Throughout history, same-sex marriage has been illegal. In 1996, President Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act, so that states could refuse to recognize same-sex marriages from other states. Sen. John Kerry opposes same-sex marriage but supports civil unions for same-sex couples. President Bush has about the same position as Kerry, except that he also supports a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.
So it is odd that, according to pundits and readers, even though majorities of voters opposed same-sex marriage, only the GOP is the homophobic party.
In 2000, 61 percent of California voters approved Proposition 22, also dubbed the Defense of Marriage Act, which declared, "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California." If the GOP is the homophobic party for opposing same-sex marriage, then California is the homophobic state.
On Sunday, Bush guru Karl Rove told Fox News that the president will push for a constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage because "We cannot allow activist local elected officials to thumb their nose at 5,000 years of human history and determine that marriage is something else."
Rove's point about 5,000 years of history strikes at the heart of the debate. It is insane to blame George Bush for adhering to values dear to Americans since before the American Revolution.
Twenty years ago, same-sex marriage wasn't an issue. According to Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, no nation sanctioned the practice until the Netherlands did so in 2001.
Has same-sex marriage ever happened in history? A spokesperson for the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation referred me to historian George Chauncey, author of "Why Marriage? The History Shaping Today's Debate over Gay Equality."
Chauncey answered that the modern notion of marriage as legally sanctified through history is inaccurate; at times, men and women came together and declared themselves as man and wife, without state or church sanction. Still, societies recognized these unions. Hawaiian kings, he said, had male consorts. Medieval churches interred male couples together.
In other words, if Rove wasn't 100 percent right about marriage over the millennia, he was right about the last thousand years.