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Fulton Files 

Fulton’s Quarter Column of Plaza-Free Rants

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Everyone knows that Christmas is simply a weigh-station for America’s commercial and stock-market appetite. We’re better off getting our political chops in shape. And next year’s legislative session promises to be a whopper, with lots of white-hot debate about late-term abortion.

Yes, it’s the eternal hope of most rational people that this most tortured of all issues might one day silently fade. But nope. We are in Utah. Or, as the bumper sticker reads, “Urine in Utah!”

And what would Zion be without yet another perennial debate, this time about gay marriage?

Funny how conservatives love to paint gays and lesbians as the enemy of all that’s decent and American when, basically, what so many of these people want is the chance to marry, raise children, pay taxes and join the armed services.

Funny, too, how Utah’s biggest religious institution turns so white with fear it will pour vast fortunes into political campaigns to stop gay marriage before it starts. Richard G. Wilkins, law professor and managing director of the World Family Policy at BYU, led the charge with more ridiculous rhetoric in a recent Sunday Tribune editorial titled “Why America Needs the Marriage Amendment.”

As Wilkins so boldly put it: “There is an unquestionable relationship between marriage, procreation and child rearing, and the strength of a nation.”

Sounds formidable. But what does he mean by “strength”? Surely he’s not referring to the quality of his argument. The Islamic Republic of Pakistan has a literacy rate of 46 percent, a life expectancy of 60 and a per capita income of $470. It’s safe to say they don’t allow gay marriage. Saudi Arabia has a literacy rate of 77 percent, life expectancy of 71 and a per capita income of $6,900. You can bet they don’t allow gay marriage. Meanwhile, the Netherlands formally legalized gay marriage in the summer of 2001. That country has a literacy rate of 99 percent, life expectancy of 77 and a per capita income of $24,900. And where, we ask, does Wilkins like to take his summer vacations? The man must really hate tulips.

• Republican alert: The Associated Press reported that the American Civil Liberties Union gained 50,000 new dues-paying members after 9/11. People worry about the preservation of our freedoms. This alarming trend will no doubt be the first item on the agenda of our new, very Soviet-sounding, Office of Homeland Security.

• Perhaps the UFO phenomenon is a cultural divide. With the recent release of Great Britain’s formerly restricted “Rendlesham File,” we learn how U.S. Air Force patrolmen caught site of “unusual lights” near an air base in eastern England 20 years ago. Reserved as usual, the British dismissed the report, then poured a cup of tea. Perhaps it’s because the “phenomenon” of British crop circles was easily debunked years ago. Only Yanks freak out over this. But if it weren’t for the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, which opened the file, perhaps the whole United Kingdom would have by now been sucked into a UFO.

• Utah isn’t all backwater tongue-clucking. The New York Times published a Dec. 1 piece on the progressive ways of teaching foreign relations at Orem’s Lakeridge Junior High School. There students are encouraged to debate the merits of war with Iraq. “Not since the Vietnam War, it seems, have young people been so engaged in America’s foreign policy,” wrote Lynnette Clemetson. Yes folks, hope springs eternal.

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