Sunday, May 08, 2005

The Irrational Attacks on John Kerry

I'd expect it from Rove and Company, but the attacks on John Kerry of the past few days over gay marriage from some liberals are amazing displays of irrationality. The attacks remind me of the similar attempts to portray Kerry as being pro-war, despite Kerry being one of the first Democrats to criticize Bush's policies on Iraq.

Just as the attacks falsely portraying Kerry as being pro-war were based upon misunderstanding of a single vote, the recent attacks are based upon a misinterpretation of a single statement. Kerry stated his opposition to including support of gay marriage in the Massachusett's state party's platform. This statement was quickly twisted to say that Kerry would ban gay marriage. Maybe, or maybe not, but this is nowhere in Kerry's current statement. A statement on what should be included in a party platform is not a statement of support for any given legislation.

Besides, this is nothing new. We've known for quite a long time that Kerry opposes gay marriage as a consequence of his religious background. Despite such religious beliefs, Kerry has a strong record of support for the civil rights of all, including homosexuals.

Kerry supports civil unions as opposed to gay marriage. Some complain that these are not equal, but this would have been answered if they took the effort to examine Kerry's previous statements with regards to civil unions. Kerry has stated that he would oppose any measures which restrict gay marriage which do not include provisions to guarantee the right to civil unions, and that such civil unions must include the full legal rights now provided in marriage. If not provided equal rights to what is now included in marriage, Kerry would not support the any restrictions on gay marriage.

The practical result is that to date Kerry has opposed all proposed bans on gay marriage on both the federal and state level. He has stated that there hypothetically might be an amendment to the state constitution he could support if it had the proper safe guards of rights through civil unions. It seems awfully unfair to attack someone over considering hypothetical legislation when he has supported the pro-gay position on all existing legislation. At very least, wait until there is an actual amendment under consideration, and actually review the amendment, before deciding to attack.

I could understand the anti-intellectuals who dominate the Bush administration taking issue with someone engaging in thought over hypothetical legislation, but I expected better from liberals. The need to think out of the box has been made abundantly clear in recent elections. We must look at some issues a little differently to find ways to keep the Republicans from having a permanent lock on the religious right. People from Jim Wallis to John Kerry are looking at ways to bridge the differences between liberal values and religion. They need our support, even if we disagree on some specifics, so that ultimately the right solutions might be established.

Perhaps the most absurd attack on Kerry over his statement is that he is taking this position in the hopes of political gain. Agree or disagree, I do not have any doubt Kerry is acting out of deep personal conviction, not politics. Kerry showed this during the 2004 campaign. Bill Clinton advised Kerry to support the anti-gay marriage proposals in states where they were on the ballot, advising that this would help him carry these states. Kerry would not violate his principles in this manner. Kerry also opposed Clinton on "don't ask, don't tell" and supported the rights of gay soldiers.

While I disagree with Kerry on gay marriage, I understand his position and find it an area where I can agree to disagree. It is the Republicans, not John Kerry, who are using gay marriage as the wedge issue and seek to restrict civil rights. If we are to win the battle against the reactionary forces from the right, we cannot be distracted by such petty attacks.


Blogger IFK Editor said...

Thanks for sticking up for Kerry on this even if you're not in total agreement on the issue.

I have some thought on it too at my blog: Independents For Kerry

Kerry Has a Right to his Opinion on Gay Marriage in MA

8:00 AM  

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