I wasn’t very excited or happy or relieved that Obama came out in support of marriage equality. I’m inclined to believe he’s always supported it, but whatever his true feelings actually are, he makes these statements for political reasons. He’s either pushing as much of his personal agenda as he thinks he can get away with at a given time, or he’s saying what he thinks will get him re-elected. Either way, he is lying to us, every minute of every day, spinning reality to fit politics.
You say your views have “evolved,” but I call bullshit. I think the political climate has evolved, and it’s hard to watch the media circus without seeing that.
And yet it’s remarkably easy to swallow these reservations and hope that they mean my own personal politics will get advanced. I’m truly, genuinely happy that this means a more equal world. But it’s remarkable to observe the deceit we tolerate when it moves a situation in our favor.
EDIT 5/10: Most of what I say is not prescriptive. I think in general that practical decisions must be made pragmatically as part of a holistic approach, and opinion pieces tend to arise from dogma that should be considered only as part of a greater whole. Also, it’s easy to use “the president” as a metonym for “the system” and quite important to be clear about the distinction. My frustration is with the system that requires such maneuvers, not this one particularly brave actor within that system, who I do commend in this case. Even while I call bullshit.
Thanks to Rick Bettan’s Facebook post for inspiring me to clarify:
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I think the following qualifies as a rant, but I’m not deleting any of it, because I think it’s so important. To my friends now Monday-morning quarterbacking President Obama’s announcement of his support for Marriage Equality, especially my gay friends, get a grip. Seriously. Whether this was a “calculated political move,” “a few years too late,” “incomplete because he still says states should be permitted to decide,” or “not enough because it’s merely symbolic,” I, for one, don’t care. I’m frankly astonished to see people, very smart people, attacking the President for doing something that is so inherently right and good. Our generation has such a short collective memory, and we are so used to things moving at lightning speed, that it’s hard for people to wrap their minds around how quickly this issue has advanced. It was only in 1997, 15 years ago, that Ellen Degeneres first came out. Prior to that, there were no major primetime stars (or leading characters) who were gay. It was hugely controvertial. It was only in 2003 that the Supreme Court handed down Lawrence v. Texas, affirming a right to intimate association that extended to same-sex sexual conduct. And even then, marriage was simply a non-starter politically. NO major Presidential candidate has ever supported marriage equality. Now, no Democratic Presidential candidate will be able to do anything but support it. As for the argument that this is merely a symbolic move, tell that to the 13 year old in Kansas who is struggling to come out, or worse, is contemplating suicide, who now can say “wow, the President of the United States values me and thinks my relationships are worth something.” Symbolism is meaningful. That’s why it’s called symbolism! And sure, perhaps this is a calculated political move. Maybe, as one friend (who I’ve never disagreed with so adamently, or even at all, before) has bitterly pointed out, maybe the President has supported marriage equality all along but felt constrained not to voice his support in the past. Well, if that’s the case, thank g-d for that, because if he had voiced that support before being elected, we wouldn’t now have a sitting President supporting marriage equality; we’d have John McCain, with Sarah Palin a heartbeat away. Moreover, even now the President’s support on this issue is still a risk. The first polls showing a bare majority of support for marriage equality have only happened in the last year – and those polls are national polls that do not reflect support in the states the President needs to win in November. He may not be out in front of YOUR opinion, or even liberal opinion, but he is out in front of national opinion on this. Calculated or not, this was a true risk, and the President may be punished for being true to his beliefs in November. So here’s my message: back the eff off! Reflect on what this man has done for our community. Get your mind out of Hell’s Kitchen and try to consider what this means to gay people in red states. Most of all, GIVE to his campaign to help counteract the negative impact this will surely have. Thank you for reading.