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Video: A change we wish he'd believe in

by Jeremy Hooper

California may be marrying gay couples even as we write this. Barack Obama, however, still has cold feet:

"I believe marriage is between a man and a woman." Wow, that's really starting to sound more and more hostile. Why is this the one offensive, code word-laden meme that the Dems think the far-right got right?!

As CA Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage, Obama's Position is Unchanged [Towle]

**UPDATE, 6/19: Sara Whitman has posted some thoughts on the subject over on The Bilerico Project:

Shut the hell up [Bilerico]

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Your thoughts

So he supports civil unions, as long as they have benefits, such as being able to visit a loved-one in a hospital.

Separate but "equal" institutions? Good job Obama.

Posted by: | Jun 16, 2008 11:17:19 PM

But to be fair he did say that he supports the California decision and is against any move to amend the Constitution to repeal it.

He also said a year or so back that he was evolving on the subject and knew that he had room to grow.

Let's remember that Al Gore AND Howard Dean BOTH said they supported civil unions but were against same-sex marriage when they were running for president but BOTH have since come out in full support of FULL marriage equality.

As a UCC member I have no doubt that Obama personally supports marriage equality too but he knows that, at this point in time, it would be political suicide to say so and he feels that he shouldn't throw away what he has to offer America taking that stand at this point. He loudly, proudly and repeatedly has said that he wants legal equality for gay and lesbian relationship recognition but AT THIS TIME he feels that Civil Unions are the best way to accomplish it.

Ideally that sucks but practically I grudgingly agree with him.

Posted by: Zeke | Jun 16, 2008 11:23:21 PM

Jeremy, I think Obama is coming at this from a Constitutional scholar perspective. If we have any prayer of attaining the legal rights of marriage, we need to build up A LOT more precedent in case law. Shouting out the M-word rhetoric will only manage to drive our bigotted enemies to the poles so that they can defeat us AGAIN.

Posted by: Alex | Jun 16, 2008 11:30:56 PM

Maybe he's just bitter because some of us won't be voting for him due to his relationship with Patti LaBelle.

I mean, Donnie McClurkin.

Posted by: Scott | Jun 17, 2008 6:06:27 AM

Zeke, Alex: As a marriage equality advocate, I will call into question ANYONE of any political affiliation who uses the "I believe marriage is between a man and a woman" line. So that is what I have done.

No need to sell me on the guy. Look, if you pay attention to this site, it's pretty obvious who I'll be voting/fighting/cheering for. Proudly, even. But I will not give him a pass on this, just as I never gave a pass to Gore/Dean/Kerry/etc. He can take the pragmatic approach that he and most Dems feel they need to use in order to get elected (which I fully understand), but I have no choice but to challenge the logic behind it.

We have to speak up and show everyone why the offensively short-sighted approach should not be needed. If we don't challenge this stance now, why are we to believe we will see any movement on this issue in the future?! If we don't challenge the idea that civil unions are an acceptable stop-gap, then we allow the general public to swallow the message that our equal rights are up for negotiation, and that a less-than-equal system is good enough to serve our needs. I, for one, am not willing to remain silent while those ideas go forth.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Jun 17, 2008 7:33:25 AM

I think we all know gay marriage needs to happen. But it's naive to think at this time a major candidate can openly come out in favor of it if he wants to be elected. Gay marriage is coming, but civil unions may have to come first.

Is it an acceptable substitute? No. Separate is not equal. But we're not facing a choice between gay marriage and civil unions. We're facing a choice between civil unions and NOTHING. But if we insist that we need gay marriage, and we need it now, we're not going to get it. We're going to get nothing, and set the whole process back.

We'll get gay marriage, but we just need to take it step by step.

Posted by: The Watcher | Jun 17, 2008 2:03:14 PM

I don't know if anyone listens to Larry Flick on OutQ in the mornings (Sirius) but he said something really dead on this morning. To drive home the whole obnoxious and patronizing idea that heterosexuals believe that the best way to for gays to achieve equality is with civil unions, he said that he is does not feel comfortable with a black man being President because a white man has always been President. He suggested that Barack Obama run instead for "Head Civil Servant." He would have all the same rights and responsibilities as President; he just wouldn't be allowed to call himself one.

Posted by: | Jun 17, 2008 2:26:56 PM

The Watcher: If you're referring to me, I'm not being "naive." I understand and have acknowledged political realities. However, I am not going to hear a line like "I believe marriage is between a man and a woman" and not challenge it. None of us should. The marriage equality issue is a conversation, and we have to hold up our end!

I also think it's a little short-sighted to say "We're facing a choice between civil unions and NOTHING." That is not even close to true -- we have achieved state-level marriage equality in two states now, and are getting close in others. Yes it's still a long road ahead, but it's not as dire as I think you are putting it.

As for the suggestion that by calling politicans' less-than-stellar comments into question, we insisting "that we need gay marriage, and we need it now, we're not going to get it": There is a HUGE difference between pressing society to reconsider their short-sighted stances and making unreasonable demands. I think you need to be careful about lumping one's irresponsible demands in with another's responsible discourse.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Jun 17, 2008 2:28:40 PM

Just so you know Jeremy, I am not only a marriage advocate but I am a full time marriage equality activist. I have a full time staff position with Fairness for All Families campaign here in Florida where we are working to defeat Amendment 2 in November. Additionally I have been with my husband for almost 17 years (we married in Toronto in 2003) and we have a thirteen year old son.

I fully understand the desire to have a presidential candidate who would publicly support full civil marriage equality. However, I'm not so naive as to think that ANY candidate could do so at this point in time and have any chance of winning an election for president. I might not like that, you might not like that, but that is an undeniable fact.

Knowing this full well I can't understand why you act as if this is not true and act as if Obama could give any other answer REGARDLESS of what he might actually think. I don't for one minute believe that Dean and Gore CHANGED their opinions to personally support marriage equality after they were no longer presidential candidates. The PERSONALLY supported it when they were candidates but they toed the line and said that they believed marriage should be between a man and a woman. That's life in the politics and it's life in the real word. It may suck but it just is.

I still believe that Obama personally supports marriage equality, and has hinted as much in more intimate gatherings, but he could never let that be known publicly. I grudgingly accept that for now. He will move us forward incrementally in the most practical way possible.

We can either demand everything all at once and bitch about anything less and get NOTHING or we can work to take the next step forward and with each step the next one comes faster and goes further.

I do read your blog and I do know your positions on Obama and just about everything else. This is one of my favorite blogs. I admire and respect you greatly but that doesn't mean that I agree with every single word you say.

Posted by: Zeke | Jun 19, 2008 12:03:18 AM

Nor am I naive to political pragamatism, Zeke, and I think it's a little unfair to suggest otherwise considering that I have acknowledged the political realities. I am simply saying that even with these political realities, we can still bring up the ACTUAL REALITIES and stand up for our lives!

Let's have a reality check here: The only point I brought up in the initial post was the "marriage is between a man and a woman" comment. Why? Because that point is offensive! It'd be offensive if it came from the mouth of Obama, Bush, McCain, Clinton, Gore, Kerry, my mom, Sean Hannity, Howard Dean, or ANYONE. It is a right wing meme that has kept us down. If the Dems are to propagate this meme, then how can we expect there to be considerable movement on this issue? How are we to expect the American public to have their consciousness raised if the organized pushback to the attacks are more of the same?!

I also think that Obama, Clinton, and most every prominent Dem (and some Republicans) support marriage behind closed doors. I also believe that there will be a progression, and that there is a true need to be smart about the way they handle their stances. However, as "marriage advocate," "full time marriage equality activist," or simply as a proudly gay person (there should be no game of "who holds the more right to speak out" here), there is a valid reason to call the organized leader's stances into question (and that person should not be trivialized as "demand[ing] everything all at once and bitch[ing] about anything less") One can work to connect the dots on these issues and still remain pragmatic.

I'm not asking for anyone to agree with every single word I say, Zeke, and I don't really understand why you would think that. I'm simply saying my piece and defending my stances.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Jun 19, 2008 7:49:35 AM

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