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The post on equals rights that wasn’t

It’s always a gray margin between rightly criticizing someone on “our team” and providing fodder for the other jokers to use. See Gingrich, Newt, for an example of how that works and how effective it can be. Nevertheless, I was hesitant to write anything that might have resulted in a flame war below — between people who agree on most everything and need one another’s support to win in 2012 — but my fellow blogger in disgust-at-conservatives John Cole saved me:

(BallonJuice) — What he should be really praised for are all the many things he and his administration have done, some of which Glenn mentioned, but that was really just the tip of the iceberg- check this exhaustive list of advances for gay rights. I’d cut and paste it, but it would scroll 4-5 pages.

That isn’t an “impressive” record. It’s AMAZING. That’s what flummoxes me about many activists. Those are real accomplishments, yet we still had folks (Dan Choi, Aravosis, I’m looking at you) flaming the President. Contrary to what Glenn says, the President stating he supports same-sex marriage isn’t an action, it’s a statement. What is listed here are real actions. Yet most of those accomplishments received little fanfare or were even downplayed by the very same activists who today are doing cartwheels over “just words.” It’s almost as if for some activists, affirmation is more important than accomplishments.

Don’t get me wrong, I think what happened today is a big deal, and I recognize how important it is and I am very glad it has happened. And I understand that affirmation in this context, by the most powerful politician in the country, can be a game-changer But even if Obama had maintained his earlier position on same-sex marriage, he still has done more to advance gay rights than any other President, by a ridiculously wide margin. Faced with a congress more hostile than what Bill Clinton ever faced, he is UNDOING much of the damage inflicted on the gay community by none other than Bill Clinton.

I never thought I would see the day when a sitting President endorsed gay marriage. But that day has arrived, and it gives me a thin reed of hope, maybe we could see other good things come to pass that, for now, seem highly doubtful

Comments

  1. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Oh yeah, it’s fucking AMAZING that Obama just endorsed a “state’s rights'” approach to my civil rights. I’m totes just whining to object to that.

  2. 'Tis Himself says

    he still has done more to advance gay rights than any other President

    That’s not actually saying a whole hell of a lot. He’s “personally” okay with same-sex marriage. He then says the states should decide the issue when yesterday North Carolina voted in a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and civil unions.

    If he had said it was a federal issue and he was supporting a federal law making same-sex marriage or even civil unions legal, then that would have meant something. But Obama’s mealy-mouthed personal approval of same-sex marriage is about the absolute minimum he could have said.

  3. julian says

    But Obama’s mealy-mouthed personal approval of same-sex marriage is about the absolute minimum he could have said.

    The minimum he could have said while still being seen as ‘pro-gay.’ He isn’t going to win any Republican votes with this but it might make it easier for him to work with congress and the senate if the Republicans in each are less afraid of having their individual states recognize gay rights. Maybe that’s what he’s going for?

    ((Not to say I think that’s a good idea or worth it. Just trying to figure out what Pres. Obama’s angle might be.))

  4. Gregory in Seattle says

    All fine and good, except for two things.

    1. Looking at his website, it is quite obvious that he is a Democratic operative: the entries he writes, the blogs he links to, the ads that Google inserts. Trusting Mr. Cole’s objectivity on President Obama would be like trusting Michele Bachmann’s objectivity about Rick Santorum.

    2. As best as I can tell, Mr. Cole is straight. So here we have yet another person with heterosexual priviledge telling us gays to suck it up and be grateful that the president said something nice, even though Obama couched his nice words in terms that imply that he has no problem with more than half the states considering me to be undeserving of any rights at all.

  5. Gregory in Seattle says

    @Fredricmartin – I tried. I know that he was a rabid Republican, then had a come-to-Jesus (sic) moment and became a Democrat. That is all I’ve been able to find out. I would like to learn more, if you would be so kind as to provide some links.

  6. Dalillama says

    @fredricmartin
    Unless you’re about to tell us that he’s gay, it’s not relevant to Gregory’s second point. As far as the first part goes, if he’s not a Democratic operative he’s got even less excuse to kiss their asses so hard instead of calling them out when they need it.

  7. M Groesbeck says

    …so Obama eventually signed LGBT-positive legislation that he urged Congress not to pursue, and has now come out with a statement that he feels bad when states exercise the ability (which he considers completely legitimate) to mark us constitutionally as second-class citizens. And we’re supposed to be all over that crap? I mean, hell, we get better than that from the rightmost of the three major UK parties; how the hell am I supposed to be enthusiastic about a resurrection of the late and unlamented “separate but (quasi-)equal” doctrine that Obama has become so fond of?

  8. says

    Cole and I have a similar background and trajectory. We both used to be low info voters who didn’t care that much about politics and tacitly bought into the dems are weak french pussy traitors theme. During the 9-11/Iraq days we both started digging a little deeper, and were soon appalled when we realized how wrong we were and the depth of the deception that helped us stay wrong for so long.

    Maybe that’s why I’m one of those who thinks knowlededge helps despite the smart idiot effect. For me, conservative ideology was in some ways like young earth creationism, it just falls to pieces and those pushing it are quickly exposed as louts and liars under objective examination.

  9. Gregory in Seattle says

    @Stephen – I do my best to be a high info voter. More to the point, I am gay: the issue of marriage and allowing states to piss all over my human rights is not a game for me. I am an activist and have been for decades.

    Go to PZ’ thread on the President’s so-called support. Read the comments. Learn why so many of us — the onces who actually have to deal with this — are less than orgasmic.

  10. says

    I don’t expect anyone to be orgasmic Greg.

    I would think activists would be at least a little satisfied that they’ve made such incredible progress over a few years, that it’s clear we’re going to win this. There is no other issue I can think of that’s had this kind of success, at least in my lifetime. In fact, for women’s rights, minorities, one percenters, etc on those we’re mostly stalled or going backwards. But progressive women, minorities, etc, have often supported equal rights to the hilt, even when it came with a political penalty to their own immediate interests. I would hope equal rights advocaters wouldn’t now let them down when it comes time to vote, or try to open up fault lines, simply because they’re not orgasmic over the president’s time table or choice of words or something like that.

  11. Anri says

    Although the President personally supports mixed-race marriage, he really thinks that, as a legal issue, it should be left up to the states to decide.

    In other news, North Carolina recently added an amendment to their consitution to ban miscegenation statewide.

    . . .

    Although the President personally supports religious tolerance, he really thinks that, as a legal issue, it should be left up to the states to decide.

    In other news, North Carolina recently added an amendment to their consitution to ban jews from elected office statewide.

    . . .

    etc, etc.
    Progress!

  12. says

    So your idea Anri is “You support my cause no matter what while I try to injure yours.” In all honesty, does that soundto you like a credible political strategy? Do you think people who vote on women’s rights or minority rights are going to continue supporting gay rights and enabling tremendous progress therein, while gay rights activists make incredible strides — but choose instead to trash talk their political champions and thus injure their cause? Really? Do you REALLY, truly think that Anri?

  13. Anri says

    No, my point is that the Chief Executive, who claims Constitutional Scholarship as well as mixed race on his CV is ‘dissappointed’ that one of the states within his jurisdiction passed a blatantly non-secular, discriminatory piece of legislation – but doesn’t want to actually, you know, try to stop them from doing so!

    ‘Cause that might make people unhappy.

    As far as political strategy goes, who exactly is President Obama pleasing here? The LGBT community? Not by and large from what I’ve seen so far. The Right? Of course not – he can’t please them – his skin’s the wrong color.
    This was a move that said, in as public a way as possible, “I don’t have the courage of my convictions”. That won’t please his allies, and it won’t please his enemies.

    Do you believe that Civil Rights is a state-by-state issue?
    Do you believe the President believes it is?

    Or, let me put it to you this way: What if he had said the opposite – that his personal beliefs are that marriage is between one man and one woman, but that the Constitution protects individual rights, and any laws restricting them will be struck down as forcefully as possible?
    That would be actual progress.
    It would actually probably be better politically, too.

  14. Gregory in Seattle says

    @Anri #14 – A friend of mine put it, I think, very succinctly: Obama has given the Right something to howl about, and then told the gay community that we have to fight off the now riled-up wolves by ourselves.

    This is a setback on the road towards equal rights, not progress.

  15. says

    If you guys think trashing Obama is gonna help your cause or any of your allies causes, you’re simply deluded, dangerously so imo, and you are implying women’s rights and other rights and causes aren’t important after those folks worked their tails off to help your cause. But hey, if all you care about is feeling better, then by all means, let your feefees rule, kids.

  16. Anri says

    If you guys think trashing Obama is gonna help your cause or any of your allies causes, you’re simply deluded, dangerously so imo, and you are implying women’s rights and other rights and causes aren’t important after those folks worked their tails off to help your cause. But hey, if all you care about is feeling better, then by all means, let your feefees rule, kids.

    I want to make sure I’m not misunderstanding you on this, Stephen. You agree with President Obama on this issue?

    Because if you do, you presumably believe that a legal marriage in (say) California should not have equal standing in (say) North Carolina. Presumably, if the citizens of North Carolina believe people of different races or religions shoudn’t intermarry, the federal government should just shrug and say “Welp, nothing we can do!”. Or are LGBT folks a special case in some way?

    On the other hand, in you disagree with him, then why in heaven’s name should you ask anyone else to pipe down about their disagreement? That really starts to sound like “Well, yeah, guys, we all know he’s wrong, and that people’s basic rights are being violated, but it sounded good, so don’t complain.”

    I don’t want to straw man you on this, so what’s your position here?

  17. Gregory in Seattle says

    *Sigh* Someone with the comfort of heterosexual priviledge tells the queers to be grateful for a kind word and a pat on the head.

    When the President issues a statement about believing that YOUR rights should be left for individual states to decide, I’ll consider your thoughts on the matter to have merit. Until then, your condescension will be given the consideration it deserves.

  18. says

    BTW guys I’m not trying to sound like a jerk (It comes natural!), I’m just stuck in a place where I can’t compose thoughtful responses and have to whip it out fast and ugly. Take it with a grain of salt :)

  19. Josh, All Up In Your Faux-Liberal Librulism says

    You gigantic asshole, Steven. Do you have any fucking idea how offensive you’re being?

  20. Stacy says

    The federal law pertaining to gay marriage we have in the U.S. is DOMA. I’m not pointing out anything anyone here doesn’t know, just saying that, in context, I take the “state’s rights” comment not as “this is the way to handle the issue of gay marriage now and forever in the future” but as “fuck DOMA (–if a gay couple is married in state X, their marriage should be recognized in other states, and at the federal level.)”

    An anti-DOMA–a federal law ensuring marriage equality throughout the U.S.–isn’t on the immediate horizon, but it’s not that far off. Given how cautious BO is, he’s not going to jump forward three squares–he’s gonna go one meticulous step at a time.

    I can understand being pissed that civil rights are being held back by morons and the Prez isn’t being a more aggressive champion, but it’s OK to be happy about this. It’s still historic. The words that will be remembered are the ones about supporting gay marriage. The logistics of how to get there–well, presidential mealy-mouthing isn’t set in stone.

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