The Vatican and the GOP unite for one last show!

During an early-summer press conference, George W. Bush pointed out that he believes “marriage is between a man and a woman. And I think we ought to codify that.” And so the word came down from above.

The Human Rights Campaign, an advocacy group, responded that they were “very disappointed that the President is trying to further codify discrimination into law.” HRC also said more recently that using gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender families as pawns in electoral politics cost the president his claim of being a compassionate conservative.

Before the election, in 2000, Dick Cheney had said, “people should be free to enter into any kind of relationship they want to enter into. It’s really no one else’s business, in terms of trying to regulate or-or prohibit behavior in that regard.”

These are some of the many arguments in what has come to be a very polarized debate, with the Vatican/Republican Party vs. Howard Dean/People Demanding Their Rights. The issue is not new, but the fight to end discrimination has intensified and opponents feel the time to act will climax during the 2004 election campaign.

You’ve heard about Bush’s presidential proclamation of a week dedicated to the defense of marriage between a man and a woman (bad timing coming right out of coming out week). “Marriage Protection Week,” Oct. 12-18, will be the new arena for debate over same-sex marriages. “President Bush has endorsed an organized agenda of bigotry, discrimination, exclusion and intolerance,” said the executive director of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays labeled it “a public relations ploy developed by a right-wing coalition bent on denying same-sex couples equal protection under the law” (PFLAG said it supports the idea of a “Marriage Equality Week” during the same week). Back in the other corner, the president of the Family Research Council, a pro-family advocacy group, said “the courts are treating marriage as if it were a Mr. Potato Head where individual preferences govern its makeup.”

Remember, President Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) into law in 1996, which gives states the power to not recognize same-sex unions in other states. Now the Federal Marriage Amendment would make it law that “marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman.” Much more action will come once the violent struggle that is the Presidential Election Campaign heats up.

Gallup Polls in May revealed 49 percent support for legal unions which fell to 40 percent in July. The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Lawrence v. Texas has eroded public support. The GOP has noticed; Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ), chair of the Republican Policy committee, has said that “if congress wants to do something to reaffirm the traditional definition of marriage, it would probably need to act sooner rather than later.”

Gay rights groups have been encouraging their supporters during the debated week to write letters to local papers and ask local news outlets to examine the ways some are working to deny same-sex couples and families the protections and rights that heterosexual couples enjoy.

No one can say which way the scales will fall, this time. The measure is under consideration in the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution. Advocates for all sides are preparing for what will be the #3 hitter behind Terrorism (the leadoff man) and the economy. Now there is something for baseball fans to watch during the off-season.