When did civil liberties become a partisan issue?

The Arlington County Democratic Committee has overwhelmingly passed a resolution condemning the anti-gay, anti-single people Marshall-Newman amendment, stating in no uncertain terms that this despicable assault on our community belongs in the garbage.

Now we have, in the New York Times, the open admission that a new push for conservative religious leaders to create petition drives in support of the federal Constitutional amendment is just a cynical, partisan strategy to turn out otherwise demoralized voters.

Organizers of the petition said it was in part an effort to revive the groundswell of opposition to same-sex marriage that helped bring many conservative voters to the polls in some pivotal states in 2004.

In spite of polling data that demonstrates less than robust enthusiasm for this tired gay-bashing act, these campaign strategists are determined to create what doesn’t exist by demonizing GLBT families in our places of worship. How disgraceful.

Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, a gay advocacy group, said supporters of the amendment were out of touch. “We have a war raging in Iraq, we have a Gulf Coast that needs to be rebuilt, we have an economy barely hanging on,” he said. “The last thing America wants is this Republican-controlled Congress spending time writing discrimination into the Constitution.”

That would include the many fair-minded Republicans who are fed up with nonpartisan issues – like our efforts to provide basic security for our families – being turned into bashing campaigns that divide people and serve no pro-social purpose whatsoever.

If the only thing that makes the existence of our community a “partisan issue” is our presumed vulnerability for use as a punching bag and all around get-out-the-vote boogeyman, that’s pretty pathetic. Here’s a question: If the people behind this are not “pro-family,” and are not Republicans, what are they?

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