Friday, May 11, 2012

Obama finally got it--sort of....


President Obama’s position on same sex marriage has finally “evolved” into a belated, unenthusiastic, tepid acceptance.  This week was clearly not the moment he would have chosen to make his announcement, but Joe Biden forced the President’s political hand with his statement on Sunday that he was “comfortable” with same-sex marriage. [Here]  Most analysts that I have read agree that this was no pre-planned event to allow Obama to glide easily into the hot button issue but was rather our dear Joe being Joe, the guy who speaks truthfully from his heart.  
The President explained Biden’s actions in a dismissive way, “He probably got out a little bit over his skis, but out of generosity of spirit.” [Here]  Obama’s statement said more about his own position than it did about Biden’s. 
Here’s what our silver-tongued President had to say about his recently ”evolved” position on same-sex 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. 
What has been surprising is the enthusiastic response that this barely coherent statement has gotten from gay-rights activists and all but the far-right media.  It has set off a round of optimistic fund-raising and inspired some pleasant editorials, but I doubt it will propel anyone to the altar or make anyone in North Carolina regret that he or she just voted to slam the door on gay civil rights.  I know that the President wrote that he was “disappointed” with the result of that state’s vote [Here] but so what?  It’s easy to shrug one’s shoulders after the fact, but it is much harder and more important to speak out before the vote.  Would it have changed the final count?  I do not know, but neither does the President.  (And I have heard no noise from the Democratic Party’s leadership or from the White House that Charlotte, North Carolina will be reconsidered as the site of the Democratic National Convention next summer.)
The Washington Post reported [Here] that shortly after Obama made his same-sex marriage statement on ABC, he called one of his spiritual advisors, the Rev. Joel Hunter, to inform him what he had just announced.  Obviously, Hunter was not pleased.  Rev. Hunter, a leading evangelical minister, is the senior pastor of a 15.ooo congregation in central Florida.[Here] He told the Post that he was afraid that civil rights laws would now be passed forcing churches to marry gay couples.  Obama assured him that would not happen.  (?!?)  This gives one another perspective about Obama’s insistence about leaving legalization of same sex marriage up to individual states.  Isn’t it strange that our first Afro-American President carries within himself so few reverberating echoes of the 20th century’s civil rights struggle?
As readers of this blog already know, last July my partner of 33 years and I were the first female couple to be legally married in our township.  The ceremony was beautifully and sensitively officiated by the GOP/Conservative Town Clerk.  We were surrounded and supported by neighbors and friends, all of whom worship in different churches, vote for different candidates, believe in different political goals but who all honored us and have continued to shower us with affection.  This was made possible by the political vision of Democratic New York State legislators and a few courageous Republicans, but mostly it was due to the political leadership and acumen of Governor Andrew Cuomo.
This is an issue that is deserving of determined political leadership and conviction, not one sentence lines.  We yearn to hear the eloquence of Martin Luther King, the clarion voice of John F. Kennedy, the political savvy of Lyndon Johnson, the empathetic heart of Joe Biden and, yes, the clarity and vision of Hillary Rodham Clinton. 

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