A Cautious Man
February 25, 2004
New York City Serenade
The President has decided that gay marriage is an issue important enough for him to appear at a press announcement, and to address through an amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Even though a constitutional change will take years, he made it sound as if this was some emergent action, which was needed immediately in order to address situations from Massachusetts to San Francisco, and points in between.
What this means is that the issue will not be resolved, and therefore can be "live", through the conventions and the general election this November. For their convention, the President's party will be in New York City, where the mayor is not exactly in lock-step with the President on this issue:
[Mayor Michael] Bloomberg opposes President George W. Bush's proposed constitutional amendment banning homosexual unions, but he's steadfastly refused to express his private opinions on the issue -- saying it is technically a matter of state jurisdiction.That's the situation now. What will things be like by the time the convention rolls around in early September?
Wednesday was no exception.
"In terms of what is legal in New York, if you've got some views, you should call the State Legislature," Bloomberg said during a news conference at North Central Bronx Hospital yesterday morning. "They are the ones that are going to have to deal with this issue. New York City will enforce whatever the laws are... and I will make sure that they do that."
The mayor, a self-avowed supporter of gay rights, signed a law in 2002 allowing same-sex couples married in other states and countries to retain their rights in the city. But he hasn't endorsed extending those rights to people who want to get married here.
The closest he's come to a personal expression on the topic came in August 2001, a month before his election, when he told a Jewish Week reporter, "When I got married I chose to marry a woman. I do not, however, think it is my business who you marry."
Last summer, he slammed conservative Republicans for trying to insert an anti-gay marriage plank in the party platform, saying, "I have always thought that people should always be allowed to go about their business themselves."
Asked if that position meant he supported gay marriage, Bloomberg replied, "My personal opinion is not important."
Some folks have speculated about how this could be a problem for the Democrats - a convention in Boston, same-sex marriages taking place through the summer, televisions showing a "split screen" with the nominee on one side, and gay nuptials being celebrated on the other. But what about this scenario for the Republican convention: the host Mayor, and other officials gradually deciding to be more vocal in their views; speakers departing from their scripts to appeal to convention-goers, live on television; and, good solid Republican mothers and fathers of gay adults, gathering in front of the convention site in silent witness to say, "We're not sure if marriage, or civil unions, or some other relationship should be available to our children, but we can agree that your desire to ban any possibility of these is the wrong way to go." Should be interesting to see.