Too many people whose marriages are not up for debate have been griping that President Obama’s announcement was too little, too late. He’s endorsing federalism, argued Adam Serwer in Mother Jones. He’s championing state’s rights, complained left-of-center blogger Digby: “This is the essence of retrograde, reactionary politics and there’s a long history of these ‘sovereign’ states exercising their ‘rights’ to deny minorities their freedom.” Even House Assistant Minority Leader Jim Clyburn was upset with the president’s approach. “I depart from the president on the state-by-state approach. If you consider this to be a civil right, and I do, I don’t think civil rights ought to be left up to a state-by-state approach,” he said Monday.
Such critics of Obama are wrong. They are wrong about what the administration has done and said, wrong on the politics of gay marriage, and — most important — they are wrong on the law.
Read more. [Image: Reuters]
The first chart shows the rate of gay-marriage tweets per minute yesterday, which peaked at more than 7,000, just four minutes after the president’s own tweet.
The second shows the quantity of tweets referencing gay marriage since Obama’s inauguration. As you can see, yesterday the volume spiked, topping out around 1.6 million tweets, breaking the previous record from the night New York legalized gay marriage (which was, it should be noted, late at night on a Friday).
This week, voters in North Carolina, where same-sex marriage was already prohibited, passed a constitutional amendment against the practice, while President Obama, who wields no direct power over state marriage laws, finally affirmed that he favors full marriage rights for gays and lesbians.
These were both symbolic moves. Social conservatives assert that North Carolinians were standing up for traditional marriage while Obama was betraying it, an analysis that they earnestly believe.
But there’s something they don’t understand.
Gays in North Carolina and everywhere else in the United States are never returning to the closet. Gay couples are going to be on television sitcoms, in movies, and dining at downtown restaurants on Saturday nights. Kids are going to have gay friends in school, and they’re going to have straight friends with gay parents. As older people die and kids grow into teens and adults, acceptance of gays as normal is only going to increase. The question that remains is how these gay couples are going to live. When they live together or raise children together, are they going to marry?
Read more. [Image: Reuters]
The fortuitous timing of President Obama’s announcement on same sex marriage meant that it came during Shepard Smith’s show on Fox News, giving him the first incredible reaction on the network. Shep played the clip of Obama’s statement that was aired on ABC, then declared: ”the President of the United States, now in the 21st century.” Then while discussing the clip with reporter Brett Bair asked if the GOP could campaign on the issue ”while sitting very firmly, without much question, on the wrong side of history on it.”
President Obama can order the assassination of an American citizen but he cannot order the performance of a same-sex marriage. The problem isn’t his lack of power in the second case but his appropriation of power in the first. Yet his equivocation about marriage may matter in November at least a little; stating a position for or against it could matter a lot; his assassination authority will likely matter not at all.
Make war, not love. The targeted assassination of citizens merely suspected of terrorism enjoys popular support (a 79 percent approval rating), while same sex marriage passionately divides us, generating heated controversies that the president hesitates to touch. It’s an ugly portrait of post-9/11 America: More people are concerned with restricting their neighbor’s right to marry than the president’s power to kill.
It’s no wonder his position on marriage is “evolving;” so is the position of the public. Besides, if Obama declared for or against gay marriage, his declaration would have symbolic, not legal value. His administration has already exercised the primary legal power it possesses in this debate by declining to defend the Defense of Marriage Act, which denies federal recognition and federal benefits to same sex couples married under state law. DOMA is now subject to a strong 14th Amendment challenge involving a defense of states’ rights, not an invocation of federal, much less presidential, power.
Read more. [Image: Reuters]
A couple weeks ago, Dan Savage, the sex columnist, activist, and editorial director of Seattle alt weekly The Stranger, was invited to speak at the National High School Journalism Convention in Seattle. Savage is the force behind the “It Gets Better” videos, a series of messages from gay adults — and, later, straight ones including President Obama — to bullied gay teens, which were intended to discourage suicide. Somewhat more mischievously, and less G-ratedly, he also led the charge to propagate a rather filthy sexual meaning for “Santorum” as punishment for Rick Santorum’s anti-gay politics.
In the course of his talk about bullying, Savage pointed out anti-gay activists sometimes cite the Bible to justify their beliefs and behavior. He then went on to point out that the Bible sanctions any number of activities we don’t allow today, including slavery and the stoning of women who are not virgins when married (the full text, if you don’t want to watch the video, ishere), strictures he referred to as “bullshit.” In protest, some (presumably) Christian members of the audience walked out. As he wrapped up the inflammatory section of his remarks, Savage apologized for offending anyone, but undercut that apology somewhat by adding, “It’s funny, as someone who’s on the receiving end of beatings that are justified by the Bible, how pansy-assed some people react when you push back.”
Twenty-two years ago, Andrew Sullivan wrote the cover story for The New Republic, arguing for gay marriage. TNR is reprinting the original story, “Here Comes the Groom: A Conservative Case for Gay Marriage,” published in August of 1989. Sullivan takes an interesting approach (a socially conservative one) to arguing for gay marriage. Many who agree with his conclusions would probably disagree with how he got there. It’s definitely, however, this morning’s read.
…gay marriage could both avoid a lot of tortured families and create the possibility for many happier ones. It is not, in short a denial of family values. It is an extension of them.
Nice! Looking forward to reading some vintage Andrew this morning.