I don’t know if President Obama’s announcement today that he personally supports the right of same sex couples to marry will help or hurt him electorally, but from my point of view, it is absolutely the right call. And I’m not gay.
Glenn Greenwald, who is, credits Obama’s actions, regardless of their motivation. I agree.
The phony, dodgy political convenience that politicians hide behind, playing coy with the electorate about their beliefs on an issue for ‘tactical’ reasons — or worse, the awful ‘tell me what you want me to say I believe’ inauthenticity — weakens the ‘House of Representatives’ system in my view. It weakens us all.
I remember then-Wellington Central MP Fran Wilde, my next door neighbour at the time, courageously spearheading the Homosexual Law Reform campaign where her opponents — ‘god-fearing social conservatives’ and supposedly ‘upright citizens’ — threw all sorts of despicable smears. It was awful. Displaying hateful intolerance, they acted hysterically, obnoxiously, outrageously … shoving in as many references to sodomy as they could muster in their desperate attempts to
stop keep someone’s sexual orientation being, in effect, a crime.
Laws that had oppressed others and covered up hateful, truly criminal behaviour like ‘poofter-bashing’ in New Zealand for generations, were viewed as some sort of last bulwark of decency. Political dog-whislte slogans like ‘A Decent Society’ were deployed, ignoring the fact that senior people and rising stars in that very Party were, let’s say, not completely unacquainted with homosexuality themselves.
How far we’ve come from those dark days.
Not all social taboos are sensible, it seems to me. And, let’s face it, sometimes the law is an ass. e.g. The US’s ‘Defense of Marriage Act’ which I understand reserves such spousal ‘benefits’ as couples’ tax treatment for committed relationships between man-and-woman ONLY is doomed to be about as successful as Custer’s Last Stand. Wake up and smell the human rights, people.
Also, the very real potential for injustice where a spouse-in-all-but-civil-status can be not just discriminated against, but practically alienated, for instance, denied medical information/hospital visitation rights (for REAL) and the truth about their long term committed relationship obfuscated by narrow-minded bigots can’t remain unaddressed.
I don’t care what pushed Obama to make his statement. Good on him.
Coincidentally, Obama’s move today also spikes the guns of Roger Ailes’ protege Governor Chris Christie who, as recently as February was able to justify his ‘position’ on gay marriage as ‘Gov. Christie: I’m with Obama on gay marriage‘.
For all sorts of reasons, and as counter-intuitive as it may seem, politics seems to work better with clearer choices (short of the astro-turf hyper-partisanship of the Tea Party-ilk). See our discussion of Politics as the art of polarization.
From the ABC ‘exclusive’ today:
President Obama today announced that he now supports same-sex marriage, reversing his longstanding opposition amid growing pressure from the Democratic base and even his own vice president.
In an interview with ABC News’ Robin Roberts, the president described his thought process as an “evolution” that led him to this decision, based on conversations with his staff members, openly gay and lesbian service members, and his wife and daughters.
“I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors, when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together; when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married,” Obama told Roberts in an interview to appear on ABC’s “Good Morning America” Thursday.
The president stressed that this is a personal position, and that he still supports the concept of states’ deciding the issue on their own. But he said he’s confident that more Americans will grow comfortable with gays and lesbians getting married, citing his own daughters’ comfort with the concept.
Roberts asked the president whether first lady Michelle Obama was involved in his decision. Obama said she was, and he talked specifically about his own faith.
“This is something that, you know, we’ve talked about over the years and she, you know, she feels the same way, she feels the same way that I do. And that is that, in the end the values that I care most deeply about and she cares most deeply about is how we treat other people and, you know, I, you know, we are both practicing Christians and obviously this position may be considered to put us at odds with the views of others but, you know, when we think about our faith, the thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it’s also the Golden Rule, you know, treat others the way you would want to be treated. And I think that’s what we try to impart to our kids and that’s what motivates me as president and I figure the most consistent I can be in being true to those precepts, the better I’ll be as a dad and a husband and, hopefully, the better I’ll be as president.”