But he went further, announcing that he favors legalizing same-sex marriages.
Personally, I favor getting the government out of the "marriage" business altogether; I'm a Neanderthal who thinks "marriage" is a religious term for enough people that under the First Amendment the gubmint should stay out of it. There should be civil unions for all civil unions (heterosexual or homosexual), which may be consecrated as "marriages" by any priest, pastor, rabbi or other religious authority willing to do so. Of course, the end result would be that every lifelong commitment recognized by law would still be called, colloquially, a "marriage," and every gay couple that wanted their union consecrated -- like every straight couple that wanted their union consecrated -- would easily find a cleric to perform the ceremony. All to the good. But the document that conferred legal rights on the partners would be the "certificate of civil union" and the proceeding divorcing the partners would be called a "dissolution of civil union" in all cases. That's my solution to the conundrum: not to expand the definition of "marriage", but to take it completely out of the government's bailiwick.
But Feingold, bless his soul, is less of a triangulator than I am. He's reached the same result by a bolder path. Civil libertarians should bless this day, when a Democratic politician took a stand on principle for a change!
I'll admit to mixed feelings about this news, because, unlike the censure resolution (which is NOT liberal at all, just courageous and Constitutional), and much as I wish it were otherwise, Feingold's stance on gay marriage will be considered extreme by many moderate Americans, will hurt his prospects in the general election should he win the Democratic nomination, and will turn out the conservative vote against him. I'm afraid it will hurt him electorally, and to be honest about it, he's proved himself enough of a man of principle that at this point, I want him to be Machiavellian enough to win.
But that's crass and pessimistic calculus, and for a later time, if ever. Today I'm just glad to hear one of our own speak from conscience for a change. Bless you, Russ Feingold.
BACK TO VICHYDEMS HOME