Democrats & Liberals Archives

Obama’s Same-Sex Dilemma

President Obama has dipped his toes into murky water regarding same-sex marriage. He made it clear during his campaign that he did not support same-sex marriage but was not opposed to same-sex unions as a way to ensure economic security and other marital benefits for same-sex couples. Just don’t call that union marriage. It’s absurd to think that someone can be for same-sex couples receiving the benefits of marriage but oppose calling them married. Semantics, I suppose.

Traditionally, the most ardent opposition to same-sex marriage comes from the most devoutly religious people in America—self proclaimed, of course. What makes their argument so fragile is that marriage has nothing technically to do with religion. Marriage is a civil contract. You cannot get married without a state license, and all you need is a justice of the peace to make it official. In the eyes of the law religion plays no part in validating a marriage.

But that is beside the point. With President Obama now opening up federal benefit packages to include same-sex partners his hypocrisy on the subject grows even more apparent. He has already wavered on his promise to abolish Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in the military despite the highest support ever among American’s in favor of repealing the practice. Is he now just trying to appease the same-sex community by throwing them a bone?

Surely this is an unprecedented step forward for same-sex couples, but for someone who ran on a platform of change this change leaves a funny taste on the palate. It is not enough to simply appease the same-sex community and those who support it. If Obama truly desires change then he cannot be afraid to pull the trigger. Whether his own religious beliefs are holding him back, or he fears damaging his political “in-the-center-ness”, it would make a tremendous impression for him to go all the way rather than compromise to hedge his bets.

As it stands now the state and federal governments perpetuate the discrimination of an individual’s right to love. At least some states have managed to pluck their heads from the moist darkness and embrace reality. But let’s face it folks, the people who claim marriage is only about procreation conspicuously left love out of the equation. They can never even mention love in their defense of so called traditional marriage because it would further expose them as fools. I’m sure there are plenty of loving married couples who cannot reproduce, or relish the thought, choose not to. Are their marriages any less real?

And as Obama is trying to appease both sides of the debate without stepping on any toes good military personnel are being shoved out the back door due to their genetic propensity to love someone of their own sex. Meanwhile, openly proud white supremacists are being herded in through the front with open arms.

I guess some change is good enough so long as it doesn’t offend anyone too much.

Posted by Michael Falino at June 17, 2009 8:25 PM
Comment #283141

Well said - I am very disappointed that Obama has really dropped the ball on equality for gay Americans, among other things. He is still firing people from the military, still standing in the way of marriage equality. Which is ironic because at least in my state (Virginia) his parents could not have legally married. I have often mentioned this care but Loving v. Virginia (1967) ruled that marriage was a basic civil right and one cannot be discriminated against because they simply belong to a certain group (race in that case). It is shameful that he isn’t more out in front of this issue. I’m sure that he has religious reasons though any of those are pretty darn weak as this has nothing to do with religion or someone’s religious views. But, this seems to be a political calculation on his part. Granted, he is a billion times better than the two war criminals that just departed but it is business as usual, or worse cowardice. I’m glad he opened the door a bit for gay Americans but if he had guts he would let that door swing wide open.

Posted by: tcsned at June 17, 2009 10:25 PM
Comment #283148

Obama carefully avoided on the campaign trail promising backing same-sex marriage if elected. In fact, he said he believed marriage is between a man and woman. This is only a problem for Obama if he loses the gay and lesbian vote, and probably not even then, if he still has the Independent voter majority.

However, the WSJ polls show he has lost 14% of the Independent voters approval in the last 2 months. That, I believe is a far greater problem for Obama’s reelection than the same-sex marriage crowd.

I side with Obama on this issue as a purely practical matter: Work to provide same-sex couples all the same privileges and entitlements as married couples, but, without the moniker of being called married by the federal government. After all, what’s in a name? If politics is the art of compromise, the G & L communities would do well to drop the demand for being called married in exchange for being treated as married.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 17, 2009 11:47 PM
Comment #283149

I might be mistaken, but I believe the demand for having the right to “get married” even when all the benefits of marriage are available under another name is mostly about a public acceptance of their lives. Just like with anything there will always be people who do not want to acknowledge the existence of things different than what they believe to be a societal norm. But in America we are supposed to rise above such catering to the discriminatory beliefs of any particular group.

The point is that marriage is not about what others believe, but what the two people getting married believe, and is even defined so in our laws. No state can refuse to marry any man or women based on the color of their skin or the beliefs they hold in their head, so why should people not be allowed to “be like everyone else” simply because another group of people cannot except it? America cannot be a land for everyone except for a few!

And as for his keeping politically safe, that just exacerbates his hypocrisy. If Obama truly is about change then he should prove it by throwing caution to the wind and do something that is right no matter the political consequences. He’s already president. That is unless he truly believes that the term marriage, not the concept, should only apply to a man and woman. How silly would that be when rendered down?

Posted by: Michael Falino at June 18, 2009 12:35 AM
Comment #283154

Politics are politics. As pointed out some states are seeing the light, the others will catch up. In ten years this will not be an issue. Considering that women’s suffrage was a battle of fifty years this is not too bad a track record. Right now there are some very big fish to fry. As we knew it would, the struggle to fundementaly change the nations health care delivery system is going to take a huge amount of political capital.It needs to have a degree of priority. If accomplished homosexuals will also benefit. Sorry, gay marriage is not the most important thing on the plate. Its not hypocracy, its political realism.Politics has been called the art of the possible.

Posted by: bills at June 18, 2009 6:52 AM
Comment #283161

The reason I am so upset with Obama for dropping the ball on this issue even though I see the political reasons for doing so is that this affects real people’s lives and their ability to keep a job, in the case of the military, and their property, health insurance, and benefits in the case of gay marriage, as well as their right as human beings to live the way they want without persecution from the government. There are enough small minded bigots out there who will always be there to call names, make bigoted claims using a bible, or do horrible things out of fear - they don’t need the government to join in. Asking someone to wait to get the full rights and privileges that everyone else has is unacceptable. It was unacceptable that black Americans had to wait more than a hundred years after the end of the Civil War for voting rights, education rights, and marriage rights. It was unacceptable that women had to wait until 1921 to receive full voting rights (though many had these rights before then). It is never acceptable to tell people to wait to fully become people in the eyes of the government. Obama should know this, and it is very disappointing that he knows this and does nothing. It’s not like it takes a huge amount of his time away from other issues to tell the military to stop firing gay and lesbian soldiers or to say the words “I believe gays and lesbians should have the same marriage rights as everyone else.” People only get one chance at life and telling someone to wait when something can be done right now is weak, cowardly, or just plain bigoted.

I voted for Obama in the primary and general election. I am certainly glad he is in office and not the the disastrous last president, John McCain, or even worse Sarah Palin. But I get more and more disappointed in how little he has actually done on the important issues. I am willing to give him some time before declaring his presidency a disaster but making political calculations like he has with gay and lesbian Americans is not starting off on a good path.

Posted by: tcsned at June 18, 2009 9:46 AM
Comment #283168

why is my comment being held, i’m not a first time poster?

Posted by: dbs at June 18, 2009 10:51 AM
Comment #283171

welllet’s see i changed the a word that might have possibly been offensive, doubt it, but i gave it a shot, and i was allowed to ask why my comment was being held, but was not allowed to post my updated comment, anyone…anyone….beuhler?

Posted by: dbs at June 18, 2009 10:57 AM
Comment #283175

mary had a little lamb its fleece was white as snow. testing testing HMMMMM?

Posted by: dbs at June 18, 2009 11:03 AM
Comment #283182


You are correct, it would not take much time at all or lessen the focus on any other critical issue to simply make a ten minute speech on national television to tell—order, since he is the commander in chief, no?—to stop discriminating against homosexuals. It isn’t as if there is a law to repeal. It’s simply a practice, and since that is all it is it makes the existence of DADT purely a discriminatory act based on personal belief and judgment. Marriage at least involves the passing and clarification of laws. DADT is just an accepted, bigoted practice.

Posted by: Michael Falino at June 18, 2009 12:16 PM
Comment #283188
I side with Obama on this issue as a purely practical matter: Work to provide same-s*e*x couples all the same privileges and entitlements as married couples, but, without the moniker of being called married by the federal government. After all, what’s in a name?

Kind of like ‘separate but equal’, right? Why does it matter if you have to ride the back of a bus, use different bathroom facilities or different water fountains, you are still getting to your destination, releiving yourself or getting some water, right?

Seems a bit ‘semantic’ of me for people in the 60s to be upset with that difference, they were getting the same results, right?

The fact is being treated as an equal, not obtaining the same end result while being told you aren’t as good as those other people, is very important and ridiculous in a country based on equality and freedom to be participating in.

Posted by: Rhinehold at June 18, 2009 1:47 PM
Comment #283201


“I believe the demand for having the right to “get married” even when all the benefits of marriage are available under another name is mostly about a public acceptance of their lives.”

exactly, so why try and force those who choose not to, to accept something they disagree with? you are not going to change public opinion, or gain acceptance by ramming it down thier throats. what you will do is stir up a hornets nest of resentment that will only serve to bite you in the rear. if the G&L community can accomplish the task of securing the same benefits then it makes no sense to cut off your nose to spite your face

Posted by: dbs at June 18, 2009 5:58 PM
Comment #283206


you have to pick and choose your battles, and i would say achieveing the same privileges would be the more important battle at this time. arguing about a word at the expense of the important things such as property, and survival rights is counter productive. secure the impotant things first, and then argue over the word. got to side with david on this one.

Posted by: dbs at June 18, 2009 6:12 PM
Comment #283240


That’s the exact same mentality that got us ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ and you can see how successful that has been to achieving equal rights.

I’m sorry if I’m just a silly nancy who thinks that providing and accepting equal rights for all americans is somehow worth fighting for. Accepting less is not acceptable, as it were. Allowing those who would violate the rights of the individual to succeed is achieving nothing.

got to side with david on this one.

Color me surprised on that. Of course, if the left were actually interested in defending individual rights, they wouldn’t be doing half of the nonsense that they are doing today. It’s not about that, it’s about power.

I feel like Diogenes only I’m looking for a principled man instead of just a human…

Still looking.

Posted by: rhinehold at June 19, 2009 2:03 AM
Comment #283245

RE: I am with you. All civil marriages are civil unions. Lets start calling them that. It is not the business of the state to sanctify anything. That is the province of religion.
Still,in the scheme of things gay marriage is not vital priority for most people and the good of the country. It ranks right up there with legalizing pot etc. Sooner or later its going to happen. The expenditure of political capital at this time has been deemed not worth the cost. This may be an unhappy conclusion but probably an accurate one. After all, we need that political capital to strip you of your right to spend 10 times more than you should for an operation that you most likely did not need anyway.

Posted by: bills at June 19, 2009 5:32 AM
Comment #283250

When it comes down to it, no human being should have to nor be expected to wait one second to have the same rights as everyone else. Every second that passes is a second where this country has first class and second class citizens. While marriage may not be a priority for everyone, the fact that it is a priority for anyone should be enough. Every person that gets fired from the military for something that trivial is one more person’s life who gets destroyed because of pure bigotry. The state’s interest in the institution of marriage is as a business relationship all that other crap that the religious conservatives throw out is placing their own misguided values on the rest of the country and has no place in a free society.

Once again, we can’t blame the homophobes in the GOP for this one, it lies squarely with the Democratic Party. It is criminal to make political calculations with one’s civil rights. Two thumbs down for my party.

Posted by: tcsned at June 19, 2009 7:49 AM
Comment #283253


i don’t really see a parallel between don’t ask don’t tell and calling something a civil union as opposed to a marriage. if they receive the same rights to property,and can file joint tax returns, and so on. they don’t have to hide thier life style, and can go anywhere they choose just like you and i can then it’s not the same as don’t ask don’t tell.

there are churches that will marry them if they so choose. the only difference i can see would be the name for the union printed on the legal document. if it’s two of the opposite gender, it’s a marriage, if it’s of the same gender it’s a civil union. they, and you and i can call it anything we choose. the main thing is the privileges the go along with it.

BTW i don’t think you’re a silly nancy ;-)

Posted by: dbs at June 19, 2009 8:47 AM
Comment #283256

I think you are the closest, “The expenditure of political capital at this time has been deemed not worth the cost.”
It’s a sad excuse, but I think you are right.

“all that other crap that the religious conservatives throw out is placing their own misguided values on the rest of the country and has no place in a free society”

You seem to be forgetting one very important aspect for the Dems on this issue, that being that black Americans, as a group, overwhelmingly vote against gay rights.
Democratic voters are as just at fault as those they elect on this issue.

I don’t think its bigotry or a phobia in most cases either. I think most people just find it gross. (Except for chicks, then its hot)
A human condition we are growing out of? Hopefully. But it will be even slower if we keep ignoring those certain parts.

Posted by: kctim at June 19, 2009 9:21 AM
Comment #283259

Funny, Obama seems to have enough time to have a news conference about the importance of fatherhood, but can’t find 15 minutes to tell the military which, I believe, he is in charge of, that they can’t discriminate against gay people anymore, or say that it is time for the defense of marriage act to be struck down.

Yeah, priorities.

What a cop out, seriously.

And it is getting old. So the economy is a real issue? Why is it then that he can’t even spend the time to get his staff completed this far into his presidency yet he is taking on all of these other things, until it comes down to something that won’t garner him any votes, then he’s too busy.

Posted by: rhinehold at June 19, 2009 10:45 AM
Comment #283260


“I think most people just find it gross. (Except for chicks, then its hot)”

i don’t know if i’m supposed to laugh, but i am LOL!!!!

Posted by: dbs at June 19, 2009 11:12 AM
Comment #283262

You are exactly right Rhinehold - it’s a cop out plain and simple

kctim - your right that the fault lies squarely with the Democratic Party and President Obama - the only authority any one in the GOP has is because the Dems are being their usual spineless selves and giving voice to people who did not do the same for them when the GOP had the reigns. Not to say that the GOP isn’t riddled with extreme homophobes and hate-mongers but they should be currently irrelevant homophobes and hate-mongers.

I do also understand the resistance to gay rights with typical Democratic constituencies (not just African-American). That is why it is important to show some leadership on the issue and that isn’t happening. They have done a poor job framing the issues and have done even worse at getting them out in front of the public.

Posted by: tcsned at June 19, 2009 11:41 AM
Comment #283264

Its funny because its true.
Jon Rice asked about this in his “Why Do You Care” post, only he was suggesting it was kind of right-wing fear job. Its not. Its a human trait that crosses party lines and only time will fix that.

I don’t blame the Dem party or the Obama for taking it slow. I believe BillS is correct when he suggested people feel there are more pressing matters at hand. I support gay rights 100%, but the reality is that both parties need to work on their people and give them some time to adjust or it could blow up in their face. The Democrats especially.

I agree with you that certain people should be irrelevant, but those kind of people are in both parties and I believe it hurts the goal when we ignore certain groups.

Posted by: kctim at June 19, 2009 12:04 PM
Comment #283275

kctim - practically speaking you are probably right. And yes, there are probably more important things that need to get done right now. However, there’s something that really rubs me the wrong way about having to wait till people feel comfortable with others’ right to be treated the same way everyone else is. Waiting for that usually means nothing gets done. Those people will probably never feel comfortable for whatever their reasons are with gay and lesbian Americans to be treated equally under the law. People are losing their jobs with the military today, people’s partners are denied health benefits today - it is urgent.

Posted by: tcsned at June 19, 2009 2:41 PM
Comment #283280

Yes, it is urgent for me also and I wish it could all change tomorrow.
I am in total agreement with you Tom, well said.

Posted by: kctim at June 19, 2009 4:08 PM
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