[font=Times New Roman,Georgia,Times] Hmmm...[/font] [font=Times New Roman,Georgia,Times]||[/font][font=Arial,Helvetica,Geneva,Swiss,SunSans-Regular]against the current[/font][font=Times New Roman,Georgia,Times]|| [/font][font=Arial,Helvetica,Geneva,Swiss,SunSans-Regular]The Deal Breaker [/font][font=Arial,Helvetica,Geneva,Swiss,SunSans-Regular]By Andrew Sullivan[/font] [font=Arial,Helvetica,Geneva,Swiss,SunSans-Regular]From The Advocate, May 11, 2004 Issue[/font] We all have some idea of what a deal-breaker in a relationship is. It differs with each of us. I don’t think I could ever date someone who doesn’t find Monty Python funny, who shaves or trims his body hair in any way, or who takes Michael Moore seriously. But that’s just me. There are other, more objective measures. Domestic violence is obviously one; emotional abuse is another; cruelty or contempt would play a decisive part as well. You don’t have to get along with your partner in every respect, but there are limits, and it’s important to know when you’ve reached them. I endorsed George W. Bush for president in 2000—very narrowly. It was more an anti-Gore decision than a pro-Bush one. I really wanted John McCain to win. I still support the president’s war on terror. But it’s time to say something very clearly: Bush’s endorsement of antigay discrimination in the U.S. Constitution itself is a deal-breaker. I can’t endorse him this fall. Like many other gay men and women who have supported him, despite serious disagreements, I feel betrayed, abused, attacked. This betrayal exists on two levels. First, it’s a betrayal of the inclusion and compassion once promised by George W. Bush. The proposed constitutional amendment is a conscious and clear attempt to exempt gay citizens—and only gay citizens—from the equal protection of the law. It’s an amendment designed to marginalize an entire minority. When the president endorsed the amendment, he could not even bring himself to say the words “gay,” “lesbian,” or “homosexual.” He could not even manage a sentence to speak to the very Americans he seeks to disenfranchise. I’m sick of being told that, on a personal level, this president is not homophobic. If it’s true, it makes his catering to homophobia even worse—an act of political cynicism. If he cannot even name us, he cannot pretend to accord us dignity and respect. It’s a lie. I’m not a Republican, so I have no party to leave. I’m not even sure what I would say to a gay Republican right now. But I would insist that the president’s stance is a betrayal of conservatism as well. Civil marriage is a conservative institution in many ways. Denying it to gays is tantamount to arguing that homosexuals should always be at the margins of society, beyond its unifying institutions, outside their own families and society. To my mind, that is unconservative. It segregates and divides people into groups, while conservatism should seek to treat all individuals equally. Worse, the amendment strips states of the right to decide for themselves how they want civil marriage to be defined. Again, that’s a betrayal of a political tradition that has long embraced states’ rights and the benefits of local rather than federal government. And using the sacred Constitution as a political tool is also a frivolous ploy that traditional conservatives would never endorse. No president is perfect. It’s important to note that even John Kerry opposes equal marriage rights. So do Bill Clinton and Howard Dean. I can live with disagreement on the issue of civil marriage itself. But raising the issue to the level of a constitutional amendment is not something anyone can or should live with. It’s writing gay people out of their own country. It’s the political equivalent of domestic violence. Once that happens you’re a fool to stay in the relationship. You’re asking for more abuse. You’re enabling a movement that seeks to destroy you. I will be excoriated by the same people who always denounce anyone who doesn’t toe the Democratic Party line. “What took you so long?” they sneer. Hope, engagement, principle are my answers. I do not regret trying to make conservatism safe for gays. It’s still possible to be in favor of small government, low taxes, a tough foreign policy, and to be a proud gay man. My principles haven’t changed. Nor will they anytime soon. But when a president allies himself with forces that really do want to keep gay people in jail, therapy, or the closet, it’s time to break off. The deal is broken. And no amount of rationalization can make it whole again.