Saturday, May 9, 2009

Obama and Gay Marriage or Shut the Hell Up and Let the Man Run the Country

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.

Back off.


  1. I applaud Obama for everything he's done so far. Having personally felt the impact of the economy and struggling with employment, finance and healtcare issues, I would be upset if attention was taken away from these issues to focus on gay marraige.

    Call me crazy, but I say lets keep the focus on the foundation of life.

  2. I am, obvously, absolutely with you mi amor.

  3. I'm pretty much with you Brandon.

    However, one thing, with respect to the balance of power on the Supreme Court: after Souter leaves, it looks likely that the next two will leave will be Bader-Ginsberg and Stevens. Ginsberg and Stevens are on the 'liberal' wing of the Court, just as Souter has been.

    Assuming Obama is able to get similarly liberal justices confirmed, there will be no balance of power on the Court.

  4. Oops. In the last sentence of my comment, instead of "there will be no balance of power on the Court", I meant to say that there will be no SHIFT in the balance of power on the Court.

  5. Love you and love this article! You are so insightful! ~signed, calamari in mn

  6. I very much can relate to your point of view here. The dynamics of public opinion can be a very delicate process, easily disturbed by the "Yellin'". A strategic approach might achieve much more hopefully.

  7. I can't agree with you more BLC. We must not let our temptations to vent our frustrations of decades of marginalization just for the sake of doing so. The Dems split apart during the Bush-Gore and Bush-Kerry elections and look what we ended up with - disaster. Stay the course married queers, our time WILL come. For those who can't wait, think back to a time when your mom could not vote, how long did it take for women to be granted that right. Marriage, civil unions, something will happen.

  8. It isn't surprising that many of those advocating for a broader platform of queer issues (e.g., economic development, housing, health care, etc.) are LGBT community members who are lower income and/or people of color. They seem to be aware that the unemployment rate is a problem, health care is too expensive, and affordable housing scarce. The cross-cutting effects of these concerns on all communities (including LGBT folks) makes it apparent for some that these are, in fact, queer issues.

    The negligence of mainstream LGBT organizations and activists to address housing, education, or health disparities is astounding. Can class and racial biases account for the myopic focus on marriage equality as the single most important concern for the entire LGBT community?

    Moreover, whatever happened to the prominence of issues that were once thought to have an undeniably negative impact on queers in America? Why do we no longer hear much about service in the military, hate crimes, and school climate for LGBTQ youth? Have we made sufficient progress in these areas to feel comfortable lowering them in terms of priority?

  9. AJC: You are so right...I retract that part of my blog ;-) But a guy can hope can't he?
    Tiff: You are HILARIOUS! And I love you too.
    Eduardo: Venting frustrations is totally acceptable...but do it in a way that is strategic...which is what you said...with which I totally agree.
    Paul: For sure!
    Gilbert: You are brilliant. I heart you.

  10. For the most part I agree with, but there are some LGBT issues that are direly urgent. We need LGBT immigration rights now whether through the UAFA or Comprehensive Immigration Reform. And this, like many believe, is not strictly a privileged white middle class issue. We need the Uniting American Families Act NOW.

    UAFA YouTubeImmigration Equality

  11. For the most part I agree with, but there are some LGBT issues that are direly urgent. We need LGBT immigration rights now whether through the UAFA or Comprehensive Immigration Reform. And this, like many believe, is not strictly a privileged white middle class issue. We need the Uniting American Families Act NOW.

    UAFA YouTubePlease Visit

    Immigration Equality

  12. I would not classify immigration reform as a white middle class issue. As a matter of fact, I wholeheartedly support swift immigration action as a part of a large overhaul and decriminilazation of immigration policy.

    In general the issues that I think are important but SECONDARY are queers in the military, marriage, and even hate crimes legislation (I actually oppose hate crimes legislation--absolutely and completely due to the fact that because of our racist judicial system the hate crimes laws, like all other ruling guidelines, will be unevenly and more often applied to people of color).

  13. Great post -- More white queer folks need to stop seeing queer marriage as THE issue for our community and realize housing, immigration rights, racial justice, prison reform are our issues, too... that would change the dialogue all together.

  14. too bad you can't run for office some where! =P

  15. RSC: Who says I can't ;-). That's my project for when I return to Minnesota one day ;-)

  16. White, Gay and ProudJuly 26, 2009 at 6:15 AM

    Go F yourself Brandon! I ain't carrying any heterosexuals water like you. Gay people have been here before, during and after the formation of this country. Our rights are long overdue. I will not wait a second longer to get them.

  17. White, Gay, Proud: I wish I could fuck myself...that would be fun. Your desire to marry is no where close to being "equal" to our responsibility to end war, cover 40 million uninsured with health benefits, end the recession, and get more than 30 million people back to work. Queer Marriage is an important issue. It is not, like these other issues, a matter of life and death.

  18. P.S. Carrying heterosexuals water? Sweetness...let's compare your pleasure...I am fairly certain, I can say with 99.9% surety, that I have done more work for social change around queer liberation than someone that is too much of a coward to post their name in a knee jerk angry answer to a nuanced posting.


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