Yesterday was historic. For the first time, a sitting President publicly supported same-sex marriage. Barack Obama continues to make history.
There’s a lot to say about this. But I want our commenters to say it. I’ll provide some thoughts to get you started, and ask some provocative questions. You get to answer them.
There are implications for society, for politics, and for morality. There are issues of religion, of civil rights, and for electoral math. Let’s talk.
In an era in which politicians often struggle to say the most bland and inoffensive things, the President came out with a bold and controversial statement. Or did he? Polls for the last decade have been steadily moving in this direction, toward greater acceptance of same-sex marriage. Yes, there are those who will disapprove of the President’s position. But does he have a majority (or at least a plurality) behind him? Is it really that controversial anymore?
Are American politicians are becoming increasingly bland? Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum were anything but restrained in their extremism. But then they lost, and Mitt Romney has been a perfect pander bear in his drive to say what the group he’s with wants to hear. So, was the President’s statement brave, or nothing unusual?
Interestingly, this is one topic on which Mitt hasn’t been wishy-washy. On the topic of same-sex marriage, Mitt insists this is one area he will never reconsider. He’s opposed, completely, unshakingly, unquiveringly. Will that help him or hurt him? Or will he soon start equivocating despite his previous statements of unwavering principle?
In the past couple of weeks, there’s been a confluence of events: a senior Romney operative who may have been encouraged to resign for the crime of RWG (Republican While Gay). Vice President Biden expressed support for same-sex marriage in public. (Was that a trial balloon? Weigh in on the idea.) North Carolina enacted a doubly-unnecessary anti-rights amendment that will restrict a whole bunch of things — but not gay marriage, since that was already illegal in North Carolina.
And yesterday, the President came out. So to speak, anyway…he said same-sex couples should have the same rights as mixed-gender couples. Is all this coincidence? Was any of it orchestrated? Put on your tinfoil hat.
Does it make sense to keep putting civil rights up to a popular vote? Would blacks have ever obtained equal rights in the United States if we had done that? Would they still be slaves? What do you think?
Is the President’s statement going to affect the November elections? Will it drive his opponents to the polls, or fire up his supporters? Will gay Republicans consider whether they prefer a President who supports their rights, even if he differs with them on other issues…or one who wants to deny them? Will President Obama lose any votes, or any states, that he would otherwise have won? Will the support of gay-rights groups push him over the top in any states? Will gay rights groups think of this as too little, too late?
What are the moral implications? Did the morality of the nation suffer when women were given the vote, or when it became legal everywhere for a black man to marry a white woman? Are these analogies appropriate, or are the rights of homosexuals somehow different altogether?
Does this infringe on anyone’s religious rights? No one has recommended that churches who are opposed to same-sex marriage should be forced to perform them. But is it possible that the law could move in that direction? Would we need a different Supreme Court before such a question even needs to be asked?
Or is all of this too much noise over nothing? Does the opinion of the President on this really make much difference? Does anyone think the President will actively campaign on this issue, will make it into a major election-year issue, or will construct major policy on this point? Does this presage a second-term drive to repeal DOMA?
Will the Republican opposition make this into a major election-year issue? If they do, will this energize 18-to-35-year-olds to vote against them? Will Republican voter ID laws make it more difficult for those 18-to-35-year-olds to vote anyway? What will the Independents think? Is anyone enough of a single-issue voter for this to matter?
What about the media? Acceptance of same-sex relationships has been a rising theme on TV and in the movies. Is the media in the tank for gays? What will this mean for all that Citizens United money that’s going to be spent trying to make people very afraid of same-sex marriage?
And why should anyone be afraid of same-sex marriage? Are mixed-gender marriages so weak that happy same-sex couples will be a threat to someone else’s happiness? Is that irrelevant — is same-sex marriage just morally wrong?
At moments when a historic even occurs, there always are more questions than answers. What questions have I missed?
- Obama says he supports same-sex marriage(whitehouse.blogs.cnn.com)
- The President’s Marriage Announcement(thedailybeast.com)
- Obama: ‘I think same-sex couples should be able to get married’(firstread.msnbc.msn.com)
- Obama first U.S. president to back same-sex marriage(ctv.ca)
- President Barack Obama: Same-sex marriage should be legal, in his opinion(wjla.com)
- Obama Finally & Belatedly ‘Mans Up’ On Same-Sex Marriage(themoderatevoice.com)
- Mitt Romney reaffirms opposition to gay marriage(abcnews.go.com)
- Obama backs same-sex marriage (dailystar.com.lb)
- Romney says his views on same-sex marriage haven’t changed (politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com)
About dcpetterson (186 posts)
D. C. Petterson is a novelist and a software consultant in Minnesota who has been writing science fiction since the age of six. He is the author of A Melancholy Humour, Rune Song and Still Life. He lives with his wife, two dogs, two cats, and a lizard, and insists that grandchildren are the reward for having survived teenagers. When not writing stories or software, he plays guitar and piano, engages in political debate, and reads a lot of history and physics texts—for fun. Follow on Twitter @dcpetterson