[Marxism] Nader & Democrats on Gay Marriage

Yoshie Furuhashi furuhashi.1 at osu.edu
Tue Feb 24 06:01:37 MST 2004

*****   MR. RUSSERT:  Civil rights:  Many gay couples believe that 
they should be allowed to be married.  You heard Governor 
Schwarzenegger say he disagrees with that.  Democrat candidates will 
say they're for civil unions but not gay marriage.  Would Ralph Nader 
support gay marriage?

MR. NADER:  I support equal rights for same-sex couples.  I think 
there's an interesting quote by a lesbian leader in The New York 
Times a few days ago when she said, "It's not a matter of labels, 
it's a matter of equal rights." However, that can occur by adjusting 
state laws or having a federal law.  That is certainly something that 
the gay-lesbian community is going to have to work out.

MR. RUSSERT:  But gays should be allowed to be married if they so 
choose, according to you.

MR. NADER:  Of course.  Love and commitment is not exactly in surplus 
in this country.

<http://msnbc.msn.com/id/4304155/>   *****

*****   Vol. VIII Issue 16 	Monday, February 23, 2004

John Kerry May Support Constitutional Marriage Amendment
Democratic Candidate Strongly Opposes Same-Sex Marriages
Senator says 'It Depends Entirely on (Amendment's) Language'

By Rex Wockner

Leading Democratic presidential contender Senator John Kerry is not 
necessarily opposed to a constitutional amendment to permanently ban 
same-sex marriage, he told National Public Radio's All Things 
Considered February 9.

Kerry was asked: "I'd like to turn to the subject of gay marriage. 
The highest court in your home state of Massachusetts has said that 
same-sex couples do have the right to marry. I know you've said that 
you oppose gay marriage, but would you support a constitutional 
amendment that would define marriage as a heterosexual union?"

He replied: "Well, it depends entirely on the language of whether it 
permits civil union and partnership or not. I'm for civil union. I'm 
for partnership rights.

"I think what ought to condition this debate is not the term marriage 
as much as the rights that people are afforded," Kerry continued.

"Obviously under the Constitution of the United States you need equal 
protection under the law. And I think equal protection means the 
rights that go with it. I think the word marriage kind of gets in the 
way of the whole debate, to be honest with you, because marriage to 
many people is obviously what is sanctified by a church. It's 
sacramental. Or by a synagogue or by a mosque or by whatever 
religious connotation it has. Clearly there's a separation of church 
and state here. ... Marriage is a separate institution. I think 
marriage is under the church, between a man and a woman, and I think 
there's a separate meaning to it."

Kerry said this holds true even for civil marriages that are not 
conducted in a house of worship.

"Even for those that aren't, there's still two meanings," he said. "I 
mean, the state picked up the concept [of marriage] afterwards. It's 
a latecomer to the state."

The day after the NPR interview, Kerry's campaign said he was talking 
about amending Massachusetts' constitution not the U.S. Constitution. 
On February 4, Massachusetts' Supreme Judicial Court mandated that 
the state offer regular marriage to same-sex couples by May 17, and 
some state legislators hope to amend the state constitution to block 
that ruling.

"Senator Kerry opposes a federal constitutional amendment, he has 
always opposed a federal constitutional amendment on gay marriage, 
and if someone listened to an NPR interview and believes otherwise, 
then he was reacting to a different question, a question about a 
Massachusetts amendment, not a federal constitutional amendment," 
Deputy Campaign Manager Steve Elmendorf said in a telephone call to 
this reporter.

Several hours later, the campaign e-mailed this reporter multiple 
copies of a new press release quoting Kerry as saying, "I remain 
firmly opposed to any federal amendment on this issue."

Asked if it wouldn't be odd of Kerry to oppose amending the U.S. 
Constitution but not the Massachusetts Constitution, Elmendorf said: 
"The federal Constitution and the state of Massachusetts Constitution 
are two different constitutions. The state constitutional amendment 
has not been written -- it is a hypothetical -- and we're going to 
wait and see what it is. ... The Constitution of the United States of 
America is entirely different. He does not think the U.S. 
Constitution should be tampered with over an issue like this."

Asked if Kerry thinks the Massachusetts Constitution should be 
tampered with over an issue like this, Elmendorf said, "He has not 
made that decision yet. ... He would consider it."

NPR spokesperson Laura Gross and All Things Considered host Melissa 
Block refused to say whether Block had intended to ask Kerry about 
the U.S. Constitution or the Massachusetts Constitution.

"Melissa Block asked a question and Senator Kerry answered the 
question the way he interpreted it to be asked," Gross said. "That's 
a little confusing. It doesn't matter what she was asking him one way 
or the other. That was the question that was asked, and he answered 

Despite his opposition to same-sex marriage, Kerry was one of only 14 
senators who voted against the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act [DOMA] 
that passed Congress and was signed into law by Bill Clinton.

DOMA states:

"No State, territory, or possession of the United States, or Indian 
tribe, shall be required to give effect to any public act, record, or 
judicial proceeding of any other State, territory, possession, or 
tribe respecting a relationship between persons of the same sex that 
is treated as a marriage under the laws of such other State, 
territory, possession, or tribe, or a right or claim arising from 
such relationship. ... In determining the meaning of any Act of 
Congress, or of any ruling, regulati
on, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and 
agencies of the United States, the word 'marriage' means only a legal 
union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word 
'spouse' refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband 
or a wife."

Kerry told NPR:

"I opposed it [DOMA] because I thought it was gaybashing on the floor 
of the United States Senate. It was one of those examples of 
ideological Republicans trying to drive wedges into the electorate of 
America, and I objected to the Senate being used for that, even as I 
still said at the time, 'I don't personally support [gay] marriage as 
we understand it within the context of religion.'"

On February 4, Kerry voiced his disagreement with the Massachusetts 
ruling which, in addition to mandating legalization of full same-sex 
marriage, forcefully rejected the notion of civil unions as 

"The history of our nation has demonstrated that separate is seldom, 
if ever, equal," the court said.

Kerry stated: "I believe the right answer is civil unions. I oppose 
gay marriage and disagree with the Massachusetts court's decision."

<http://gaytoday.com/events/021104ev.asp>   *****

Cf. <http://www.nyblade.com/2004/2-6/news/national/>.

*****   Indeed, of the nine candidates running for the Democratic 
nomination, six say they do not support gay marriage -- Lieberman, 
Kerry, Gephardt, retired Gen. Wesley Clark of Arkansas, Sen. John 
Edwards of North Carolina and the front-runner, former Gov. Howard 
Dean of Vermont.

Only three are on record supporting full marriage rights for same-sex 
couples -- Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, civil rights activist the 
Rev. Al Sharpton of New York and former Sen. Carole Moseley Braun of 
Illinois. All three are considered long shots for the nomination.

Yoshie Furuhashi
Comparative Studies
Ohio State University
<furuhashi.1 at osu.edu>

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