Don't read this, President Obama. My words aren't what matter.
Here's what I, Jeremy Hooper, believe:
- I do think some of the criticism of the president has been an exercise in unfairly piling on. While much of the outrage has been spot-on and appropriate (DADT, DOJ brief, etc), I have found some of it to be kind of "oh, come on!"-inducing. After all, it has only been nine months. And there have been positives that I find real and genuine, yet am told to not celebrate because of lack of action/bumbling in other areas.
- I do believe it's unfair to play into the "cocktail party A-gays" vs. "scruffy grassroots gays" meme. There's much overlap between the groups, and there's a tone of almost far right-ian hostility within this us/them game.
- I do not think that our president is "homophobic" by any stretch of the imagination. I think he wants to do what's right, and probably even himself feels annoyed with some of the limits that he's been told he has to adopt in order to appease the political/Democratic/presidential/mainstream/whatever machine.
- I do think the LGBT community's slate of demands is a hefty one. But I also believe that we deserve every last item on our docket, and that all of them are decades overdue.
But here's the thing: At the end of the day, it doesn't really matter how I see all this. It doesn't really matter how Pam Spaulding sees all this. It doesn't really matter how Hillary Rosen, Dan Savage, Daniel Choi, and Michelangelo Signorile (in Brady Bunch squares) see all this. It doesn't matter which of the countless different messages you will hear at the National Equality March most closely fits which faction within the human rights community who supports equality for all. It doesn't matter how the organized anti-gay movement (in all its various permeations) sees all this. Because none of us, individually or even jointly, are really the force that President Barack Obama is up against when it comes to civil rights for LGBT people. On this path towards doing what is unabashedly and unashamedly right, the "battle" is between an administration that needs to do what's right, that seemingly wants to do what's right, and in most cases has promised us will do what's right vs. a constitution that either does or does not cover/protect us all equally!
If I say that I find him offensively wrong when he maintains the "one man, one woman = marriage" nonsense, you may cheer me on. My voice may then get picked up and recited. But who cares about all that, really? What really matters is that right now, in America, there is a system of government and body of civil laws that promise one thing for ALL citizens, yet fails to deliver on that promise. And so when President Barack Obama, A TRAINED PROFESSIONAL IN CONSTITUTIONAL LAW, considers matters like marriage equality, it doesn't really matter all that much if he listens to the firm but fair voice for change, the raging activist who screams out at him in public, the political pundit who supports incrementalism, or the six-year-old girl who begs this inspiring leader to help send a message to the world that her family is as "right" and "normal" as any other. What matters is what is ACCURATE in this nation of laws. What is FAIR in this church-state separated country. What form of treatment should be EMBOLDENED in this great land of the free. That conversation is between the president and his own learned mind, compassionate heart, and principled spine.
I like this President very, very much. I have commenters on this site who have flat-out called him a homophobe. The media finds dissension within the LGBT ranks sexy, and so much ink during this National Equality March weekend being spilled around the "why can't gays get on the same page?" question. But who the frick cares which of us POTUS sees as most palatable, or who the media deems worthy of using to represent whatever point they desire to make? We can make and drive home the points, but until this administration changes its own purview, we are not going to get where we need to be. At the end of the day (and at the end of his speeches), I want to be left knowing that my president values the basic civil liberties that all of us, by virtue of our citizenship, are supposed to hold dear. The only paper he needs to read to find that sort of advice starts with the line "We the people...."; the main protestations he needs to hear come from the historical clocks that refuse to run backwards.
I know you say he shouldn't read it...but I sent it to him anyway! Good one JH.
Posted by: LOrion | Oct 11, 2009 12:47:27 AM
Excellent post. I agree with you totally.
I think one important point he also made is that we are not just made up of our sexual orientations. We are also Americans and that means that we also need reformed health care, banking reform, etc., and JOBS! I want all my rights NOW, too. But let the man take care of other issues, because if we (gay and straight) don't have a job (like I don't right now), nothing else really matters.
Posted by: Michael | Oct 11, 2009 1:22:56 AM
Only how do you know he values our civil rights? The Constitution doesn't really tell him much beyond "equal protection" (and what's the history of attentiveness to this either in the 1787 Constitution or in the 14th Amendment?) and "full faith and credit" (and read Andrew Koppelman to understand how this has never applied to marriage in these United States).
Words, words, words. Until he does something, don't complain if some of us try to hold his feet to the fire.
Posted by: Dave in Northridge | Oct 11, 2009 2:11:55 AM
"Only how do you know he values our civil rights?"
I don't. That's why I said this administration *seemingly* wants to do what's right. I'm taking it on faith.
"Words, words, words. Until he does something, don't complain if some of us try to hold his feet to the fire."
There are few who will do more to hold his feet to the fire than I will, Dave.
Posted by: G-A-Y | Oct 11, 2009 8:39:18 AM
He values our rights, but only as far as second-class citizenship. Without support for full equality, he'll always be a "Well, at least he's better than the alternative" president.
He claims to value our rights, but then why is he firing gay and lesbian servicemembers? If I went in to work tomorrow, and my boss said, "I value your work, but I'm not going to pay you anymore," I wouldn't feel very valued. His continued abuse of gay and lesbian servicemembers speaks louder than any words ever could.
No one who values equality would ever fire a lesbian for being a lesbian. But that's exactly what Barack Obama is doing. He values gays and lesbians so little that he won't even lift a pen to stop injustice.
Posted by: Mark | Oct 11, 2009 9:19:33 AM
Two words, Jeremy - Thank you
Posted by: a. mcewen | Oct 11, 2009 9:51:13 AM
Posted by: Piper | Oct 11, 2009 11:39:14 AMcomments powered by Disqus