Why are people blaming President Obama for same-sex marriage hurdles?

9 May

In the past, I’ve debated in online communities the importance of keeping focus of legal and social progress without the constant need for validation or concession from the president or anyone else. One of those communities was Daily Kos, a site I first learned of during the 2008 presidential election. This was how I approached it: instead of being angry that not everyone agrees with you or is as vocal as you, I argued, why not recognize allies that work to expand and protect your rights, even if it’s done without fanfare? Why not let yourselves shine without waiting for cover from the president?

I think, in retrospect, that I failed to take into account what was driving some of the outright slander of the president from the political left at that point: 1. the sense of entitlement and superiority over anyone who thinks differently, and 2. the underlying prejudice  against /distrust of a Black man in power and his potential (in their minds) to influence other Black people throughout the nation.  And as a result, African Americans continue to be slandered as the ignorant, monolithic, “bigoted” blockers of gay rights. All 13% of us. The irony is that by doing this, the left is using the very play book that the anti-gay groups laid out for victory-  using gay marriage as a wedge issue to divide people of color and LGBT groups, and people of faith and LGBT groups, tearing apart the Democrats’ broad coalition. Like most of my diaries at that site, it was generally scoffed at as “apologist”. Of course, that  crowd completely missed the lessons of the Civil Rights Movement while also trying to co-opt it AND simultaneously re-brand Black leaders as “the New Jim Crow” (Yes, that phrase was promoted at the “progressive” website Daily Kos in 2010.)

Ultimately, the reason that voter-backed social amendments fail is because they are based on emotion and social prejudice, and the assumption that people will educate themselves on YOUR issues. Not true. You have to educate them! You have to organize and do the work!  And you can’t expect a population  that you constantly dismiss as unworthy (ie, “The South”) to turn around and evolve into the open minded people you want them to be, without outreach.

But in the end, you cannot force change into a person’s heart. You cannot force change into a person’s mind.  And legal changes regarding rights should not be based on what makes people “comfortable.”  Such laws should always be based on constitutional civil rights.

The pastor in this video was 100% correct. Why are groups trying to make this into a referendum on the idea of the institution of gay marriage? Why, for the 30th time (most recently in North Carolina), is a legal amendment that directly affects people’s rights as citizens, being handed over to the general public who may or may not be versed in constitutional rights, and may or may not care either way? This is what the legislative branch is for. The state fails for putting this on the ballot. My home state of California also failed.

But back to the president. Here’s the most important fact: The Obama Administration has been working consistently, often quietly, to advance the rights of the LBGT community since day one. That is what should be important, not whether Barack Obama likes the idea of gay marriage. Actions, not words- that’s what we keep hearing. Well, look at the actions.



That all being said…

People trying to paint President Obama as homophobic are either ignorant or lying. And frankly, anyone who believes he doesn’t support gay marriage because he hasn’t come out and said the magic words, in this order: “I personally believe in gay marriage,” doesn’t want to look at the facts behind the sometimes cryptic statements coming from the White House.  No, I don’t believe that President Obama “struggles” with this issue, at least not on a ethical level. I’m not arrogant enough to claim to be able to read someone else’s heart or thoughts, but there’s just no logical reason to believe it, based on his own actions. Let’s forget for a moment that Barack Obama “unequivocally” supported gay marriage in 1996, in a hand-typed letter, at the dawn of his political career, at a time when he was already married and had already accepted his particular path of Faith. We cannot forget that in his first press conference as president-elect, he says boldly that anyone that knows him knows that he has always been a “fierce advocate” for gay rights, and that he has shown and proved since then.

I don’t think the president is afraid of consequences that may come if he makes clear what has been apparent to anyone paying attention. He doesn’t need anyone to explain away why he “can’t” do something because republicans will react. (Some tried to explain away why he hadn’t talked about Trayvon Martin, because at the time he didn’t do it when THEY wanted him to. Yet he eventually offered one of the most poignant statements on the tragedy).  I don’t even think it’s about playing politics or being concerned about losing votes.  I think he is trying to gracefully back out of an awkward situation. I think that while he was running for national office, he painted himself into a philosophical corner. Now, he’s maneuvering back into the middle of the room in a way where he won’t risk being called a flip-flopper or a man of wavering values (hence the “evolving”).  Like so many issues we’ve seen in this presidency, to blindly attack him as he moves is like screaming at a man trying to diffuse a bomb, yelling out at him what cord he should cut, and telling him that the place is about to blow up and it will be all his fault (because everyone is a genius bomb expert in their own mind).

And with THAT all being said…

I predict President Obama will eventually come out in full support of same-sex Marriage. It may very well be this term, before the election.  If and when that day comes, his formal announcement of his support for gay marriage, as president, on a national level, may offer the opportunity to bring aboard a lot of people who do support him- or at least, respect him- who may be holding out support of SSM form a number of reasons. And this will happen not because they blindly follow PBO, but because they see in him as a respectable and loving model for marriage and family. Obama is also a model of moderation and critical thinking.  (regardless if the disinformation that pervades conservativism and the media). Could this highly-telegraphed dance be a way to gently guide more people toward the idea of marriage equality? We’ll see.

Whether you recognize it or not, President Obama and his administration are laying the groundwork to make SSM a reality. Give him the room to maneuver, and do your part to move the agenda forward.

***Just my long-winded $0.02***


Update, more than three years later, August 2015… Allow me to toot my own horn, re my prediction. 😉  And look at how much had changed since then.


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