Yesterday, President Obama said in an interview with ABC News that he thinks “same sex couples should be able to marry.” While this statement may seem to be as obvious as saying “the sky is blue” or “the sun rises in the east,” it nonetheless stands out because it hasn’t been said by an American president before. Obama continued to explain why it’s taken so long for him to come up with this truth we otherwise hold to be self-evident. He contextualized the idea by generation, saying that his children’s friends have same-sex parents, and it wouldn’t dawn on them that they would be treated any differently. This is interesting, since it provides a ready glide-path to allow anti-gay marriage people to change their minds gracefully. As in actually change their minds. This seems to be a practical approach. I happen to disagree.
Sometimes, people need to be slapped in the face. Snap out of it, and stop dragging those knuckles on the ground. Up until this point in time, the Obama administration’s messaging point on gay marriage what this it was evolving. This had a very Don’t Ask Don’t Tell flavor, of trying to pacify both sides of the aisle, and truly satisfying neither. But just enough to keep everyone voting for you. Now that Obama has come out so to speak, seemingly late in the debate, the response at least on my Facebook News Feed has been mostly annoyance from liberal-minded folks. Myself included, sharing the administration’s meme-friendly quote-pic with the caption, “Well it’s about time.”
Setting aside my own hubris of quoting myself to make a point, this is a perfect example of silence validating the status quo. Obama has always been a Centrist, and we often heaped our liberal hopes upon his shoulders, but they frequently fell away to practical concerns. And yet he is the most influential person in America. Even more than Oprah Winfrey. His silence was more damning than the harebrained petitions floating around from churchy, Floridian crackpot groups. If we must be the change we wish to see in the world, the President is best-positioned to be the change and have it modeled by others. Well, we now have this essential first step, in changing a status quo that is completely out of step with what is right.
And yes this is about right and wrong. This is a universal ethical standard. It’s not something that was acceptable in the past, and we can condone the pervasive anti-gay mentality, just because it’s what everyone else was doing. It was never acceptable in an absolute sense. There are many things that are vestigial to us as a so-called civilization, that were never okay, and this is a huge one that still exists today. We can’t shake our heads at our ancestors who denied women the vote, the right to own property, denied basic human rights to people of the wrong skin color, and say, well, the time just isn’t right for gay marriage. No. Doesn’t work. Stand up and say something.
And enough with the glide paths. There’s no need to respect our elders when they’re wrong. Granted they’re the ones who actually vote, so I get the whole political expediency question, but we don’t deserve this process. The state by state piecemeal approach doesn’t seem to conform with equal treatment under the law either. We can’t just shrug our shoulders and say, “the world is thus.” This is a civil rights issue. This is a human rights issue. Our nation should be doing the right thing as one nation. Isn’t that what the Constitution is for? Isn’t that what the Bill of Rights is for? Isn’t that what Constitutional Amendments are for? Enough with the glide paths. Let’s take the direct path. Perhaps then we won’t be quite so embarrassed by our record when the aliens come.
SF: I really have no idea why the government spends time regulating marriage to begin with — particularly drawing lines between people. I find it enormously embarrassing that we haven’t learned any of the lessons of our past. Discrimination has never moved the interests of this nation forward. In fact, it has often been the source of some of the darkest and most difficult times in our history. Sigh.
Also, I’m sick of the morality politics. We have enormous structural issues to consider right now — our infrastructure is outdated, our employment rate is sky high, Europe is in tatters, we’ve got an underfunded social security net. Yet somehow we’re spending our time discriminating against minority groups. I’m glad people have beliefs; it gives them a grounding and a direction. But the insistence on subjecting others to these beliefs is the height of arrogance.
I hate wedge politics, but gay marriage is one of the few areas that can shift my vote.