Columns » John Brummett

You signed, didn't you?

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It appears that one in 13 or 14 Arkansans signed that petition to qualify a proposed constitutional amendment for the November ballot mandating that a legal marriage must be between a man and a woman. Take out the children and the adults who aren't registered to vote and the Hillcrest section of Little Rock, and the ratio drops so precipitously that the next person you see more than likely signed. I'll tell you one thing: I wouldn't want to live in Possum Flat and be on my way to vote and have to tell Brother Bubba from my Baptist church that I would rather not sign his petition to keep them perverts from a-doin' what they're a-doin'. With the privacy of the voting booth, I'm confident a few hundred people will join me in voting against the amendment in November. If a couple of guys or a couple of women want to try this thing at which I failed at twice before I got right, and at which Tim Hutchinson failed once, and at which Bill Clinton never failed, and at which Britney Spears failed instantly, and which poses every-day challenges even still; and if by doing so these couplings of gays and gals can achieve certain shared entitlements under the law that the rest of us married people get; and if they can do so without bothering me in any way I can possibly imagine, since your business is not my business, and vice versa, then I can think of no rational basis for interjecting constitutional law against them. Even if I thought what they were doing was an abomination in the eyes of the Almighty, I would be averse to saying that my interpretation of holy writ was so superior to theirs that my arrogant judgment of them needed to be written into the state Constitution. I think Dick Cheney is an abomination and that most of what I see on cable television is, too. But tempted though I might be, I would not vote to amend our state Constitution to make him and it illegal within our boundaries. For the life of me, I can't imagine what all these straight people are so afraid of. I guess it's what Janet Huckabee said the other the day - that if we allow gay marriage, all the guys will pair off and leave women as cultural orphans. In her world, nobody loves women. Hers is a fantasy world. This dude will pass overpoweringly - 80 percent, I suspect - and become part of our state Constitution, just as that '50s era amendment making racial segregation the law of Arkansas passed. We voted narrowly in 1990 to repeal it. Narrowly. In 1990. To repeal. Racial segregation. As the constitutional law of our state. Vic Snyder was a state senator in 1990, and he joined Lloyd George of Danville, a state representative then, in getting the legislature to take the risk of referring to voters the opportunity to repeal South African apartheid. Now he's a congressman facing a Religious Right challenge to his re-election and the injection of this marriage thing as a wedge issue, and confronting as well his stated opposition to George W. Bush's cynical proposed federal constitutional amendment on the basis that such things ought to be left to the states. Snyder will need to negotiate the familiar and delicate path of those of left-of-center views who are brave enough to enter the Southern electoral process. He will say that he believes the issue should be left to the states and that he supports the right of the state's people to deal with it as they choose, and that the congressional race is about federal issues. His opponent, Marvin Parks, will crow that he signed the petition and that he'll vote for the amendment and he'll challenge Snyder on whether he signed and how he'll vote. After a few decades, we will repeal this amendment by a narrow majority, leaving only Mississippi with such a law.

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