OK, let’s make gay rights an issue in the presidential election—why not?!

I mean, it’s not like there’s already a bunch of issues in this year’s election on which the candidates (and presumptive candidates) have staked out well-reasoned and philosophically-consistent positions as they make a rational case to the people of America asking for the responsibility of managing one of the major branches of our national government, right?  So I’d like to see if anybody is ready to really show some leadership, and gay rights and gay marriage are perfect issues: all that’s required is the courage to publicly do the right thing.

The latest engagement was in North Carolina where the voters took to the polls Tuesday to say no to gay marriage, in great big, red letters.  In Slate William Saletan summarized the vote-no-’cause-God-says-so arguments, and other scare tactics, those people heard in the campaign: Gay marriage will destroy religious freedom, and weaken the economy, and be treason against God, and we’ll lose God’s protection from racial disasters, and it will lead to man-on-dog marriage.  (Seriously.)

(Interesting perspective, though, from the speaker of the North Carolina state house, who is convinced that any ban on gay marriage in his state will only be temporary.  “State House Speaker Thom Tillis, a Republican from a Charlotte suburb, said even if the amendment is passed, it will be reversed as today’s young adults age.  ‘It’s a generational issue,’ Mr. Tillis told a student group at North Carolina State University in March about the amendment he supports.  ‘If it passes, I think it will be repealed within 20 years.’”)

This comes just a week after a Mitt Romney campaign foreign policy spokesman resigned after anti-gay conservatives “made an issue” out of his support for gay marriage.  Yes, it was Richard Grenell’s “unhinged” support for gay marriage that upset these folks, surely; the religious extremists wouldn’t have used that to cover their opposition to Grenell because the man himself is gay…no no, surely not.  Romney didn’t cover himself in glory, caving to the intolerance from the religious rightand sacrificing Grenell on the altar of getting elected.

Joe Biden’s got something to say here—what a surprise!  But I’m inclined to agree with those who think that putting the loose-lipped vice president on “Meet the Press” and having him say he is comfortable with gay marriage as a civil right is part of a political plan by the Obama campaign, which wants to reassure gay and lesbian voters, and other voters who support gay rights, that the president really is on their side but doesn’t want to take the chance of reigniting this culture wars issue and inflaming anti-gay voters into supporting Romney.  Adding the secretary of education to the mix was a nice touch.  From the standpoint of election politics, I understand that reasoning.  (There are Democratic spin doctors who insist there’s no subterfuge involved, that the campaign wishes this issue had stayed down in the weeds.)

But I also agree with J. Bryan Lowder in Slate, and probably many others in other places, when they argue that there has to come a time when the political calculations take a back seat to doing the right thing.

However, at some point this kind of political prevarication is going to have to give way to principle. Though the cultural mood in this country regarding homosexuality has been morphing in the right direction for a number of years now, waiting for the zeitgeist or generational turn-over to solve everything isn’t going to help those citizens affected in the meantime by dangerously reactionary legislation.

(They’re talking about you, Mr. President, if you’re up to it.)

Lowder goes on to explain, and links to a FiveThirtyEight blog post in the New York Times that further explains, that the North Carolina constitutional amendment doesn’t just prohibit same sex marriage, it outlaws all civil unions and domestic partnerships in the state regardless of gender.  Now, God’s position on heterosexual civil unions is not entirely clear, but there is a new Gallup poll showing half of Americans today believe same-sex marriages should be recognized as valid by lawwith the same rights as heterosexual marriages.  That’s a dramatic change from 15 years ago when it was only 27% favoring and 68% opposing.

The tide is turning: last week Funky Winkerbean started a new series, and I have a feeling the good people of Westview, Ohio will end up on the side of the angels.

gay prom at westview

2 thoughts on “OK, let’s make gay rights an issue in the presidential election—why not?!

  1. Why not indeed? I’ve lived over half a century now, and I’m willing to say without a doubt, this upcoming presidential election will be the most clearly defined and polarized of my lifetime. There are no fuzzy areas here, nothing even close to common ground between these two contenders. You name it, health care, unions, taxation, the EPA, education, regulation, climate science, abortion, separation of church and state, national security, which is better, “America Has Talent” or “The Voice”…You say stripes, I say plaid, you say banana, I say fuckin’ tomato.

    Bring it Obama, you’ve got nothing to lose on this one. Everyone on both sides pretty much has made up their minds anyways on how you really felt about gay marriage, it’s time to be bold and decisive. Four years into your term and going on record saying your thoughts were still “evolving” was as anemic as Clinton saying he “didn’t inhale.” Look, did you smoke pot or not?

    I’ve got to admit, I felt a certain lightening of my general angst today; even found myself walking around with a smile, for the level that measures us as a society was nudged a little further toward true when the president of the United States said on national television that on a personal level, he supported, and believed in, the concept of gay marriage. Yikes, this doesn’t happen every day, folks! In the end, the cracks in this aging dam are just proving too numerous and profound; it has been breached forever, and there is no turning back the flood waters. I agree that for the most part, it’s a generational issue – in another twenty years people will be telling their children that there was a time “when gay people who loved each other couldn’t even marry…” Anyone with teenage kids – or in my case, nieces and nephews – will tell you that to the vast majority of today’s youth, it’s just not a big concern or issue. And states who choose to follow N. Carolina? Well, good luck with that, and say hi to Fred and Barney for me next time you’re down at the Water Buffalo club wearing those funny hats…

    To all those who have fought and suffered over the years, this one’s for you!

    Bob in the Heights

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