Monday, June 23, 2008

Obama and same-sex marriage

I wanted to get this posted on Sunday but life intervened with my blogging. The nerve!

Sapphocrat at Lavender Newswire announced in her headline that "Obama still thinks he’s more equal than I am. Only now he’s saying it out loud." She quoted a June 20 Advocate article by Kerry Eleveld that stated:

Sen. Obama reminded us this week that he believes marriage is between a man and a woman, something LGBT people might have easily forgotten over the course of the primary. …

...More precisely, Sen. Obama said, “I believe marriage is between a man and a woman,” shortly after being asked if he opposed same-sex marriage, to which he responded, “Yes.” This positioning is not new for Sen. Obama. He has uttered those words plenty — during a debate with Alan Keyes in 2004, on the Senate floor in 2006, even in his 2007 Human Rights Campaign candidate questionnaire.

But if LGBT people across the country bristled at the one-man, one-woman construction, they can be forgiven. After scouring the web, drawing upon memory and scanning my notes, this reporter cannot remember the senator using those words during the entire primary season from January right through until Sen. Hillary Clinton conceded the race to Obama on June 7. In fact, I don’t believe he has used them in any one of the 20-some Democratic debates.

Why now? Welcome to the general election say the pundits. One Democratic strategist and TV pundit who agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity said the language is intended to send a signal to swing state voters that Sen. Obama isn’t the crazy liberal they’ve been told he is. … [Emphasis added.]

I don't know if the anonymous Democratic teevee pundit (Is that you, Donna Brazile?) is correct in her/his explanation but Sapphocrat pointed out that there are already married same-sex couples in Massachusetts and California. "Sen. Obama, marriage is no longer simply between a man and a woman. At least, ours isn’t.” Does Obama oppose these marriages? Does he consider them inferior to hetero marriages? WTF is his position?

In April, The Advocate asked Obama:

Do you think it’s possible to get full repeal of DOMA? As you know, Senator Clinton is only looking at repealing the plank of DOMA that prohibits the federal government from recognizing state-sanctioned unions.

To which Obama replied:

I don’t know. But my commitment is to try to make sure that we are moving in the direction of full equality, and I think the federal government historically has led on civil rights -- I’d like to see us lead here too.

DOMA, if you have forgotten, defines marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman and prohibits the federal government from treating same-sex unions as marriages even if a state codifies them as such. DOMA also permits states or U.S. political subdivisions (D.C., Indian reservations, territories, etc.) to disregard same-sex marriages from other states. And for people flirting with the idea of voting for Libertarian candidate Bob Barr for president, he introduced DOMA in the House when he was a Georgia congressman.

I'm also aware of Hillary's position on same-sex marriage but she hasn't pandered to homophobes like Obama has, a deal-breaker for me, and she "openly declared her support for LBGT equal rights including a repeal of sections two and three of DOMA" among other actions. As Sapphocrat and my friend Rev. Irene Monroe have reiterated, former presidential candidate Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) has without hesitation consistently championed full equality for LGBTs including marriage.

When choices dwindled to Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, I supported Hillary, who has personally marched in Gay Pride parades and wasn't afraid to openly court our votes in Texas or a swing state like Pennsylvania. I had other reasons to support Clinton over Obama. However, my partner of 13+ years and I consider LGBT equality including marriage extremely important. Obama's waffling on our rights as equal citizens heightens our reasons among many to abstain from voting for him in November.

The Washington Blade reported June 13:

Obama, in his letter, says he hopes he and his supporters can work inclusively to secure equal rights for gay Americans.

“I will never compromise on my commitment to equal rights for all LGBT Americans,” he said in the letter. “But neither will I close my ears to the voices of those who still need to be convinced. That is the work we must do to move forward together. It is difficult. It is challenging. And it is necessary.”

Obama affirms that he continues to “support the complete repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act,” which allows states to ignore same-sex marriages performed beyond their borders and prevents the federal government from recognizing such unions. [Emphasis added.]

Now he affirms he opposes same-sex marriage. Who is Obama playing as chumps? Gays and lesbians? Swing state voters? Who?

M'yeah, I know. Politicians say the darnedest things to get elected but trusting Obama to keep his promises? Don't make me laugh. He "will never compromise" his "commitment to equal rights for all LGBT Americans" but he's going to listen to opponents of our equality. I understand from a political vantage point about examining the opposition's arguments to develop counter measures to defeat advocates of discrimination and bigotry. What will Obama decide? What will the constitutional scholar do? Will he capitulate to their positions? His rhetoric and actions have already demonstrated that his new kind of politics is a sham. Look at his dishonest campaign tactics in his okey doke on NAFTA. And Obama's support for the FISA "compromise."

So what's next after Obama's unequivocal opposition to same-sex marriage? Kerry Eleveld of The Advocate speculated:

Surely, the LGBT folks associated with the campaign are working feverishly behind the scenes to find a work-around for that phrase — one with the added benefit of being accurate. Only time will tell whether they prevail. …

To which Sapphocrat replied:

AFAIC, there’s nothing worse than selling out your own rights. Well, I’ll leave that to the LGBTs collecting a paycheck from Obama to work against their own self-interest — and mine. My conscience is clear.

One good thing about this article: At least The Advocate finally seems to be coming out of its Obama-induced stupor.

Obama himself, however, remains comatose on the issue of equality.

M'yeah. Persona non grata.