Obama The First Gay President?
Not that there's anything wrong with that. Creation Date Monday, 14 May 2012. Hits 1810
First and foremost, let me get this out of the way. No, I will not stop using the subtitle "Not that there's anything wrong with that" whenever the word "Gay" appears in the main title. Yes, I know I have worn it out and no, I don't care. That aside, when I heard that Newsweek had assigned this title to President Obama I couldn't help but think that somewhere out there, Larry Sinclair must be having a good laugh. It turns out that I was right. But I figured that now would be a good time to take a look at what actually happened this week, and how it changes the outlook for Gay Marriage in this country. Also, what impact will this have on the upcoming election? We could argue back and forth all day about this being a political move or a true change of heart, but that would be pointless. No matter what type of move it is, it will have political implications. So the important question is what will those be?
The problem for me personally on this issue starts at square one. In the interest of full disclosure, I could not care less about the issue of gay marriage. I understand that some people have deeply held religious views on the subject, and others have a more personal romantic interest in the subject. I myself have neither, so it doesn't matter to me. But I do have an interest in the matter of equality and fairness, so I have always approached the issue from this direction. I have talked about doing this for some time, but I have put the issue off because frankly I was just too lazy to do it. But, with the new focus on the issue, I finally felt that the time had come where it could no longer be put off. Therefore, without further ado, I present the Marriage Flow Chart.
Now for those of you who are not familiar with a flow chart, it is basically a simple way to familiarize a person with a necessary course of action. These things are often used as a teaching tool to simplify complicated tasks. Now one wouldn't think that the mere act of figuring out if you can marry someone or not would be complicated, but apparently figuring out if you are being discriminated against in the process is.
As you can see here, our chart is a poorly drawn but rather efficient tool to help one determine if they and their partner qualify for marriage. You may also notice that at no point on the chart is one's status (as to gay or straight) questioned. Isn't that interesting? Nowhere in the process of gathering information do I need to know if you are gay, but somehow I am discriminating against you if you are?
Now I have expressed this opinion before, and no matter where I bring it up I get the uniform reply "It's discrimination because gays aren't allowed to marry the person they love." But isn't true discrimination based on the individuals circumstance? For example, when blacks weren't allowed to vote it wasn't because they loved black people, it is because they were black. But furthermore, the implication of this statement is that straight people are allowed to marry the person they love, but this isn't true either. I love my Mother, but the law won't let me marry her. It also restricts me from marrying a woman that I love who is already married. What if I'm old school Mormon and still believe in that? Certainly there is an exception for me, right? Absolutely not. In fact, there are very few better examples of equal protection under the law than in the case of gay marriage. If I had a twin brother who was gay, the list of people he can legally marry is the exact same list that I the straight brother can legally marry. Yet the gay community still cries foul.
This observation leads me to a column written by a gay quasi-conservative commentator named Andrew Sullivan. He expressed his thoughts on the matter over at the Daily Beast. Here is a portion that I found interesting.
My heart sank. Was this obviously humane African-American actually advocating a “separate but equal” solution—a form of marital segregation like the one that made his own parents’ marriage a felony in many states when he was born? Hadn’t he already declared he supported marriage equality when he was running for the Illinois Senate in 1996? (The administration now claims that the questionnaire from the gay Chicago paper Outlines had been answered in type—not Obama’s writing—by somebody else.) Hadn’t Jeremiah Wright’s church actually been a rare supporter of marriage equality among black churches? The sudden equivocation made no sense—except as pure political calculation. And yet it also felt strained, as if he knew it didn’t quite fit. He wanted equality but not marriage—but you cannot have one without the other. On this issue, Obama’s excruciating [sic] nonposition was essentially “Yes we can’t.” And yet somehow, simply by the way he answered that mother’s question, I didn’t believe it. I thought he was struggling between political calculation and his core belief in civil rights. And it was then that I realized he was both: a cold, steely, ruthless, calculating politician who nonetheless wanted to do the right thing in the end.
Here we see a gay man compare this "discrimination" against homosexuals to the outlaw of inter-racial marriage in the past in some states. But are they really similar? After all, blacks were allowed to marry, just not the person that they loved if that person happened to be white. Similarly, whites were allowed to marry, just not the person that they loved if they happened to be black. The difference comes in the enforcement of the law. In other words, in order to enforce the law, one needs to know the specific detail about the person to determine if it applies to them or not. In order to discriminate against marriage between the races, one had to determine which race the individuals were.
In the case of same sex marriage, the law applies equally. If I were gay and in love with Andrew Sullivan, the law would not allow me to marry him. But what if he as a gay man asked me as a straight man to marry him and I agreed? The law will not allow that either. The law applies equally to both gay and straights. Changing either of the partners to gay or straight does not change how the law applies to them, unlike the anti-miscegenation laws where changing the race of either of the parties changed their legal ability to marry.
I was watching an episode of the Tyra Banks show where she came to realize the point that I am making here, and it literally dropped her jaw. In the episode she had on a transgender couple that were living as a male and female couple, but they were the opposite when they were born. She thought they were off on their date of marriage because their marriage predated the passage of the gay marriage law in their state. They explained to her that even though they identified themselves as gay, since he was born a she she was born a he they were allowed to marry. Tyra still didn't fully get it, as she called this "some type of loophole" in the law. No. It's called equal protection. Even though they were a gay couple, they are allowed to marry because the one has a birth certificate that says "male" and the other that says "female."
Discrimination or not, none of this changes what President Obama did this past week. But after looking at the full transcript of what he said, the question becomes "Did he actually do anything?"
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. Now-- I have to tell you that part of my hesitation on this has also been I didn't want to nationalize the issue. There's a tendency when I weigh in to think suddenly it becomes political and it becomes polarized.
And what you're seeing is, I think, states working through this issue-- in fits and starts, all across the country. Different communities are arriving at different conclusions, at different times. And I think that's a healthy process and a healthy debate. And I continue to believe that this is an issue that is gonna be worked out at the local level, because historically, this has not been a federal issue, what's recognized as a marriage.
Had the President said "I don't like gays, and the thought of them marrying sickens me, but it is only fair to allow them to do it so I guess we're going to have to work towards that end" this would have been a much bigger announcement. Instead, he said that he sees it as an equality issue, but it is just a personal view and nothing he plans to do anything about. The very next sentence from the interviewer Robin Roberts shows how well that will go over with the left.
Well, Mr. President, it's-- it's not being worked out on the state level. We saw that Tuesday in North Carolina, the 30th state to announce its ban on gay marriage.
You see, to the left allowing the people in each State to decide isn't working things out. It only qualifies as "being worked out" if they get the result they want. Yet his announcement is still going over well in the gay community. To fully understand why, just read the rest of the above linked article by Andrew Sullivan.
It is true that our laws as currently structured have a tough impact on some people. And while it may not fit the bill of discrimination, one is either a fool or politically blind if they don't see where all of this is going. Within the next 10 to 15 years, you will see some type of federal action allowing gay marriage. And herein lies the real political impact of what President Obama did. He took another step towards having Democrats on the "right side" of this issue. But since we are on the front side of the political shift, I believe in the short term he will pay for that ever so slightly in the ballot box. Ironically, this will probably come largely at the loss in votes from not only the Hispanic community, but also blacks. While I don't think you will see a huge shift in the percentages from either of these communities, I believe you will see a smaller pool and thus lower impact from his dominance with these demographic groups. In other words, don't look for a flip to Mitt, but rather expect some voters to just stay home.
In the long term, what Republicans must do is to come to terms with what exactly this issue is. If we continue to look at it as a debate that we can win, we will lose politically. If we look at gay marriage as a sure thing coming down the road, then perhaps within the next four or five years we can shift to be on the politically correct side of this issue. This is not a case of fighting to protect some ideals. We're going to lose that battle one way or the other. The real question is do we lose with the rest of our ideals by riding this sinking ship all the way down. This is a question that each of us must answer for ourselves, but it is an important one that will be facing us in the near future. We lost this battle when we allowed the left to falsely define the issue as discrimination in the first place.