OP-EDS

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February 27, 2004

Debating the marriage amendment

Over the past few months, the issue of gay marriage has exploded in the media, in academic discourse, and in political discussions. It has caused the latest rift in American society, and politicians have lined up on every side of the debate. This week, President Bush announced his support for a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Prohibiting gay couples from receiving the same legal rights extended to heterosexual married couples not only discriminates but also conveys a lack of acceptance.

The issue of gay marriage is a contentious one that will be at the center of much debate in the coming months. We believe that amendments excluding a group of people or prohibiting certain actions are rarely a good idea. The country's last attempt at this—the 18th Amendment prohibiting alcohol—was a dismal failure.

The President's vocal support for an amendment is also worrisome because it appears to be a political move. Many analysts point to this as an election-year attempt to please and mobilize the core Republican conservatives Bush feels are crucial to his re-election. Although no such decision could be free of political influence, an issue as sensitive and complex as gay marriage deserves more than to be used as a political tactic.