This week’s Hump Day Hmm is about values. This is timely due to the situation that Senator Craig from Idaho finds himself in. To be honest, I hadn’t heard of him at all until this all came about; partly because he’s from way out west, but also because he just doesn’t have that high of a profile in the Senate.
However, the question of his treatment in the media is certainly an interesting one. For years now, the Republicans have been campaigning as the supporters and defenders of “traditional” values. Because of this, you now have a situation where, if someone who is a Republican winds up in a situation like Senator Craig’s, they are completely vilified.
The closest comparison that I can draw is when the former Governor of New Jersey, Jim McGreevey (Democrat) came out of the closet a couple of years ago. When that happened, it was seen as a moment that should be celebrated, with him and his wife (they’re now separated however) appearing on various TV shows up and down the dial. The coverage couldn’t have been more different.
The discussion of values obviously goes beyond one’s sexual preference, into what you believe and what you tolerate. It used to be that you could have your own beliefs and values and have the right to belong to whatever groups you wanted to. Now, it seems that if you are part of one group, you must subscribe to all of that group’s beliefs.
Again, in the world of politics, it is considered to be almost taboo to be a pro-choice Republican or a pro-life Democrat. That doesn’t mean that there have been, are, and will be successful exceptions to the rule, but the chances of that happening are becoming slim. I am sure that if one of the exceptions made it to the running for a national office, they would have attack ad after attack ad questioning their “values”.
I personally feel that your values are yours alone; they should be influenced by your experiences and those of the people around you. They shouldn’t be dictated to you by a person you’ve never met, or by a sheet of paper handed to you when you sign up for something.
Another example is that all around the country, you’re seeing these votes come up to institute constitutional bans on same-sex marriages. In my state, we voted on it last November. I voted no because I didn’t think we needed to have a constitutional amendment to reinforce something that was already clear as day in the laws of our state.
However, the people who were saying to vote yes to this measure were saying that if you voted no, it would mean that the day after the election, you’d have people clamoring to get the laws of the state changed to allow same-sex marriage.
The bit that really tipped me off to voting no on this measure was that it was a very confusing and opened the door to preventing unmarried straight couples of having the same benefits as married couples (such as living trusts and will executorships, of which I’m not totally clear of the laws on, so I might not be qualified to talk about it ;)). This is the text of the amendment:
[Article XIII] Section 13. Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state. A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized in this state.
The second sentence is the part that created a lot of confusion. If you read it with the widest understanding, it could be conceived to block these benefits and privileges to all unmarried couples.
The really interesting thing is that although the polls were showing it was going to be a close fight, it passed comfortably at 60-40. Even though I was against the amendment, I can accept that it passed and that it is now part of our constitution. In fact, since the election, you haven’t heard anything further about this causing trouble for unmarried couples, so I guess you could almost say that it didn’t change anything, except reinforce the laws we already have.
Here’s where some people could get confounded by the fact I voted against it. I am to the right of center on the political spectrum. I believe that the government shouldn’t be getting in the way of personal business, and that they shouldn’t be forcing new regulations down our throats. I also believe that, when it comes to the “big” values question – abortion – there are a lot of choices that are made on the path to choosing whether or not to terminate a pregnancy. I don’t like the idea of aborting a pregnancy, but I do think that if the mother-to-be decides that it is best for her, for any reason, to end the pregnancy, she should have the right to do that.
I know it is a touchy subject, but if you wish to share your outlook on it, or on anything I’ve mentioned, please do so. 😉
Lastly, on the topic of exceptions to the rule, once again, The West Wing did this wonderfully with the election at the end of the series. They made the election between two pro-choice candidates, one a Republican from California and the other a Democrat from Texas. I don’t like to spoil the show for y’all, but if you have the chance, watch an episode from the final season called “The Al Smith Dinner” – it confronts the challenges of a pro-choice Republican running for national office.