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'Whose Business Is It?'
Presidential campaign will put a spotlight on which issues are, or aren't, anybody else's business

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RICHARD AMRHINE
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Date published: 7/18/2004

HERE COME the national conventions. They used to have real meaning when the nomination wasn't already a done deal, or when the vice-presidential nominee was in doubt. These days, the networks know they won't be a ratings bonanza.

But you don't have to be a political junkie to pay attention to the conventions. Taking an interest in the course of the nation's political leadership may put you in the minority of Americans, but it doesn't necessarily make you a nerd.

If you can suffer through the repetitive partisan rhetoric and insightful network analysis of the convention hall decor, this year's festivities might provide some drama and nuggets of actual news.

So mark your calendar: The Democratic National Convention gets under way July 27 in Boston, and the GOP gathers Aug. 30 in New York.

With the conventions and the presidential election just around the corner, I've come up with a game that I call "Whose Business Is It?" The debate over many of today's hot-button issues is fueled by those who either want to stick their noses where they don't belong, or who would try to exclude noses from where they do belong. The best part about my new game is that I'm the host and the only contestant.

OK, here are today's politically charged categories: Gay marriage, stem-cell research, the right to die, school vouchers, the war in Iraq, and the environment.

That's quite a list, and I don't know if we can fit them all in one column, but we'll try.

All right, then. Gay marriage. Well, I'm sure that who marries whom is not my business, but President Bush thinks it's the Constitution's business to prevent two like-gendered people from getting married. He says it destroys "the sanctity of the family."

But it doesn't destroy the sanctity of my family, which is the only family that's my business. If two people want to get married, any two people, that's their business. How they choose to live is not relevant to how I choose to live.

President Bush has made it his business because gay marriage riles up social conservatives almost as much as abortion does, and diverts attention from his administration's many troubles.


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