Clinton support for anti-gay law alarming

Since his first days in office, President Clinton has often bent over backward to show support for homosexuals and recognize gay issues. Those efforts make reports that the president will approve a bill that would deny federal recognition of gay marriages all the more surprising. White House Press Secretary Michael McCurry said Clinton will likely sign the “defense of marriage” bill if it reaches his desk “as it’s currently written.”The bill, which has not yet passed through either house of Congress, defines marriage as a union of one man and one woman, denies federal benefits to same-sex couples and fires a preemptive strike at several states considering gay marriage laws. McCurry’s hint comes on the heels of a Supreme Court ruling last week barring a Colorado state constitutional amendment that essentially allowed discriminatory practices against homosexuals. The ruling signaled expanded federal acknowledgement of gay rights.
Why, then, the apparent turnabout? The White House says the Republican measure is on par with the president’s long-held personal feelings on the issue of gay marriage. That statement, however, seems inconsistent in light of Clinton’s work in trying to end the ban on gays in the military. What’s more, Clinton’s presidential campaign adversary, outgoing Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, R-Kan., co-sponsored the marriage bill. This all begs the question: Is the president trying to hold on to his job by stealing his opponent’s thunder, by robbing the Republican Party of its political arsenal?
Clinton has in recent days pledged to sign another piece of Republican legislation — again, supported by Dole — that would place a federal five-year lifetime limit on welfare benefits. He has also sung the praises of the U.S. military’s valiant efforts in the Persian Gulf War — which he opposed — and reignited discussion of a middle-class tax cut, which was conveniently forgotten throughout his tenure. The president, in his quest for a second term, is apparently selling his soul to the conservatives.
Homosexuals are perhaps the most widely discriminated against of any social group. That discrimination is pervasive, its power spreading to the government’s highest levels — the Supreme Court apparently excepted. Therefore, it’s not really surprising that the Republican Party — out of fear, ignorance, or whatever it is that fuels prejudice — has stepped up the fight against gay marriage. What is surprising is that the president — by his words and actions a liberal — is joining the battle.
Homosexuals do not deserve special consideration on the basis of their sexual orientation any more than heterosexuals. Gay rights groups, we hope, would say the same. The issue at hand is one of equality: an evenhanded, non-biased approach to problems and situations of importance to the gay community. Until any and all bills that deny the existence of those problems and situations are removed from consideration, discrimination will only strengthen its tight grip on society.