So, I have seen numerous articles lately yellin' and screamin' and lambastin' Obama for not speaking out on the subject of gay marriage. Though President Obama has made his support for civil rights clear, and though he has made mention in the past that he supports civil unions, and though every indicator shows that if the Democrats in Congress got their thumbs out of their asses and passed a repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act he would sign it, still, certain, largely privileged white middle class gays, seem to think that Obama should stop his work on the economy, health care, two wars, and poverty in order to take up arms on the gay marriage front. Get a damn life people.
Obama is doing EXACTLY the right thing by NOT raising the queer marriage issue back into the national spotlight. The Republicans used, quite effectively, the spectre of gays getting married as a successful wedge issue for...well, almost fifteen years. Clinton, bowing to pressure from the right, signed the Defense of Marriage Act into law instantly catapulting the marriage issue onto the national stage. Marriage, in general, is a state's rights issue. Obama, who, I will remind everyone, was a constitutional law professor, is being extremely savvy right now. Since he has taken office three states, and a fourth one soon, have instituted the right to marry for same sex couples. Our constitution has a little itty bitty clause in Section Four part II called the Full Faith and Credit Clause, which reads:
Full faith and credit ought to be given in each state to the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings, of every other state; and the legislature shall, by general laws, prescribe the manner in which such acts, records, and proceedings, shall be proved, and the effect which judgments, obtained in one state, shall have in another.
That means if you get married in Vermont then Minnesota must recognize that legal union. Since the U.S. Constitution requires full faith and credit, and since the U.S. constitution supercedes state constitutions, it doesn't matter if Minnesota has a constitutional amendment banning same sex unions (it doesn't actually)...once a nice quiet lesbian couple in New Hampshire decides to move to Utah...and is denied recognition of their marriage...they appeal..until they get to the highest courtin the land, and .a ruling by the Supreme Court will quickly annihilate those pesky state constitutional bans on same sex marriage. Sort of like Lawrence versus Texas. Remember that one people? With a quick little vote of the Supreme Court, anti-sodomy laws were invalidated across the country (and, ps, it was this court...with this composition...that struck down the anti-sodomy laws...all indicators are that Obama will be selecting three new justices sometime in the next few years...shift of balance of power...duh).
Of course, raising the issue of same sex marriage to the federal level again will rally the Republican base, create an INSTANT wedge issue between certain elements of people of color communities and the Democratic Party (which, of course, will split Obama's base), and it will raise again the spectre of a U.S. Constitutional ban on same sex marriage. It has been made clear that such a ban will never pass, but siphoning off precious political capital right now to fight off a re-energized Republican base and a split Democrat base on this issue will make it nigh on impossible for Obama to push the Republicans out of the way on the health care reforms we need, social security, social safety network issues, immigration and the border, and a whole host of other social justice issues that DESERVE and WARRANT immediate attention.
Obama knows that it is only a matter of time before a critical mass of U.S. states have approved queer marriage, and that, by such approval, will trigger a series of judicial events that will result in the extension of marriage rights to all queer folks in every state. At that point, the Defense of Marriage Act, if it has not been repealed, will be low hanging fruit and easily plucked off. How the hell would members of Congress justify “protecting” federal marriage rights when the Supreme Court has closed the case on the states rights side of the issue.
I am so damn frustrated with these half baked queer pundits that can't see past the ends of their own wedding rings to see the big picture. Obama is NOT standing in the way of queer marriage. He is keeping his party in check around the issue by NOT creating a situation where he has to worry about legislators turning their attention away from the issues that we NEED to address. It would be foolish, stupid, and untimely for Obama to stop what he is doing to focus on marriage when the fantastic efforts of local and state organizers are doing the work, swiftly, and with much success.
The road isn't easy towards justice, and, unfortuantely, in the system under which we labor there are times when STRATEGY dictates form (which it ALWAYS should). Folks that are running around pissed off because Obama hasn't hosted a mass queer wedding in the Rose Garden are demanding form without any strategy or strategic thought behind it.
Let's be clear: Obama is not perfect, but he is working on the bigger picture...which, right now, means getting the almost 10% of people in this country that are unemployed back to work. That means ending two wars that are draining tens of billions of dollars a month out of our economy and killing innocent soliders and innocent Iraqis and Afghanis. That means changing our health care system so that it makes sense and the 40 million uninsured in this nation have access to health care. THOSE are the issues that Obama should be focused on. THOSE are the issues that he is focused on. And the largely white gay men that are attempting to UNSTRATEGICALLY force his hand are going to do nothing but lay the groundwork for a base splitting circus that will, in the long term, hurt the queer movement and result in a retardation of the amazing work around marriage equality that has already been done.