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"America has two great dominant strands of political thought - conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barriers that should never have been erected." -- Bill Clinton, Dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library, November 2004

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Wednesday, August 13, 2003


Civil unions debate: bring it on!

posted by G at Wednesday, August 13, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
As we've previously discussed, gay rights may prove to be the wedge issue that rips the Republican party apart. The Federal Marriage Amendment currently being pushed in by the right wing in Congress would not just ban gay marriage but also the civil unions Dean has trumpeted in Vermont. Here's the text of the proposed amendment:
Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution nor the constitution of any state, nor state or federal law, shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups.
In his last press conference Bush endorsed this amendment, sort of. I can't wait for the moment in the Dean-Bush debate when Bush says he favors the amendment and then Deans pulls out the following (quoted here from Aug. 7 speech):
We don't have same-sex marriage in Vermont. Our bill says marriage is between a man and a woman, but same-sex couples may enter into a civil union and achieve all of the same legal rights.

And I think that's important.

Let me tell you why I think this is important. Marriage is a complicated business because it's both religious and civil. It started out as only religious. We decided we would leave the marriage to the church, that we were not going to tell any church that they had to marry people if they thought they shouldn't marry.

That is not the business of the state, that is the business of the church. But we also decided that everybody deserves exactly the same rights under the law, hospital visitation, insurance, inheritance. There's a zillion legal rights that you can only get if you're married.

Here's why I believe that. I believe that every single American deserves the same rights that I do. I've said before we were all in this together.

When you run for president, you meet extraordinary people. There's no such thing as a boring American, and I've met some extraordinary people.

And I'm going to tell you a story that happened to me about eight months ago or so in Washington. I gave a speech -- I've forgotten who the group is and I forgot what the speech was about, but after I got down off the stage, a guy who was 80 years old came up to me and said, "Governor, I'm 80 years old. I want to thank you for the Civil Unions Bill."

And I was shocked, so I said, "Oh, thank you very much. Do you have someone in your family who is gay or lesbian?" He said, "No governor, I'm a veteran. I was on the beach in D-Day in Normandy. A lot of my friends were killed, and I'm gay."

Now, there's a guy who did what all of those people in the White House who never served a day in their life abroad talk about all the time, a guy who was willing to give his life for the United States of America, whose friends did die in the service of the United States of America, defending not only American freedoms, but the freedoms of the Western world. If that guy doesn't deserve exactly the same rights that I have when he comes home, then this isn't the country I think it is. And I think this is a great country and he's going to get those rights.


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Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.