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Marriage Debate: Silencing the Opposition
February 15, 2004

SAN FRANCISCO, Ca - Last week, in the capital of cultural experimentation, San Francisco, the newly-elected mayor, Gavin Newsom, instructed the City Attorney to issue marriage certificates to couples of the same sex.

Now, Newsom was the only straight mainstream candidate for Mayor. He was raised as a Roman Catholic. His conservative base includes thousands of West Side Catholic Irish and Italian Americans.

But his conservative constituents have remain silent. Not one critical remark was recorded in the local press. Newsom's voters supported him for his tough stand on lawless street people and homelessness. Others thought he would revive the local economy. Still others feared the radical politics of his opponent in the runoff elections, Green Party candidate Matt Gonzales.

Now his supporters stand helplessly silent as their candidate has unilaterally redefined marriage in the City of St. Francis, out flanking even his liberal opponents.

What accounts for his constituents silence?

This city enforces silence through subtle intimidation, leaving no apparent signs of opposition in San Francisco. Any criticism will result in severe social rebuke, and charges of some form of phobia. In this case, a serious condemnable case of homophobia would be charged if you would oppose the Mayor's decision.

I asked several business and Republican leaders why they were not speaking out. Not one was prepared to criticize Mayor Newsom. One top ranking Republican official said he didn't want to anger the Mayor, and besides, "you know they'll call you a homophobe if you criticize City Hall's gay marriages."

This is part of a larger political phenomena.

The current crusade to force same sex marriages is not about marriage. Unquestionably, most of those signing up for San Francisco marriage licenses sincerely seek the legitimacy and benefits of marriage. They unfortunately will suffer the emotional fallout when their marriage licenses are voided. Those who lined up to be married in City Hall have become pawns for the radicals of the gay movement, who are not interested in marital equivalency.

California recently enacted a bundle of new rights for gay couples. California Assembly Bill 205, The Domestic Partner Rights and Responsibilities Act, provides registered domestic partners and their families nearly all the rights and responsibilities currently available only to married couples under state law, including child custody and child support obligations, community property, mutual responsibility for debt, and the right to make funeral arrangements.

But only 16,000 citizens in a state of 33 million have signed up as domestic partners to take advantage of the benefits.

The current uproar over same sex marriages is not about political or economic rights. This is the absolute imposition of a cultural definition by a minority on the majority -- the tyranny of the minority. It's doomed to fail.

Political battles differ from cultural clashes.

In the sixties, American blacks earned a bundle of benefits through violent demonstrations, assassinations, as well as bitter debate in Congress and in state houses. Still, most African Americans -- including Secretary of State Colin Powell -- would acknowledge America is still a racist society.

What they mean is that while policy tools like affirmative action may produce measurable economic and educational opportunities, they don't change minds and attitudes.

Like black leaders in the sixties, gay leaders aren't interested in changing attitudes or values. They've become impatient, dropping the strategy of building slowly over a generation, leading towards the acceptance of gay marriages. They've made no real gains in the public's minds. According to a FOX News poll conducted in the days following the Supreme Judicial Court ruling in Massachusetts, 66 percent of Americans oppose and 25 percent favor same-sex marriage. These new results are similar to those from August 2003, as well as results from 1996, when 65 percent of the public said they opposed allowing same-sex couples to marry.

Still they will impose a new definition of marriage through the courts.

But it will not stop there.

In each country where gay marriages were sanctioned, any criticism of gays has become a crime. In other words the de facto ban on criticism we're seeing presently in San Francisco has been codified. In Sweden, they've passed a constitutional amendment making criticism of homosexuality a crime, punishable by up to four years in jail. Expressing a moral objection to homosexuality is illegal, even on religious grounds.

Canada's House of Commons extended the Canada's hate crime laws to cover gays and lesbians on Sept. 18. The vote was 141 to 110. The change to the Criminal Code protects gays and lesbians from incitement of hatred and genocide. The code already banned hate based on color, ethnicity, race and religion. Violators could be jailed for up to five years.

Gays and lesbians have not rushed into America's streets in support of same sex marriages. There is no broad base consensus, even in the gay communities. That in fact may be the reason no massive demonstrations accompany the current legal effort -- Namely, most in gay communities understand at risk are years of building trust and understanding in personal relations with straight communities.

History will show that gay leaders may succeed in a legal redefinition of marriage, but they will fail to win the hearts and minds of the majority of Americans. While you can demand secure equal rights and privileges, you can't force acceptance. The greater the coercion, the less change in attitude. True equality comes from the heart not the courts. That's true even here in San Francisco.

Write to Arthur at bruzzone@rightturns.com


Arthur Bruzzone   is an award-winning public affairs television producer/host and has written over 250 political articles for national and regional media. He has commented on political and urban issues for American and European television and radio networks. His articles and columns have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Examiner, Campaign & Elections Magazine, among other publications. Mr. Bruzzone holds a Masters Degree in Philosophy from C.U.A in Washington , D.C., and a M.B.A. in real estate. He is a returned Peace Corps volunteer serving two years in the Kingdom of Tonga, and the former chair of the San Francisco Republican Party. He served as a California state commissioner on a major environmental regulatory agency. He presently is president of a real estate investment company headquartered in San Francisco, CA.

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