Thursday, May 10, 2012

The President and Gay Marriage

After hearing the president's announcement of his personal support of  same-sex marriage, I just wanted to enjoy the president's positive statement. I figured that there would be affirmation and support for the president among progressives. Was I wrong!

PZ Myers post over at Pharyngula is an accurate reflection of the critiscism that the president is reaping from some progressives and some members of the LGBT community who feel that the president's statement was weak and insignificant. Myers writes:
That’s the best we’ve got from Obama? Seriously? It’s taken him this long to “evolve” to the point where he can take a personal (not even a political) stand on civil rights? 
What do people expect from this president? He has gone further than any president has before. What is there to be skeptical about? This was not a clever campaign move designed to garner votes. In taking this position he stands to lose some Black and Latino votes, two groups with numbers significant enough to make a difference in November. What he may gain from the LGBT vote will not be nearly enough in numbers to compensate for the votes that he stands to lose. I think that he did the right thing because it was the right thing to do.

But I am flabbergasted at some of the responses from his critics who identify with the progressive movement. Everything does not happen at once. During his administration, DADT has been repealed and cannot rear its ugly head again unless Congress passes another discriminatory law. Unlike what could have happened if he had merely ended DADT with an Executive Order that would have had limited authority for enforcement and that could have been easily rescinded by the next president without congressional approval.

Now he has taken a very public position on an issue that no president before him has ever addressed. What's the alternative position? Would you prefer that he have continued to say nothing? Exactly what nefarious reason could he have for making this declaration in favor of equality?

And the notion that his speaking out two or three years ago would have made any difference in North Carolina's recent vote to amend the state constitution to declare that marriage between a man and a woman is the only domestic union recognized in the state is ludicrous. This particular legislation has been proposed every legislative session for at least the last five years. NC joins 30 other states that have already passed similar constitutional amendments. The majority of voters still don't believe in same-sex marriage as evidenced by the 31 states where citizens came down firmly against safe-sex marriage by referendum. No other president has said a word about gay marriage and now this man finally speaks up and the whine is, it's not enough? Obama made history today.

Obama has been in office less than four years and in those four years it seems that people expected him to undo the biases and prejudices that have been firmly entrenched in this culture for centuries. Myers and his allegedly progressive cohorts sound like petulant children and don't offer any constructive criticism, only complaints that Obama hasn't done enough. For the 100th time, presidents don't propose nor write legislation and an Executive Order is not a magic wand. Most of what the public believes can be done with an EO is based on a total misunderstanding of the scope of the president's power.

All of you who feel betrayed by President Obama, would you feel better if he hadn't addressed the issue at all? What's your plan for November? Quite a few critics of the president's statement in support of same-sex marriages also declared their intent not to give their vote to Obama in November. I can only assume that they somehow believe that helping Romney win the presidency will teach Obama and the Democrats a lesson. I think that this is what it means to cut off your nose to spite your face.

Think this is far fetched? Perhaps you missed the story from West Virginia about Tuesday's primary. Keith Judd, currently incarcerated in Texas, managed to get himself on the ballot for West Virginia's Democratic primary. Judd got 40% of the Democratic vote. It seems that 40% of Democrats cast their vote for Judd in order to to vote against President Obama. You can't make this stuff up. If we end up with a President Romney, there are a whole lot of people who are going o have some explaining to do.


Jono said...

The reality of it is that change, real change, happens slowly in our system. It is designed that way. As you say, for the president to even take a stand is a big step forward. Let's hope the general population comes to its senses.

Cheryl said...

I hope people will take a step back and realize how important it was that the president took a stand. It is a step toward real progress. We need to keep moving forward.

Lisa :-] said...

I believe Mr. Obama, on this issue at least, chose to declare his stand for what is right, rather than what might be politically expedient. I am an Obama fan...I voted for him in 2008, and will again this year. The man just can't seem to do anything right...certainly not in the eyes of conservatives. And, apparently, he can't do enough to please progressives, either. I think for progressives to get all whiney and huffy about Obama's announcement is inexcusable.If we end up with President Romney, it will serve them right.

Phyllis ZG said...

I hope that many of these commentators wrote their diatribes before hearing the actual interview the next day. If they were not moved, then I am shocked. I don't even mind that some Progressives disagree with some of the President's actions - we should let him know our positions, since it is part of his job to be aware of his constituents. What I object to, and am dismayed by, is the dismissive contempt with which these so-called "supporters" talk of him. And they never acknowledge ANY accomplishments. I read one piece yesterday that dismissed this pronouncement as pure, cynical calculation. When I jump into discussions with these folks, who seek each other out & treat their contempt as a given - I am attacked. No one even acknowledges the facts I present, or if they do, there's a "yes, BUT" or a "shame on him for not going far enough" - or "soon enough." All I'm hearing from them now is, "what took him so long?" or "a day late & a dollar short" - and rants about his lack of leadership, for heaven's sake. Am I living in the Bizarro Universe, or are they? They attack me as an apologist if I support the President on ANYTHING. I reiterate that I am NOT saying "Don't criticize the President"; I am saying "Balance constructive criticism with acknowledgement of the huge accomplishments." And their response, inevitably, is, "I have the right to my own opinion," "I have the right to criticize him if I want to," and "I don't owe anyone my vote" - none of which addressed my point. I pointed out that if gay civil rights were so self-evident that Obama should have jumped straight onto the bandwagon from the birth canal, then why were people not marching for LGBT equality in the 50s & 60s along with black equality? No one writes "Shame on Dr. King for not being aware of discrimination against gay people and championing their rights, too." One acquaintance started quoting "Letter from Birmingham Jail" and "Why We Can't Wait" as justification for her criticism of Obama. I get that - but I pointed out that Obama has NOT taken a "wait, and it will eventually come" attitude - he's repealed DADT, refuses to enforce DOMA, and has come out publically for gay marriage. No response. I even pointed out that I, too, wish he'd not added it needed to be done state-by-state, which should at least show I am not an Obama apologist or deluded cheerleader but am doing what I ask them to do, balancing criticism with acknowledgement. I got into a fight with a gay friend the night of the announcement; he called about something else, and I was full of euphoria watching gay people being interviewed on TV celebrating how historic the occasion was - and my friend's reply was, "I'm pissed. Obama's a coward." I went off on him, & we hung up on each other. He won't return my phone calls. Way to get President Mitt.

Ken Riches said...

A shame that we can not enjoy the changes our president has made, instead it is attack time... sad

Leslie Parsley said...

You're just too damn rational, Sheria. I wrote about this on PP but declined to comment on the reaction from the Leftbaggers because I'm simply too disgusted with their nonsense to deal with them anymore, so I quoted from you because you say it "better and smarter" than I do. Actually, I don't expect much more from them, or from the Tea Baggers for that matter, but the reaction by Cooper at Log Cabin Republicans just blew my head away. But then, one has to wonder how any gay person can be a member or the GOP. Do they like being abused?