[why it matters]

Yet another reason why no set of contractual agreements can substitute for the legal protections of marriage:

[Rosie] O’Donnell said she decided to marry [long-time parnter Kelli] Carpenter, a former dancer and marketing director at Nickelodeon, during her recent trial in New York over the now-defunct Rosie magazine.

“We applied for spousal privilege and were denied it by the state. As a result, everything that I said to Kelli, every letter that I wrote her, every e-mail, every correspondence and conversation was entered into the record,” O’Donnell said. “After the trial, I am now and will forever be a total proponent of gay marriage.”

Rosie O’Donnell to Marry Girlfriend [Yahoo/AP]

[he’s gone and done it]

A lot of people seemed surprised when the president of the United States declared today that he is backing a constitutional amendment to define marriage as between a man and a woman. But no one should be surprised. This is not a president who concerns himself with individual rights, and this is not an administration that wastes time on empathy for those whose views it does not share. Should we be shocked to learn that the administration that insisted on taking the White House despite losing the general election, then gave us the Patriot Act, the Guantanamo imprisonments, and perhaps 15,000 Iraqi dead, is now looking to enshrine discrimination in the Constitution?

For a lot of people, gay marriage is not an easy issue. I have a hard time understanding why, but I recognize that many Americans are deeply uncomfortable with the extension of the term “marriage” to homosexual unions, even when they are willing to countenance civil unions that provide the same rights. Americans were also uncomfortable with miscegenation, but we now recognize that the laws prohibiting interracial marriage were wrong and immoral.

Some argue that this is different — that while race is inescapable, there is nothing that requires an individual to enter into a homosexual union. But there was never anything that required people to enter into interracial unions, either — nothing but love and individual desire and the sacred right of each person to decide for herself when she has found the person she wants to marry and share her life with.

As with the random imprisonment of Arab-Americans and legal Arab visitors, as with the Patriot Act’s provisions for spying and harrassment, as with so much that this president has done, what we have here is a struggle between collective squeamishness and individual freedom. And as usual, George Bush Jr. has come down in favor of fomenting mass nervousness at the expense of personal rights.

Why would anyone expect any better?