Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Risking irrelevancy for the comfort of righteousness . . .

The Atlanta Constitution ran the news about the former first daughter's surprise endorsement yesterday in its column "Political Insider" with this bold headline: "Your morning jolt: Barbara Bush endorses gay marriage."

"I'm Barbara Bush,"  Ms. Bush says, "and I'm a New Yorker supporting marriage equality.  "New York is about fairness and equality and everyone should have the right to marry the person they love. Join us."
Ms. Bush taped the video for the Human Rights Campaign, a national gay rights group. It will be shown at their annual gala in Manhattan on Saturday, during which Ms. Bush and other notable New Yorkers will call for New York State to legalize same-sex marriages. 

The Washington Post's "Reliable Source" began its comments on Ms. Bush's public support of gay marriage by quoting  R. Clarke Cooper:
Another way to tell if you're old: how much you care that Barbara Bush supports gay marriage. It's a "non-issue" for most people under 30 years old, said R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans, a group of openly gay GOPers.
The former first daughter, 29, taped a video for Saturday's Human Rights Campaign dinner calling for New York to legalize same-sex marriages. Most younger Republicans -- especially those like Bush with gay friends -- think equal rights is a no-brainer, said Cooper.
This was noted on Capital Tonight, "New York's only state-wide political program:"
Barbara Bush joins prominent Republicans like her mother, former First Lady Laura Bush, as well as former VP Dick Cheney and Ted Olson (a conservative attorney who represented the ex-president in Bush v. Gore in 2000) as supporters of marriage equality. 

As to the Bush family's reaction to BB2's video, The New York Times reported that:
Members of the Bush family seemed uneager to discuss her entry into the marriage debate. Ms. Bush declined an interview request. A spokesman for Mr. Bush said he had no comment. Her sister, Jenna Bush Hager, a correspondent for “Today,” has not publicly discussed the topic.
George Bush is certainly on record as opposing gay marriage. For example, he said the following in a speech given in Pennsylvania on October 22, 2004:
"I think it's very important that we protect marriage as an institution between a man and a woman. I proposed a constitutional amendment. The reason I did so was because I was worried that activist judges are actually defining the definition of marriage. And the surest way to protect marriage between a man and woman is to amend the Constitution."
This was the same conservative Christian politician who had said in a Washington speech on June 1st of that year, "I believe that God wants me to be president." 

Does claiming God's backing make it more difficult for a politician to change his/her views?  

* * * * *

Times marche, social change is relentless, children leave their parents' views in the playground dust of their childhoods. There's nothing harder for humans than realizing that what was once the acknowledged right way of doing or being or believing or marrying just may be right no longer.

I serendipitously did some reading last night that I think relates to the generational moral revolution within the Bush family. I picked up a rather dusty volume that my husband had unearthed in his office called The Improper Philadelphians: A dossier of investigative reporting from Philadelphia Magazine. Charlie had said he thought I'd enjoy the 1970 essay, "The Troubled See," by Bernard McCormick. And he was right, I did enjoy it.

St. Michael's Catholic Church, 1445 North Second Street, Philadelphia
"The Troubled See" explores Philadelphia's deeply conservative Catholic Church's struggles to renew itself in the socially turbulent post-Vatican II  years of the 1970's. The essay begins with a delightful description of growing up Catholic in Philadelphia, back in the first half of the century, when you "were absolutely convinced your church was right. ... You knew this because the Church had the truth and the truth does not change."

Only, somehow, the truth did change, at least in 1970 Philadelphia. Perhaps because there wasn't any real "truth" in the first place; only current interpretations of it. Mr. McCormick paints the very conservative Philadelphia Catholic Church as pushed up against the wall of changing times, having clung a little too long to its "infallibility" as an excuse to dodge dealing with issues such as birth control, civil rights and the Vietnam War. It was fast losing its young people.

McCormick writes: 
Although many of the traditionalists welcome some aspects of renewal, they are, at the same time, more than a little disconcerted by what seems an irreconcilable picture of their all-knowing, unchanging Church struggling to find a way to reverse itself on key issues.
"The day the Church changes its mind on birth control is the day they lose me," says a lay teacher in a suburban Catholic high school. It is not that the teacher is against birth control; rather, he cannot accept the quality of infallibility in a Church that alters a basic position."
Could remaining absolutely rigid about such social issues as birth control and gay marriage be a risky comfort for both conservative Catholics and conservative politicians?


  1. Hard to tell which side is irrelevant and which is self-righteous!

  2. I think she just wishes some1 would marry her