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02/13/2007

That's great, Mr O. -- but what about the 'issue' at hand?

by Jeremy Hooper

Picture 2-61From the AP, this recount from Sen. Barack Obama's appaerance yesterday at the University of New Hampshire:

He also repeated his stance on gay marriage - that civil unions are fine, but marriage is a religious bond.

"I believe that every American has basic rights that have to be respected," said Obama, who noted that his parents perhaps broke the law when they entered into a biracial marriage in the 1960s.

Which is great, Mr. Obama, except for one little thing -- WE'RE NOT TALKING ABOUT RELIGIOUS MARRIAGE!!!!!! Why are so many people letting this idea go unchallenged?! No matter how deeply spiritual or connected to their faith one may be, the religious aspect of their marriage has not one ounce of legal standing! Religion is not a requirement for applicants, and those who never miss a Sunday of worship are no more bonded than those who are atheists. Unless we've been misinformed and Mr. Obama is bucking for president of the National Association of Evangelicals, his views on religious marriage are a really inappropriate justification!

It is so unbelievably absurd that we continue to talk about this issue in these terms. It's likely because the image of getting hitched at an altar or under a chuppah is one that is burned into our brain. With gay marriages just as in gender-discrodinant ones, the optional religious component will surely be employed by many, many couples of faith. However, that will be a choice, just as it currently is for heterosexual duos. And for those who choose to not go the religious route, this common connection of marriage to religion is a tad bit offensive! Just like the Washington initiative that is challenging the idea that kids are some sort of marital requirement, perhaps we need another proposal in which non-believers question how others can be so bold in staking more of a claim to the nuptial pie, simply because they believe!

Sure, it's likely Mr. Obama is taking the "pro-civil unions, anti-gay marriage" stance in order to enhance his electability, and that he'll "evolve" on this issue. And we like Barack, we really, really do. But if our potential Democratic leaders cannot or will not challenge what would seem to be such a huge misrepresentation of this culture war "issue," then who will?

Obama has easy trip to New Hampshire [AP via Mercury News]

**Oh, and Mr. Obama: Perhaps you should compare the kinds of reasons why your parents' marriage was once deemed inappropriate with those being employed against gay folks circa 2007.

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Your thoughts

Show me just one example of any way me getting married to Bob, detracts from, cheapens, changes in any way the straight marriage next door. No religious marriage, just marrage. Straight couples who have civil unions are considered married. It's also a little arrogant to say you "KNOW" what a possible "GOD" wants or belives. If you do belive, it's kind of up the him/her to decide right or wrong for me and I belive he/she told you so. First stone, judge not, and all that. Can't pick and choose the parts that are convienent for you.

Posted by: lee | Feb 13, 2007 11:55:07 AM

As much as I agree with you when it comes to the theory and the point, the reality is that Obama, or any other candidate, is extremely unlikely to win if they're openly in favour of full and equal same-sex marriage at this point in time.

Politics, as much as we may wish it didn't, comes down to compromise. Which would you prefer, a Democrat who's in favour of civil unions in the White House, or another gay hating Republican there, after kicking the ass of the Democrat who's in favour of full same-sex marriage, and who would have faced an uphill battle to win half of America based on just one policy?

Yes it's unfair, yes, separate isn't equal, but civil unions are a start, both legally and socially. Besides the wider implications for your country if you end up with another Bushite in the White House, civil unions (especially if mandated by the government), give same-sex couples rights they wouldn't otherwise have, and desperately need.

Don't get me wrong, your argument is good and right, but it's just not realistic in the US, not just yet.

Posted by: julian | Feb 13, 2007 1:37:24 PM

Julian, your comments are of course understood, thus the reason for acknowledgment of the politics behind the issue in saying "Sure, it's likely Mr. Obama is taking the "pro-civil unions, anti-gay marriage" stance in order to enhance his electability..." But the point of the article is that his argument is wholly wrong. Now, do we actually expect Democratic presidential candidates to fully acknowledge that the religious argument is a flawed one? NO. But will we challenge any and everyone for making such a misrepresentation (which gives credence to our opposition's claims). ABSOLUTELY.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Feb 13, 2007 2:43:38 PM

No presidential candidate who is serious about winning the office is going to publicly favor marriage equality. I don't like it, but its reality. As I see it, its our responsibility to push the issue and by doing so help to shape the discussion about full equality under the law for LGBT people.

I am a huge supporter of Obama despite his not being where I want him to be on the marriage front. There will be a day when we will achieve full marriage rights and that day will come sooner if we continue to advocate for it.

Posted by: Bloggernista | Feb 13, 2007 6:52:41 PM

Agreed, Bloggernista. And we need to remember that we can both (a) support a candidate and (b) challenge him/her to look at any and every issue in new ways!

Posted by: G-A-Y | Feb 13, 2007 9:33:39 PM

He has mentioned in his book that as a Christian, he has to recognize that his "unwillingness to support gay marriage may be misguided" - which, to me, is code for "I support same-sex marriage, but my campaign will go to hell." He came up here to MA to campaign for Deval Patrick, who openly supports same-sex marriage. (Then again, the governor's office is less ideology and more practical matters.)

As for the Republicans, I don't know how many of them actually hate gay people. I think that, at least in Washington, they're more or less apathetic to sexual orientation, but they put blocking glbt rights on their agenda because their electability would get a short-term boost from visceral reactions to the idea of gay rights. (Of course, that's a dirty and devious method that messes with the lives of their constituents, but that's what I think they're doing, more than anything.)

Still, Obama '08.

Posted by: jaj | Feb 14, 2007 7:15:07 AM

You're right about the statements in his book, jaj, and it's highly likely that Obama is with us more than he currently feels able to let on. But again -- we're going to challenge these misrepresentations.

And no, I don't think many politicians of either party hold real contempt for gay people. In some strange way, it makes their political antipathy even more disgusting.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Feb 14, 2007 8:27:44 AM

iam voting for the first time this year and i believe that its wrong that america is so quick to vote against someone with morality or more so just a plain good person. homosexual matrimony will be looked upon in the future the same way we look upon the civil rights act today. " oh how could we as americans have been so stupid and coldhearted back then" is what students will say when they learn about this in class 10 15 years from now. i dont care about his standings i will vote for him because i believe that it is time for america to change, and so i could say that i voted for someone who can change the world....obama 08

Posted by: Sage | Jun 17, 2007 7:49:35 AM

Sage: I'm a little confused by your assessment. All we are saying in this post is that Mr. Obama shouldn't be muddying the waters between the "religious" and the "civil" in terms of marriage. You are right that future generations will look back in disbelief when remembering this who "fight." But we're just trying to say that if Dems like Obama would stop "poll-watching" and take a truly righteous, moral stand on gay marriage -- which includes taking the time to explain to the public the diff. between religious and civil marriage -- then we could get to that day sooner rather than later.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Jun 17, 2007 10:05:10 PM

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