While the Supreme Court ruminates on the constitutional issues of the Defense of Marriage Act, can we take a moment to acknowledge the stinking hypocrisy of the thing? Can we remember the (mostly) men who passed it through Congress and made it the law of the land, and what contemptible, laughably phony jackasses they were?
Rep. Bob Barr was on his third marriage when he first sponsored the bill. As CNN reports, his second wife repeatedly accused him of having an affair during divorce proceedings, and Barr did not deny it. The bill went to the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Henry Hyde, who would later publicly admit he had cheated on his wife, calling the matter a "youthful indiscretion," even though the affair happened in his forties. It passed the House under the leadership of Newt Gingrich, who was cheating on his second wife at the time. Around the same period, according to this woman, Gingrich told her about the infidelity and tried to get her to agree to an open marriage. The bill passed the Senate, whose president pro tem, Strom Thurmond, had an illegitimate daughter he didn't acknowledge because she was African American, and he was, of course, a racist. The bill was eventually signed by - wait for it, it's delicious - President Clinton. Yes, the people arguably most responsible for this bill have themselves treated marriage vows and family loyalties as optional.
It gets worse. One of the early supporters on the judiciary committee was entertainer turned politician Sonny Bono. He was on his fourth marriage at the time, and according to a Parade Magazine interview with his ex-wife Cher, he was repeatedly unfaithful:
"Stardom made Sonny a huge womanizer," Cher told Parade. "One woman, or even five, was not enough for him."
We're not even near done. Cross-indexing the yea votes in the House and Senate with a list of political sex scandals in the government is hilarious and depressing. Mark Foley, who quit the House after having inappropriate internet contact with an underage former page, voted for DOMA. At the time he was living as a closeted gay man, and refused to respond to rumors of his orientation. Bob Livingston, who almost became the next speaker before an affair derailed his career, also voted for it.
Other yes votes:
- Dan Burton, who had an affair and fathered a child out of wedlock.
- Helen Chenoweth, who acknowledged an affair with a married man.
- Gary Condit, who admitted to police he'd had an affair with former intern Chandra Levy as part of an investigation into her disappearance and death. (Condit was the subject of speculation, but authorities convicted someone else of Levy's murder.)
- Steve LaTourette, who cheated on his wife with a staffer.
This is old news, of course. As is the notion that lawmakers are two-faced. But it's important to put all these stories together to form a full picture of how thoroughly and ridiculously bogus the Defense of Marriage Act truly was and is.
These were bad people. If they came to your house, you'd count the silverware afterwards. The only reason they found themselves in the position to legislate the private lives of millions is that there have always been a sizeable chunk of Americans out there who are bigoted and narrow-minded enough to put them up to it. Those Americans, let's never forget, continue to cry out for public humiliation.
Yesterday at the conservative blog Red State, Erik Erikson wrote that "'gay marriage' and religious freedom are not compatible." That was a day after he announced that he still supports cheating social conservative Mark Sanford.
Sounds like some knuckleheads out there need to lose a few more elections. On behalf of everyone decent and honorable in this country, I say:
Bring it, bitches.