You know what the Gay Marriage movement needs? Someone at the Top with Conviction.
I was listening to MPR this morning and they had a report on the Obama Administration’s attempts to back pedal from the Vice President’s remarks on gay marriage.
Biden, committing one of his legendary “gaffes” said that he was “absolutely comfortable” with gay marriage. Note that “gaffe” is in quotes because saying you support gay marriage is not a gaffe. For his part, the most Obama has ever said on the issue is that his position is “evolving.”
Later in the same segment, it was pointed out that recent polling suggests the majority of Americans support marriage equality in spite of the fact that a significant number of ballot initiatives aimed at banning gay marriage have succeeded in recent years. Tomorrow, North Carolina’s amendment One, the most draconian of these initiatives, is likely to pass.
Amendment One doesn’t just ban gay marriages. It goes further and bans civil unions and domestic partnerships. While I can’t imagine a way the amendment will survive court challenges, the fact is somebody wrote it and a great many people support it.
In the NPR piece I listened to this morning, one important reason was given for these initiatives – it gets conservatives out to the polls in huge numbers. People who aren’t excited by Mitt Romney will go out and vote for him at the same time they vote against marriage equality.
This issue ignites the conservative base but it apparently fails to ignite the liberal base. More people who support banning gay marriage will go to the polls than people who are against it. This in spite of the fact that national polling numbers suggest these initiatives don’t have enough support if everyone actually showed up to vote.
So what’s the problem here?
Part of it is the fact many people who support marriage equality are so disillusioned with the political process that they don’t vote. The assume that they can’t make any sort of difference because the two parties are “basically just the same.”
While I agree that is true (and frustrating) in some areas, it ignores the point that this ballot initiative is a place where they can make a direct difference. If we defeat the anti-gay marriage amendment in Minnesota, for instance, we have a direct impact on homosexual friends and family members.
The problem is that gay marriage has been a hot potato that the leaders of our political process refuse to touch – unless they are against it. Obama, locked in a tight re-election campaign, chooses to remain distant on the topic because he knows that coming out in support of gay marriage could cost him some conservative Democrats. That is a group he feels he can’t afford to lose.
Thus, when Biden comes out in support, the Obama campaign feels it must immediately back pedal on the issue.
Conservatives know they will eventually lose on this issue. The public opinion is shifting rapidly and the demographic most likely to vote against it – seniors – is dying off. Eventually, they will not be able to push these initiatives any longer.
But without the leader of the “liberal” party coming out against these hateful initiatives, it is going to take a lot longer.
Obama needs to look at the fact that the majority of Americans are for higher taxes on the rich but the Republican party continues to stand strongly against it. They are willing to take an unpopular stand. When it comes to gay marriate, he needs to do the same thing.
It my be hard to believe but many voters (probably even most) appreciate when a politician takes a strong stand on a hot button issues. It indicates they aren’t afraid to make a choice when one has to be made.
Now, I understand that the Obama administration is much friendlier to homosexuals than a Romney administration will be. Obama worked to get rid of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and instructed the Justice Department to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act.
Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is probably gone for good. Much as the conservatives want to put gay soldiers back in the closet, the military seems fine with the change and will probably resist Republican efforts to reinstate the former policy. If elected, Romney will, undoubtedly, start fighting hard for DOMA.
I would imagine that if Obama wins re-election, he will come out in support of gay marriage because he will be a lame duck and that will allow him slightly more latitude on the issue.
That isn’t good enough. Obama needs to lead, not follow on this issue.
He isn’t going to and that is unfortunate. That means the rest of us need to lead by talking about this issue. I will not tell someone who is against marriage equality that I understand their point of view because I do not.
If I talk to someone who says they don’t plan to vote this fall, I tell them that they need to go to the polls if only to vote against the gay marriage amendment.
Public opinion is finally on the right side but those people who believe that we need to stop instituting legalized discrimination against some members of our population need to actually use their voices at the polls.
This is one case where voting will make a very tangible difference. Obama isn’t going to encourage people to go to the polls to vote against this kind of hateful bigotry. We are all going to have to do it ourselves.
Update: I didn’t think it would happen prior to the election but Obama did it – he came out in support of gay marriage. Good for him. I’m not sure how this will affect him in November but I would like to believe that his position is the result of an honest belief that gay marriage should be leagal and not a political calculation.