“Marriage Not In Danger, But Civil Rights Are ”

Palm Beach Post Editorial

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

As the New Jersey Supreme Court last week ruled for equality, giving gay couples the same civil rights as married couples, President Bush led GOP candidates in further hypocrisy.

At a rally in Indiana, the president predictably called Wednesday's ruling the result of "activist" judges, and insisted that he "will continue to appoint judges who strictly interpret the law."

In fact, New Jersey's justices did follow the state's law, which is how Associate Justice Barry T. Albin concluded for the majority that the "unequal distribution of rights and benefits to committed same-sex partners can no longer be tolerated under our state constitution." The Legislature now must decide whether to call homosexual partnerships marriage or use another term such as civil union.

The ruling correctly acknowledged that the denial of equal rights to gay couples discriminates against them in financial, workplace and personal matters.

Justice Albin also wrote that "there is no rational basis for, on the one hand, giving gays and lesbians full civil rights in their status as individuals, and, on the other, giving them an incomplete set of rights when they follow the inclination of their sexual orientation and enter into committed same-sex relationships."

Yet that's exactly how Republican leaders have treated homosexuals - with two sets of rules, depending on the circumstance. As the country has learned from the Mark Foley scandal, some congressmen who rely on gay employees to plan their campaigns, write legislation and answer to the public, also peddle homophobia on the campaign trail, in their votes and in their stump speeches.

President Bush speaks of the need for traditional marriage between a man and a woman to "be defended." But census numbers - and plain common sense - show homosexuality is no threat to marriage. The number of married couples leading American households has been declining for decades, and this year, became a minority. But the decline is not because of homosexual unions. A census survey released this month found that more than 5 percent of households - an estimated 5.2 million couples - are unmarried opposite-sex partners. Same-sex couples, on the other hand, account for just 776,000 households.

Traditional marriage doesn't need to be "defended" by politicians. The idea that all Americans should enjoy equal rights must be defended from some politicians.


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