Thursday, March 04, 2004

Republican party: anti-gay yes, but also anti-adoption?

NYT: Senate Hears Testimony on a Gay Marriage Amendment
Lawmakers and other supporters of the proposed amendment disputed the notion that it amounted to discrimination and said that accusation was offensive. They said their goal was to place in the Constitution a recognition of the traditional view of marriage and family.

"Children are raised expecting to have a biological mother and father," said the Rev. Richard Richardson, president of a child welfare agency in Boston and a leader of the Black Ministerial Alliance of Greater Boston. "It is not just society — it is biology, it is basic human instinct."

When John McCain ran for the 2000 republican presidential nomination in South Carolina, his daughter appeared beside him. She was born in Bangladesh and was adopted by McCains. The usual story is that he lost that race in part because of a Rove-inspired push poll that alleged his daughter was an illegitimate offspring of a liaison with a black woman. (Since it was widely understood in South Carolina that this was true of Strom Thurmond it may have had some superficial credibility.) I wonder, however, if the voters were really that uninformed. I wonder if they knew his daughter was adopted -- and perhaps that was the real problem for them.

Now, in the context of the anti-gay amendment, some of these sentiments are leaking out. Reverend Richardson, I suspect, is only speaking plainly what many socially conservative Republicans believe. Like tribalists everwhere they may find the concept of adoption profoundly unsettling -- particularly intraethnic adoption.

Child bearing and raising is undoubtedly the true tender issue in discussions of gay marriage. It's arguably a winning issue for Republicans ... but it has risk for them too. It will be hard to keep the message from straying into an attack on adoption by heterosexual couples. Many of those couples might vote Republican, but not if their family comes under attack.

Rove may not like how this goes.

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