John Edwards on marriage equality

[I posted this over at the JE08 blog after someone posted No politician has to take a position on this,, meaning marriage equality.]

Actually, they do.

This is a question every person who cares about civil equality should ask of every candidate -- and expect an answer:

Are gay and lesbian couples entitled to benefits at the local, state, and federal levels that are automatically conveyed with civil marriage? If not, why not? If yes, tell us why?

We're talking about equal rights to civil marriage, not "gay marriage" (which is loaded -- and leaves it open to the conflation of religious and civil marriage, which the right counts on). In the wake of so many state amendments that have passed, placing gay and lesbian families' rights in legal jeopardy, those running for office are obligated to get on the record. Merely stating one believes "marriage is between a man and a woman" or saying "let the states decide" will no longer fly. Edwards' statement and public emotional wrangling over the issue is heartfelt, but his position is not markedly different than in 2004.

What I do appreciate is that John Edwards is not dodging the general question early on, he delivered an answer that I believe reflects the opinion of many of the folks out there on the fence. Most candidates in 2004 ran from discussing the issue like the plague; the Democratic Party's silence played into the hands of equality opponents by appearing to give off an air that there's something unseemly about gay and lesbian couples wanting to have rights that convey with civil marriage. It was palpable.

Expecting an answer is not the same as saying marriage equality is the single most important issue facing our country today; that's just another shield thrown up when people would rather change the subject. Bush has made sure that there are plenty of matters at the top of the list, managing to screw up foreign and domestic policy in mind-blowing, budget-busting, eco-damaging, miltary-destroying, civil-liberty slashing ways. It doesn't mean, however, that the question of marriage equality should be avoided.

The lack of leadership in both parties as the rights of LGBT taxpayers have been subject to the public's whim at the ballot box is a disgrace and hurts real, not hypothetical people by creating a legal limbo and second-class status - that is uniquely un-American. How else will this issue be tackled unless a national discussion is generated and debated with positive framing? Opening up a public dialogue allows everyone to become more comfortable with discussing the issue.

The Democrats have been content to let the Dobsons, Falwells, Bauers and Wildmons drive the train. It's time to boot them all off the caboose and onto the tracks.

And for those who say civil unions with all the same benefits as "marriage" is adequate, I presume no one would mind if all current heterosexual marriages would be converted to civil unions at the same time, leaving the word "marriage" at the house of worship's door. Until that occurs, we're going to see the problems of "separate but equal" in New Jersey, which by law has decided upon civil unions rather than opening marriage to gays and lesbians. The state now has to have a commission to look at all the cracks in the system that will occur as they find out that separate isn't exactly equal.

Comments

Marriage

Thanks for posting this, Pam.

And for those who say civil unions with all the same benefits as "marriage" is adequate, I presume no one would mind if all current heterosexual marriages would be converted to civil unions at the same time, leaving the word "marriage" at the house of worship's door.

This is the winning strategy in my opinion. Both the shortest path and the right answer.

Good to see you. Happy new year!

Recommended. I love your writing.

Even though I think Pam was being kindly snarky...

I agree. Why are we providing state-based benefits based on religion? I think that whatever we call it, people should be able to legally commit to one another no matter what their local churches believe. With that comes the same pros and cons, including one party suing the other for all their worth ; )

NC Defend Health Care

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
-me

I agree totally.

I was married in the CH town jail, since that's where the JPs hang out. I haven't set foot in a church in 10 years, except for other people's weddings. I'd gladly call it a civil union if that meant G&L couples could do it, too.

Leave 'marriage' to the churches, and let them discriminate at will. Put the civil contract in the hands of the government, without discrimination. This is a pretty popular stance among my group of (mostly atheist/agnostic, with a higher than average proportion of GLBT) friends.

Separation of church and state

I am a firm believer in the separation of religion and state. My husband and I made our spiritual vows to each other privately, in our backyard, with witnesses only of a few birds, and a circle cedar trees.

The marriage was indeed a "civil union". But it is printed on a marriage license from the state of NC. I don't see why this should be any different from other loving couple. As long as they are adults able to enter into legal contracts, their gender shouldn't matter to the state.

And honestly - for those who say that the marriage of two other people threatens their own marriage: you have bigger problems than politics, my darlings. Bigger problems indeed.

"Be the change you wish to see in the world." - Gandhi

Wonderful Neighbors

I have wonderful neighbors who happen to be lesbians. They have had a commited relationship for many years. They have a 16 year old son who is one of the nicest boys you will ever meet. I have never asked them which one of them gave birth to him. He is "our boy". They both have PhDs and great jobs. They are probably my favorite neighbors. Do the people who actually know gay and lesbian couples think that their relationships aren't as real as anybody else's? How is a gay or lesbian couple going to effect your life?

I completely understand how John Edwards feels. When I was young there weren't gays and lesbians. They were sissys and tomboys. What an awful burden they had. It took me years to get where I am today. I had to personally know gay people to understand that they weren't really different. Like Elizabeth Edwards said, our children and grandchildren won't have a problem with it. Most of the kids today don't have a problem with sexual preference or race. Thank God for the young people. We can learn from them.

Lovex7

PS

I had always known gays and lesbians, I just didn't know it.

Lovex7

Children of gay couples

The ramifications of same-gender marriage/union benefits are far-reaching; not the least of which, in my opinion, is equal protection under the law for the children of the family.

My sister was gay. She and her partner raised her two children until her son was in 9th grade, her daughter in 6th. But unfortunately, my sister died. My niece and nephew lost two wonderful moms that day. They haven't seen my sister-in-law since the day of my sister's funeral. Non-biological gay parents have no legal rights with the children they raise unless they are able to adopt them.

In this case my asshole ex brother-in-law (sorry, Anglico, in this case, that's the only word that fits)swooped in, took the children away, out of state on the day of my sister's funeral. They haven't been back to NC since.

"Be the change you wish to see in the world." - Ghandi

I can vouch...

That really is the only word. Well, maybe not.. but it is the kindest.

And another thing

It wasn't that many years ago that people were saying the same things about interracial marriage, or interreligious marriage.

While it might not be something you thought you grew up with or thought you had in your family, I guarantee you, you know someone who is affected by this. (Not talking directly to you, Lovex7) It shouldn't be the big deal it is. Seems like a no brainer to me.

"Be the change you wish to see in the world." - Ghandi

I agree, the question is one

I agree, the question is one of separation of church and state. Churches - pastors, rabbis, priests, etc. - have the right and obligation to refuse marriage to any couple that doesn't meet their requirements, whether of age, sex, religion, emotional maturity, or whatever is important to them. But civil marriage is a civil right.

I had the benefit, as a teenager back in the 60's, of knowing a lesbian couple, and seeing that they were just like everybody else. That exposure has, perhaps, influenced my attitudes ever since then.

I have a button

with that phrase on it :) I wanted to wear it on Saturday, but I didn't think the people in charge of the volunteers would have allowed it.

eeep!

If they wouldn't have allowed it...I would be concerned about volunteering.

"Be the change you wish to see in the world." - Ghandi

I never asked...

then I never got around to taking it off my messenger bag.

I also have "Jesus was a liberal," "marriage = *heart* + *heart*" "treehugger," and one with a blue-lavender-pink rainbow.

I shoulda worn the treehugger one.

with respect, I say we play defense on this issue

I think progressives should play defense on this issue for a while.

Keep in mind that Edwards wasn't able to win his home state and the conventional wisdom was that he didn't deliver the South and the Midwest like the ticket had hoped.

I think North Carolina's biggest priority should be keeping a marriage ban off the ballot. Thanks to a large democratic majority in the House and Senate, it won't be on the ballot in the coming session. You aren't going to get NC House and Senate Dems to go on record saying they support same sex marriage, (except in the most liberal districts) but they will keep it from being placed on the ballot (it would most likely pass in North Carolina.) That is a major achievement as North Carolina is the only Southern state without a ban. It passed with 78% in SC, 57% in VA and 76% in GA. Polling has shown it will pass in NC by the same margins as it passed in VA.

I think that the strategy should be to have some patience on this issue for a while. Younger generations have come around -- given enough time they will see same sex marriage and employment non-discrimination become a reality. But we have to be strategic about it.

"Repealing the estate tax is like choosing the 2020 Olympic team by picking the eldest sons of the gold-medal winners in the 2000 Olympics". - Warren Buffett

"Repealing the estate tax is like choosing the 2020 Olympic team by picking the eldest sons of the gold-medal winners in the 2000 Olympics". - Warren Buffett

waiting and playing defense allows the clock to roll back

Your response is similar in nature to another commenter I addressed on the Edwards blog. There I said...

With amendments passing in many states, ones that outlaw marriage and civil unions for gay couples, even private contracts between those individuals are placed into legal jeopardy, and subject to challenges by homophobic relatives. This will tear apart the fabric of families right now in states like Wisconsin and Virginia, which voted for extremely anti-gay marriage amendments.

If it were only a matter of incremental public gains in support, that would be one matter, but we have active legislative efforts to roll back civil rights for gays and lesbians while people take their time to "get used to" the idea (and reconcile their faith with civil rights) that we're more than second-class citizens.

Martin Luther King didn't offer up half-measures for civil rights -- and there weren't efforts to put the civil rights of blacks on the ballot state by state.

--
Pam Spaulding
Durham, NC USA

Pam's House Blend
www.pamshouseblend.com

--
Pam Spaulding
Durham, NC USA

Pam's House Blend
www.pamshouseblend.com

I Think You Don't Go All In On A Hand You Can't Win

You're right, Pam, but the civil rights Dr. King was pursuing were already guaranteed in the Constitution. This is more like the progress toward women's right to vote... except for the religious fervor.
Every argument I've heard against same-sex marriage is wrong-headed as a matter of law, but it isn't going to be argued as a matter of law nationally this year or next. It's going to be argued as an affront to God, and I don't see a candidate winning the Presidency running against God.
I hear what you're saying and I know that you're right, but it wouldn't happen even if you found a candidate willing to self-destruct his or her campaign.

Jacks or Better.

You also don't fold every hand weaker than Jacks or Better, or else everyone knows when you have a strong hand and when you have a weak hand.

Now that we have killed the poker analogy, you have to be willing to fight for personal freedom less you risk losing it.

NC Defend Health Care

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
-me

the difference in 2008

...is that the question of a candidate getting on the record on where he/she stands on civil equality is not going to be as simple as doing the 2004 punt all over again, given what has occurred in all the states that have passed amendments that are having direct legal consequences for gay families.

Better answers are required, ones with more nuance and thought behind the issue. As I said over at the Edwards blog, the real problem is the DNC, which could be paving the way for candidates on how to handle this issue rather than allowing candidates to fumble their way through it. When I was at a conference in Houston for openly gay elected officials a couple of months ago, Howard Dean spent most of his face time talking about how great it was that the Dems won 1/3 of the evangelical vote -- the very same people who voted for these marriage amendments in the states. That's messed up.

--
Pam Spaulding
Durham, NC USA

Pam's House Blend
www.pamshouseblend.com

--
Pam Spaulding
Durham, NC USA

Pam's House Blend
www.pamshouseblend.com

i really hope

That you aren't advocating going after moderate Democrats in 2008 for not being public enough in their support for gay rights. That would play right into the Republican's hand.

They know that they will lose on gay rights over time. That's why they pushed it. In many parts of the country it isn't working for them anymore like it did. But this is North Carolina and we need to be extremely careful and strategic to advance gay rights or we'll end up with a marriage ban like every other Southern state.

As for the DNC being at fault here, I have to disagree. Districts vary widely in their makeup and a successful politician has to know how to play her/his district to get elected. It isn't simply a matter of politicians not knowing how to talk about gay rights, the issue is that many of them know how much their district can take.

I think the idea that democrats simply need to be schooled in how to frame issues is a losing one. Someone like Heath Shuler isn't going to come out overwhelmingly for gay rights but he sure as hell isn't going to use them as a wedge issue like Taylor did and that is a HUGE advantage for Democrats and progressives.

Like it or not, the reality is that we are going to have to figure out a smart strategy for advancing gay rights -- it isn't as simple as determining the most right answer and demanding it regardless of how it will play in a district. That is why Howard Dean was sharing his excitement about evangelicals voting for Democrats. It delivered Dems power and that is what we need to advance gay rights.

"Repealing the estate tax is like choosing the 2020 Olympic team by picking the eldest sons of the gold-medal winners in the 2000 Olympics". - Warren Buffett

"Repealing the estate tax is like choosing the 2020 Olympic team by picking the eldest sons of the gold-medal winners in the 2000 Olympics". - Warren Buffett

you're missing the point

That you aren't advocating going after moderate Democrats in 2008 for not being public enough in their support for gay rights.

I am going after Dems in 2008 for not articulating a clear position on marriage equality in the wake of those amendments. The goal is to get them on the record. Do they hold the same "leave it to the states" position as in 2004, or have they had any evolution of that position? Surely asking the question and delivering an answer is not political suicide.

Voters can then decide whether these pols have given a civil rights issue affecting millions of Americans any more thought.

That is not holding them to a particular view, it's simply opening up the dialogue after the last presidential cycle where Dems ran screaming for the hills at the mention of the issue.

--
Pam Spaulding
Durham, NC USA

Pam's House Blend
www.pamshouseblend.com

--
Pam Spaulding
Durham, NC USA

Pam's House Blend
www.pamshouseblend.com

I'm with Pam on this

after years of misdirection, obfuscation and political double-speak, I actually believe Americans are ready for candor and clarity. And given columns like this by a US general in the New York Times, it's hard to make the case that the subject should be avoided.

To reiterate my own view . . . I want government out of the marriage business altogether. Yes, the government has a role in law related to contracts (which is what we really should be talking about), but it has no legitimate role in the blessing of such contacts through religious or spiritual affirmations.

Let's find a way to have government oversight of the contracts, and let non-governmental institutions like churches do whatever they want when it comes to marriage.

If Edwards needs some assistance thinking this through...

Take a look at Colorado's Angie Paccione, who lost by only 3% in her challenge to homophobic Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (who had to have appearances by Cheney and Bush and a whole lot of GOP cash flow into to the state save her seat). She didn't hold back in stating her position clearly in this debate.

And Colorado is a state that passed both a marriage amendment and a separate ballot measure that barred establishing a domestic partner registry. If a pro-equality stance was a killer, Paccione should have lost in a landslide, given an amendment was on the ballot and brought out the fundies.

--
Pam Spaulding
Durham, NC USA

Pam's House Blend
www.pamshouseblend.com

--
Pam Spaulding
Durham, NC USA

Pam's House Blend
www.pamshouseblend.com

Gave me chill bumps!

A saw this over at your blog (I think) and just watched it again. How great would life be with a whole government full of people like her!

No, she did not hold back, did she?

And she made some great points, some of the same ones I have tried to make about Johnston County's own Fred Smith's "Defense of Marriage" bill. If he really wants to defend marriage, he needs to do something about divorce, infidelity, domestic violence. Real defense of marriage would include support for families, like health care that's affordable and readily available; child care that didn't take most of one spouse's income; an increase in the minimum wage so families would not have to choose between food on the table or gas in the car.

I love her closing line - "Marriage is not a threat to marriage."

yeahbut ...

our own Dear Fred is divorced and remarried hisownself. (Though that is the LEAST of his problems in the "values" department if you ask me.)

Yep, Fredly is badly damaged goods when you start talking REAL defense of marriage issues. He prefers writing legislation that will villify and remove domestic partnership benefits from people who currently enjoy them in the workplace to shining a big ol' spot-light on his own personal flaws.

"They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum Then they charged the people a dollar 'n a half just to see 'em. Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone? They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

Marriage Rights

...but the civil rights Dr. King was pursuing were already guaranteed in the Constitution.

The rights associated with being married may not be guaranteed in the Constitution, but there are over 1,000 federal rights and protections associated with being married that my husband and I enjoy that my sister and her partner did not. From the Human Rights Campaign:

Social Security provides the sole means of support for some elderly Americans. All working Americans contribute to this program through payroll tax, and receive payments upon retirement. Surviving spouses of working Americans are eligible to receive Social Security payments. A surviving spouse caring for a deceased employee’s minor child is also eligible for an additional support payment. Surviving spouse and surviving parent benefits are denied to gay and lesbian Americans because they cannot marry. Thus, a lesbian couple who contributes an equal amount to Social Security over their lifetime as a married couple would receive drastically unequal benefits.

Other benefits and protections that married heterosexual couples are eligible for under federal law that couples who are not married are not eligible for include tax benefits such as the earned income tax credit, the child tax credit, taxation limit on sale of principle residence; immigration benefits, Family and Medical Leave Act; COBRA.. and the list goes on.

So while the right of same gender couples to marry is not (yet) protected by the Constitution, the 14th Amendment of the Constitution does guarantee all citizens equal protection under the law.

It is my firm belief that by denying homosexual partners the right to marry, and thus denying them the rights and protections afforded to heterosexual citizens by the federal government, many states are acting in an unconstitutional manner.

I don't see how I, as a liberal, progressive Democrat, can remain silent on this issue, and I will encourage my party and any candidate that I support to confront the issue head-on, no matter how uncomfortable they are with it.

"Be the change you wish to see in the world." - Gandhi

hospital visitation rights

Any chance of (preferably federal) legislation abolishing differences between marriage and civil unions, such as allowing hospital visitation rights? That would redefine the issue, making support for such rights very emotional compared to opposition (who deeply to the core of their soul opposes the right of glbt partners to visit each other in the hospital?), setting us up as the good guys. It would also take religion out of it by guaranteeing equality without infringing on the religious implications of marriage. Anyone know if this could fly?

I think the point is that most of the opposition is

opposed to homosexuality to the "very core of their souls."

I believe that by presenting it as a matter of civil rights, and not a religious issue, is the only way this will ever be solved. There will always be those who oppose civil rights for all couples, just as there are those who still oppose interracial marriage. And for those opponents, it's still an emotional issue. You're not going to take the emotion away.

Framing this as a civil rights issue - which is what it is - is, in my belief, the only way to be successful.

"Be the change you wish to see in the world." - Gandhi

Gay Marriage and 08 Democratic Candidates

I suppose I should give credit to Edwards for not equivocating or dodging the dreaded "gay" question, like so many other Democrats do. As a gay man I am sick and tired of being the pink donkey in the room. The gay rights movement has come too far at this point to allow itself to be patronized and muzzled by Democrats that care more about their careers than standing up for what is right. Unfortunately none of the Dem 08 Prez contenders support marriage equality. Clearly, Feingold had a mammoth uphill challenge but having an on the record supporter of gay marriage in the early days of the campaign would have helped to create a dialogue amongst the group of real contenders. Other issues are important to me but judging on this alone, I see Hillary as the most openminded on gay rights compared to Obama and Edwards. These candidates are the top tier Democratic contenders. Right now. We know how fast things can change in politics...

In the wake of so many state

In the wake of so many state amendments that have passed, placing gay and lesbian families' rights in legal jeopardy, those running for office are obligated to get on the record. Merely stating one believes "marriage is between a man and a woman" or saying "let the states decide" will no longer fly.

Moderate Democrats in North Carolina have quietly kept a gay marriage ban off the ballot. The Republicans in NC really, really want to bring more attention to the issue because they know it will hurt Democrats politically.

I really, really think that progressives shouldn't play in the hands of Republicans by targeting moderate Democrats. They are, after all, keeping a marriage ban from happening.

It would be edifying to hear them come out loudly in support of full gay rights, but it would also result in disaster.

Keep in mind: there was a Prez candidate in '04 who wasn't bashful about his support for gay marriage. Dennis Kucinich. Yet his run wasn't nearly as significant for gay rights and progressive causes as the victory of Heath Shuler. Even though Shuler's district isn't ready for gay marriage, they also won't be gay baited any time soon either and the Democratic majority has elevated the power the Democrats to advance gay rights.

The perfect is an enemy of the good.

----------

"Repealing the estate tax is like choosing the 2020 Olympic team by picking the eldest sons of the gold-medal winners in the 2000 Olympics". - Warren Buffett

"Repealing the estate tax is like choosing the 2020 Olympic team by picking the eldest sons of the gold-medal winners in the 2000 Olympics". - Warren Buffett

I understand what you're saying about politics and all...

...and how some issues can hurt candidates. I still say that a liberal, progressive Democrat, I cannot keep silent about this issue. It *is* important; the civil rights of millions of Americans is important. Your post implies that they should keep waiting. Still. 'Just keep waiting. Maybe next time. We're not ready for you. Sorry.'

While that may be politically expedient, to me it is ethically challenging, and not a position that I can support. That doesn't mean that I support "going after" candidates who haven't come to grips with an idea with which they are not comfortable. They're not ever going to get comfortable if they are not given the opportunity to hear from those of us who care about the issue and how deeply it affects the lives of families.

I can understand Edwards saying "I'm not there yet." That is an honest answer. His supporters who ARE there can help him get there by speaking out, by showing him that he won't loose support by standing up for civil rights.

"Be the change you wish to see in the world." - Gandhi

precisely

His supporters who ARE there can help him get there by speaking out

That's the point. Without discussion, Dem pols cannot move forward, and even worse, it allows the Right to shape the debate as they have in the past.

For gays who have volunteered and served as ATMs for candidates who then produce no results for the community, it's time to demand dialogue out in the open, not hidden for political expediency.

It's a false choice to say that merely engaging in the debate itself is damaging to the candidate. That's what I'm hearing from a lot of these queasy Dems that have no problem keeping patting gays on the head and promising action once in office. The equality gains that have been made have largely been in the corporate sphere (which understands the value of LGBT employees, and consumers), not by elected officials.

--
Pam Spaulding
Durham, NC USA

Pam's House Blend
www.pamshouseblend.com

--
Pam Spaulding
Durham, NC USA

Pam's House Blend
www.pamshouseblend.com

Thanks Pam and Mike in Texas

The letter from Mike in Texas to John Edwards is wonderful. We need to find out exactly where Sen. Edwards stands on all issues now. I blogged about it stating my opinion. So should you.

Dems have got to get together on this one ASAP. Bickering about scaring moderate and conservative Dems as playing into Republican hands is silly! Going moderate will loose the 2008 presidential election for the Dems. I think the National Dem party must unify much more left to create a REAL contrast to the choice of voting Republican. (moving to their right base won the white house for the Republicans.) I know its more complicated than that, but I think really getting back to our left grassroots is a PRACTICAL winning combo in 2008.

My thoughts...

This dialog was so positively brilliant that it makes me proud to be associated with such a community. I can appreciate Sen. Edwards discomfort when he admitted ruefully that "he just isn't there yet," when it comes to the issue of gay marriage, or presumably the equality of civil unions. I'm willing to believe that his position on this issue is candid, personal, and not an effort at political expediency.

However, in the time that's passed since the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court forced the hand of the legislature on this issue, gay people have been the victims of an effort to back up the calendar so that now, legally, they might as well be in the 19th century. They're in a somewhat analogous position to what it would have been like if the Birmingham bus boycott had been followed by constitutional amendments across the nation that enforced racial segregation.

I'm a shirt tail relative of Lyndon Johnson. And the truth is that when LBJ stepped forward and pushed civil rights he also wasn't entirely "there" yet. If Linda Bird had announced to the old man that she had fallen in love with a black man he would have had a heart attack. After all, he was from Texas and he was a Baptist.

However, in his role as President he was able to set aside those feelings that he knew had more to do with upbringing and Southern culture than they did with the promise of the American Constitution. He did what he was uncomfortable doing because he knew it followed logically from the constitution, even if it would cost him politically, and "give the South to the Republicans for a generation."

I hear Pam just ask for politicians to shoot straight about their bigotry, and I feel ashamed. Have we become such a pale imitation of the heroes of the past that just being candid about bigotry is worthy of respect?

I'm 56 years old. I moved to North Carolina five years ago. The previous twenty-five years I spent as a resident of Chicago's north shore and before that Wisconsin, Utah and California. I live in Moore County. My Congressman is Howard Coble, my State Sen

Honesty

I hear Pam just ask for politicians to shoot straight about their bigotry, and I feel ashamed. Have we become such a pale imitation of the heroes of the past that just being candid about bigotry is worthy of respect?

Certainly honesty is worthy of respect. If Edwards' campaign is truly as people powered as I believe it to be, this won't be swept under the carpet, and it won't be the last we hear from him on it.

Sidebar: Isn't it odd that the word "candid" is contained in the word "candidate"? Do you suppose that at one time there was a relationship there?

"Be the change you wish to see in the world." - Gandhi

Candid

Great observation, Linda.

Candid ate.

I think

that if this is presented as calmly as possible as a civil right that affects entire families, Senator Edwards and other Democratic leaders will find themselves more comfortable with the idea of supporting civil marriage. If we learn anything fom the success of GWB, it should be that the language you use is everything. By setting this apart as "gay marriage", you play into the Rovian hands of the reactionaries. But no one can be against civil rights, and no on can be faulted for being against civil rights. Language is the frame work that guides our thought. Give Edwards the right framework, the right structure for this issue, and he will come up on the right side of it, of that I am sure. This is not a man to deny civil rights - to any one. (I sure hope he answers Mike in Texas' letter.)

"Be the change you wish to see in the world." - Gandhi