The fuss about George Bush attemping to ban gay marriage with a Constitutional amendment saddens and disgusts me on multiple levels.

Bush is only making noise about it to deflect discussion of more pressing, damaging issues that could undermine his re-election campaign (note the timing of his amendment announcement on the same day as the grilling of the director of the CIA on Iraqi intelligence). Even worse, he is turning a personal issue into a political one. Notice how Dick Cheney doesn’t say a word about gay marriage since his family’s opinion would undermine the election campaign. I suspect that deep down Cheney thinks the issue is none of his boss’s business.

Worst of all, though, is how Bush wishes to insert a restrictive clause into a set of Constitutional amendments that for the past two centuries has increased personal freedoms, not diminished them. He aims to place marriage in a straitjacket alongside a long list of proud American freedoms. (This Metafilter post nicely frames the amendments: “20 out of 27 deal directly with giving people more rights and only one [prohibition, later repealed] took away rights. If passed, 28 would be the only standing amendment to limit rights of citizens.”)

What happened in San Francisco last week, with thousands of gay and lesbian couples lining up for legal marriages, will someday be hailed as a watershed moment in American liberties, much like Susan B. Anthony’s work and Rosa Parks’s stand before them. Women and minorities had to fight for decades against persecution, prejudice and political rhetoric before making their way into a (mostly) equal and accepting society. Homosexuality, sadly, is going to have the same fight.

Thirty years from now we will look back at this era and wonder how so much of the country was so stubborn and wrong. In the meantime, one can only shake one’s head and hope wiser judgment prevails against fear and intimidation.