By Staff Writer Jake Hunsinger
Former President George W Bush and Ellen DeGeneres are friends. And they should be! If they enjoy each other’s company then they should be. It should be that simple. It was that simple for a very long time! Be that as it may, it seems that the general public has decided that it is deeper than that, and that these aren’t only two people who decided to enjoy a baseball game together. Ellen DeGeneres felt compelled to address the controversy on her daytime television show, calling for understanding and stating that “people who disagree can be friends.”
It seems that this doesn’t apply when it comes to George W Bush. A social conservative, the Bush administration fought to amend the United States Constitution to include the Federal Marriage Amendment(FMA), despite Vice President Dick Cheney’s daughter being a public lesbian. Marriage Equality was left up to the states since the passage of the Defense of Marriage Act(DOMA) in 1996, signed by Bill Clinton and (MA was designed build on that and if ratified, marriage would be constitutionally defined as a union between a man and a woman. Thankfully, the FMA failed to pass. The last time the FMA received a vote was in 2006, and it died in the Senate at 49-48 votes. 11 votes short of even being considered as a possible amendment in the body and 19 votes short of being sent to states for ratification.
We have come a long way since 2006, thankfully. 2/3rds of all Americans approve of same sex marriage and Marriage Equality is the law of the land as of 2015. Things are getting better. George W Bush has not been able to hinder or deny LGBTQ+ people any right. Whether or not he is still against Marriage Equality is up to him. Ellen DeGeneres, a lesbian and widely considered an LGBTQ+ icon, doesn’t seem to mind. This is where things get even trickier.
Critics are quick to point out that despite Ellen DeGeneres’s place in the LGBTQ+ community, she is still cis-gendered, white, old, and rich. That puts her, as some view it, closer to George Bush and in direct opposition to the social movements of today that call for representation and protection of marginalized groups. That George Bush is an enemy to the people even though his private beliefs are now his own. He does not lead the crusade against Marriage Equality today. Today he largely spends his time with his wife and dogs, paint pictures of and for veterans as a hobby, and frequents baseball games.
A decade ago, the fight for Marriage Equality was based around acceptance of people for who they are and that love is love, and people are people. Now it seems that there are those engaged the same social movements who are much more keen to point out what other people, even proponents and allies, are not.
I am not LGBTQ+, so I cannot decide who is an ally and who isn’t. My support and advocation for Marriage Equality and LGBTQ+ rights and social acceptance are based on my beliefs alone and not my place in any community. But from the outside looking in, it seems that Ellen, who was and hopefully still is, an icon in the community and to the rest of the nation, is now being put up against an impossible purity test. A test designed by the younger generation who hold the gift of hindsight and the curse of harsh reaction in both hands. There are also those who believe Ellen’s friendship with George W Bush is questionable due to the Iraq War and the policies he implemented or pursued during his tenure as President. Again, I point to the gift of hindsight and how often we as a generation like to get mad at things that happened instead of working to prevent things from happening. Whether or not George W Bush is responsible for war crimes is up to you and legal scholars. That’s not the point of this.
The point is whether or not Ellen DeGeneres and George W Bush can be friends, or rather should they be friends. I believe that we as people are not our worst action or our nastiest belief. I believe that people can change. I believe that we as a generation are suffering from a bad case of moral superiority. If Ellen DeGeneres and George W Bush’s friends, then that’s their business.