The Republican and Democratic parties could have stirred up more television audience for their national nominating conventions by allowing the delegates to debate their party platforms. But both presidential nominees exercised such tight control that no such debate was permitted.
Both parties adopted their platforms with a single pound of the gavel. The thousands of delegates who came from all over the country dutifully played their roles as props for a television special.
It was an extraordinary feat of political management to prevent political activists in both parties from airing deeply held differences on political, social, economic and foreign policy issues. Party managers allowed strong positions on only two issues essential to their own constituencies, while most of the verbiage in both platforms was written to appeal to the so-called middle.
The Republican platform supports traditional marriage as the "unique and special union of one man and one woman." It endorses a constitutional amendment to protect marriage as well as the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
The Defense of Marriage Act garnered 85 votes when it passed the Senate in 1996, but Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., was one of the handful who voted against it, and President Bush rubbed this in during his acceptance speech. Bush said, "If you voted against the bipartisan Defense of Marriage Act, which former President Clinton signed, you are not the candidate of conservative values."
The Republican platform quotes President Bush's oft-repeated line: "We will not stand for judges who undermine democracy by legislating from the bench and try to remake America by court order." The platform followed up by asserting: "The Republican House of Representatives has responded to this challenge by passing H.R. 3313, a bill to withdraw jurisdiction from the federal courts over the Defense of Marriage Act. We urge Congress to use its Article III power to enact this into law, so that activist federal judges cannot force 49 other states to approve and recognize Massachusetts' attempt to redefine marriage."
In contrast, the Democratic platform endorses "equal responsibilities, benefits, and protections" for "gay and lesbian families," and opposes a federal marriage amendment. It stopped short of endorsing same-sex marriage, hiding behind the excuse that marriage should continue to be defined at the state level.
This pretense of Kerry and the Democrats to be born-again states' righters is as phony as a $3 bill. The Defense of Marriage Act, which Kerry voted against, is the perfect states' rights answer to the marriage issue because it assures the right of the other 49 states to refuse to recognize Massachusetts same-sex marriage licenses.
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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