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When the going gets tough, the tough get going… after gay families. And the “tough” aren’t actually tough, but are hoping to appear so by taking a swing at this “family values” crowd pleaser.
On June 26th, the Bush administration threatened to veto the D.C. appropriations bill (which basically means federal funds for D.C.) over the District’s domestic partner registry. You see, for years the appropriation bill has included language that specifically spelled out the federal government’s refusal to hand over even one measly cent to support the registry. It was a moot point since no federal dollars are spent on the registry anyway. Still, it gave the Bush administration another chance to give a one-finger salute to gay and lesbian families.
Well, this time around that language was removed by some fair-minded – read: sane – committee members putting Bush into a veto-threatening frenzy.
“The administration strongly opposes the bill’s exclusion of a longstanding provision that disallows the use of federal funds to register unmarried, cohabitating couples in the district, to enable them to qualify for benefits on the same basis as legally married couples,” the June 26th statement reads. “Under federal law, legal marriage is the union between a man and a woman. Federal tax dollars are not used to extend employment benefits to domestic partners of federal employees, and D.C. should not enjoy an exception to this rule. If the final version of H.R. 2829 does not include this longstanding provision, the president’s senior advisors would recommend he veto the bill.”
The response from gay rights groups was swift, as one might expect. “With his popularity at an all-time low, this president has yet again dipped his cup into the well of anti-gay bigotry,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “The anti-gay zeal of this administration has reached a new low.”
More interesting, however, was the quick response by two Democratic candidates for president, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson and Senator Chris Dodd. Both had statements on their campaign Web sites the next day.
“Let’s be clear: this threatened veto is a veto of human rights and basic civil protections,” said Richardson. “The President says that he is the ‘decider.’ With this veto threat, he has once again decided to support the forces of intolerance. This bill is not radical and should not be controversial. It simply extends basic rights that most Americans already enjoy … to committed domestic partnerships.”
“The District of Columbia’s domestic partner registry provides an important service by allowing loving, committed partners basic rights like the right to hospital visitation and inheritance,” said Dodd. “I find it incredible that this President, who ran on a platform of compassionate conservatism, would refuse to allow someone the chance to visit their dying loved one simply because of their sexual orientation.”
But John Aravosis put it best on America Blog, which Dodd included a link to from his site: “It’s time for Dick and Lynne to prove whether they love their new grandson or not.”