WILL MITT ROMNEY TRY TO OUTLAW GAY PARENTHOOD? I'm sure he won't. (Although I'm not so sure he wouldn't try if he thought he could.) Which is what makes his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday a prime example of political hypocrisy, even by his low standards.
During his opening statement, he said this:
But marriage is not solely for adults. Marriage is also for children. In fact, marriage is principally for the nurturing and development of children. The children of America have the right to have a father and a mother.
Of course, even today, circumstances can take a parent from the home, but the child still has a mother and a father. If the parents are divorced, the child can visit each of them. If a mother or father is deceased, the child can learn about the qualities of the departed. His or her psychological development can still be influenced by the contrasting features of both genders.
Are we ready to usher in a society indifferent about having fathers and mothers? Will our children be indifferent about having a mother and a father?
But we already live in a society that is pretty much indifferent about having fathers and mothers, do we not? Single women choose to have kids. Gay and lesbian couples choose to have kids. For that matter, single women and gay couples sometimes adopt kids, suggesting not just indifference on the part of society but, rather, active participation. Would Romney stop any of this? Of course he wouldn't. (Again, maybe he would if he could.)
A few moments later, Romney said:
Scientific studies of children raised by same sex couples are almost non-existent. And the societal implications and effects on these children are not likely to be observed for at least a generation, probably several generations. Same sex marriage doesn't hurt my marriage, or yours. But it may affect the development of children and thereby future society as a whole. Until we understand the implications for human development of a different definition of marriage, I believe we should preserve that which has endured over thousands of years.
Preserving the definition of marriage should not infringe on the right of individuals to live in the manner of their choosing. One person may choose to live as a single, even to have and raise her own child. Others may choose to live in same sex partnerships or civil arrangements. There is an unshakeable majority of opinion in this country that we should cherish and protect individual rights with tolerance and understanding.
But there is a difference between individual rights and marriage. An individual has rights, but a man and a woman together have a marriage. We should not deconstruct marriage simply to make a statement about the rights of individual adults. Forcing marriage to mean all things, will ultimately define marriage to mean nothing at all.
I highlighted the part where the governor acknowledges that same-sex marriage doesn't hurt anyone else's marriage, and I'm glad to learn that he won't be sporting a "Protect Ma and Pa" button anytime soon. But again, the hypocrisy here isn't even hidden - it's shimmering right on the surface.
Marriage is about children. We don't know what the effects may be of raising children in gay and lesbian households. So we shouldn't rush into this. But Governor - much of what the legal definition of civil marriage is all about is making it easier to raise children. Tax incentives. Rights of inheritance. Joint medical insurance. And on and on.
Today's best take is by the Boston Globe's Scot Lehigh, who observes that Romney appears to be running against his own state in order to advance his fevered national ambitions. Lehigh writes, "Can Romney be an effective governor by continually taking on the culture and candidate of the state he leads? Or will Massachusetts voters eventually grow tired of watching their chief executive raise his national profile at the state's expense?"
AGAIN. I hope we're not getting inured to the horror of terrorist beheadings in the Middle East. Somehow, yesterday's execution of Kim Sun Il by terrorists allegedly tied to Abu Musab Zarqawi (who is believed to have personally beheaded Nicholas Berg) didn't seem like as big a story as it should have.
The danger is that each decapitation - of Daniel Pearl, of Berg, of Paul Johnson, and now of Kim - will make us progressively numb to the horror of what's taking place. We should remember each victim. You don't have to support George W. Bush misadventure in Iraq to acknowledge that these men gave their lives in the war against terrorism.
ZZZZZ. Right-wing journalist Mark Steyn hits me where it hurts. He's linked to my less-than-flattering profile of him, and adds this commentary: "Warning: May cause drowsiness. Do not attempt to read before operating a motor vehicle or heavy machinery." Oof!
MEDIA LOG ON THE AIR. Tune in to WRKO Radio (AM 680) this Saturday from 7 to 10 p.m. I'll be hosting Counterpoint, the station's liberal alternative to its 165 weekly hours of conservative and right-wing talk.