George and Mary


The president tells the daughter of his veep something he couldn't tell his base:

"My only ask was that if his daughter doubted my tolerance to her orientation that I would hope that he would help make it clear to Mary that this is a--I was just worried about--the reason I'd federalized the issue is because I was worried about the courts' defining the issue and that we'd end up with de facto marriage that was not traditionally defined, I guess is the best way to put it."

Bush has never, to the best of my knowledge, used the word "orientation" publicly to describe gay people in prepared remarks. (If you can prove me wrong, please do.) His base would revolt. I also wonder if anyone actually told Bush that there was no precedent in U.S. law or history for the marriage laws of one state being forcibly exported elsewhere, and that any doubts he might have had on that score were allayed by the Defense of Marriage Act. And the simple point that if his nightmare occurred, then would be a good moment to ponder a response also does not seem to have occurred to him. He had an election to win, I guess.

Notice also how he doesn't have the courage to confront Mary Cheney directly.

He consulted no openly gay people or couples before endorsing our permanent second-class status in the constitution itself. He was willing to consign a whole class of people as forever beneath equal citizenship without even talking to one of us. His main advisers were Richard John Neuhaus and Robert P. George - two passionately anti-gay theocons. He knew what Rove instructed was wrong. But that makes it worse, not better.

Oddly, I don't think his presidency will be seen by historians as a major obstacle to gay progress. The power of this social movement is far bigger than one president. Yes, he and his acolytes managed to strip gay couples in many states of the promise of equality for a very long time. But they couldn't amend the constitution to stigmatize us; and they couldn't stop our equality being achieved in one state, at least, with more on the verge, and across the rest of the civilized world. Bush also united the gay community more profoundly than at any time in my adulthood. He brought us all together - left and right - against his policies. That was an achievement. Whatever oxygen gay Republicans had before he came long he extinguished.

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