Better late than never

So President Obama has finally come out in favor of equal civil rights for gays. About damn time, and kudos to him for having the courage to do so ahead of the election instead of waiting until it was “safe” to take a stand. He should have done so years ago, but still, credit where credit is due. This takes a fair amount of courage. He’s taking a genuine risk here by making gay marriage a campaign issue, because the right is looking for something they can use to build up a backlash, and this could be their best bet.

My advice to the Obama campaign: focus on the theme that it’s wrong to discriminate against people just because they fall in love differently than you do. The right is going to harp on the idea that he’s “changing the definition of marriage” and promoting immorality. He needs to undercut that and challenge the assumption that there’s only one “correct” way to fall in love, and that the government ought to deny equal rights to those who are different. Marriage, as an institution, belongs to everyone, and not just to those who fit the majority’s self-serving definition of what constitutes “normal.”


  1. mikespeir says

    Regardless how this comes out for him, it’s significant that we live in a day when the President of the United States could dare to say such a thing. And, yes, in some quarters it’s seen as scandalous. But those quarters are shrinking and becoming increasingly isolated. I don’t think Obama risks losing support he had any hope of having in the first place.

  2. Leo says

    My advice to the Obama campaign: focus on the theme that it’s wrong to discriminate against people just because they fall in love differently than you do.

    Well, on ABC’s GMA this morning, he was talking about his Christian faith and the Golden Rule. That might work with those Christians who already agree with him. Not sure if that will even cause other Christians to flinch. Then again, I’m so far split from Christian BS that I can’t say I really know what makes their minds tick. In my mind, I thought Joe Biden made a good case on Meet the Press on Sunday. I’d rather see Obama emulate that.

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

    Goddamnit. No, he did not. He explicitly said it was a states’ rights issue. He said my civil rights should be up to popular state vote.

  4. rikitiki says

    As far as “changing the definition of marriage” – the xtians have already done that by changing it from the biblical ‘traditional’ stance: marriage is supposed to be one man and multiple wives. Oh, and as early as 12 years old for wives, too.

  5. Art says

    I kind of think a good option would be to frame this in terms of it being a limited government issue. That the state has no right to tell citizens who they can, or cannot, fall in love with and marry. That the state should come down on the side of individual liberty and freedom and stay out of intimate negotiations and agreements between consenting adults.

    I think that framing has legs.

  6. d cwilson says

    I agree with Art @4.

    It’s the same argument that led to the repeal of states’ anti-sodomy laws. A true limited government conservative would stand firm in that it shouldn’t be the government’s business who one loves and wants to share their life with.

    Of course, we don’t have any true limited government conservatives. All we have these are rightwing authoritarians who believe in a combination of corporate oligarchy and medieval superstitions to keep the masses in line.

  7. wrathfuljade says

    So if it’s for states to decide whether or not to permit gay marriage, then why isn’t it for states to decide whether or not to permit interracial marriage? both involve the government privileging one sub-set of relationships over all others for no easily discernible reason (and child production isn’t a reason to privilege ‘traditional marriage’; if it was then marriages would be deemed to be consummated on the conception/birth of the first child because before then they wouldn’t be fulfilling their proper function in society).

  8. Aaron says

    This declaration, far from being courageous in an election year, is actually pretty well-timed. People who are anti-gay are generally already anti-Obama, and coming out in support of the gay rights issue will help energize the base and force Romney to make a strong declaration of his stance, which puts him in a weaker position. The concession to states’ rights even nullifies any actual strength of enforcement that might otherwise come out of the declaration.

    • Deacon Duncan says

      And by the same token, coming out in strong support of gay rights runs the risk of energizing the opposition. Obama’s greatest asset right now is the divide between religious conservatives and the secular (or at least more secular) GOP. If religious conservatives can be outraged enough by gay rights, they might temporarily bury their differences in order to unite with the less fervent members of their party, for at least long enough to elect a president more in line with their own bigotry.

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