Friday, July 25, 2008

Barack Obama and John McCain on Gay Marriage - And Why I Can't Hold A Bake Sale

I wanna bake cookies. Big chocolate chip cookies. But I have a problem.

Barack Obama

Heavy Sigh.
Politics can be so disheartening.

I want to jump on the Barack Obama bandwagon and cheer and lead the parade, bake my chocolate chip cookies, and hold a bake sale to raise money for his campaign - anything to get this more progressive, more level-headed guy into the White House so we can start to fix everything that's gone so terribly wrong in the last 8 years of George W. Bush.

The war in Iraq.

Our foreign policy in... well, almost EVERYwhere.

The Economy.

The ridiculous state of health care and how insurance companies are taking all the money that could otherwise be used to have universal coverage and healthier lives for all of us.

The slanting of the Judiciary away from personal rights and towards corporate rights.

The preference in all three branches of government for oil companies over preparing the U.S. for a Green future.

The destruction of our environment (under the guise of federal programs that in Orwellian logic increase the amount of mercury in water the government allows and yet are called "the clean water act."

The list goes on and on...

But I'm held back from true, deep enthusiasm.


here's a video to watch...

Now, I fully acknowledge that Barack Obama would be WORLDS better - in so many ways, and especially when we look at gay rights - than John McCain, whose original support of state's rights to allow gay marriage has morphed into out-and-out efforts to TAKE AWAY gay marriage.

In fact, here's a great illustration of McCain's change on this issue (shall we call a "flip flop" a "flip-flop," everyone?) that reveals that he's so desperate for socially conservative votes that he's willing to throw us (the GLBTQ community) under the proverbial bus to get them...

Click here to see an article talking about how back in 2004 McCain was against a federal constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage


Click here to read an article on how in 2008, McCain is supporting the initiative to amend the California constitution to ban gay marriage

Also to HIS credit, Barack Obama did release a statement -that while not coming out in FAVOR or APPROVING of gay marriage in California, at least he came out AGAINST the initiative to take away the new legal rights of gay and lesbians to marry.

In a letter to the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club, Barack Obama earlier this July spoke out against Proposition 8:

I am proud to join with and support the LGBT community in an effort to set our nation on a course that recognizes LGBT Americans with full equality under the law. That is why I support extending fully equal rights and benefits to same-sex couples under both state and federal law. That is why I support repealing the Defense of Marriage Act and the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy, and the passage of laws to protect LGBT Americans from hate crimes and employment discrimination. And that is why I oppose the divisive and discriminatory efforts to amend the California Constitution, and similar efforts to amend the U.S. Constitution or those of other states.

For too long, issues of LGBT rights have been exploited by those seeking to divide us. It's time to move beyond polarization and live up to our founding promise of equality by treating all our citizens with dignity and respect.

It's like Barack Obama has been told "You can't say you support gay marriage. You can say equal rights. You can say equal benefits. But if you go ahead like Gavin Newsom

Gavin Newsom

(The Mayor of San Francisco who was brave enough to be a straight politician making history in his light-years-ahead-of-everyone-else support of Same Sex Marriage)

and flat-out SAY Gays and Lesbians should be allowed to be MARRIED, you're never going to be President. And put on a flag lapel pin already, for Campaign's sake!"

And yet... In so many ways Barack Obama is a great ally for our GLBTQ community. Here's his statement for Gay Pride Month (June 2008):

Chicago, IL -- Senator Barack Obama today released the following statement commemorating Pride month.

“I am proud to join with our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered brothers and sisters in celebrating the accomplishments, the lives, and the families of all LGBT people during this Pride season. Too often, the issue of LGBT rights is exploited by those seeking to divide us. But at its core, this issue is about who we are as Americans.”

“It’s time to live up to our founding promise of equality by treating all our citizens with dignity and respect. Let’s enact federal civil rights legislation to outlaw hate crimes and protect workers against discrimination based upon sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. Let’s repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell and demonstrate that the most effective and professional military in the world is open to all Americans who are ready and willing to serve our country. Let’s treat the relationships and the families of LGBT Americans with full equality under the law.”

“We are ready to accomplish these goals because of the courage and persistence of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people who have are working every day to achieve equal rights. The gay couple who demand equal treatment in our family laws as they raise their children; the lesbian soldier who wants nothing more than to serve her country openly and honestly; the transgendered workers who asks for the simple dignity of being judged by the quality of their work. Generations of LGBT Americans, at once ordinary and extraordinary, have made possible this moment in our history. With leadership and hard work, we can fulfill the promise of equality for all.”

No question about it. On Gay rights, Barack Obama is miles ahead of where we are today. He's willing to take down legal barriers we face, to protect us from discrimination on the job and in the military...

But, I can't help but wish he could stand up proud for us - with us - for ALL our rights. For my marriage, too. It would really help me stand up proud for him.

Maybe he needs to be elected President, first.

We'll see....

And in the meantime, I'll keep the ingredients for my chocolate chip cookies in the kitchen. Just in case.

Oh, and Mr. Newsom - let me know when you're up for re-election. I'll have a bake sale for you.




Anonymous said...

Lee, I've been feeling the same way. I'm hoping against hope this won't be another Clinton "let's make life so much better for gay and lesbian servicemen through a don't-ask-don't-tell-policy" kind of thing. I've been telling myself Obama's taking as strong a stance as he feels strategically possible. I think good changes are in store if he makes it to the White House.

Keith said...

I don't know you personally or even as an electronically, but I came across your blog and thought i'd comment.

I'm leery of the vocabulary in Obama's speech to help propel the equal treatment of the GLBTQ community when it's "under the law."

The quotes you've supplied by Obama seem to presuppose a kind of larger nationalistic and heteronormative assimilation of queer culture that compromises the rights of gltbq members not willing to "server the country" in the military or have our sexual/personal relationships defined and deemed acceptable by the political/capitalist/heteronormative institution of marriage.

Shouldn't we seek instead, at all costs, a more encompassing policy that places the rights of even the most marginalized queers on equal footing as the socially-acceptable white middle class monogomous ones? The avid selling of marriage as the GLTBQ community's most significant issue often only criminalizes and alienates members whose sexual, racial, and economic politics deviate from the idea that marriage and our "right" to join the military are signs of progress.

It's as if Obama has it half right; with his fervor for creating discrimination free work environments complimentary to the otherwise ignored issue of equal medical and health rights to anyone who exists outside of the nuclear family prototype.

What happens to the queers who want nothing to do with marriage; who do not support the military; who do not want to take part in the larger capitalistic endeavours our nation supports at the expense of minorities (immigrants, the poor, non-whites, etc). As a queer, I have a problem with more than just the way the GLTBQ community is treated on a "legal" (read: by the books) level. I have issue with capitalism, foreign policy, (the lack of) a more universal and sustainable health care system, and the normative antediluvian institutionalization of sexual and personal relations we are compelled to submit to for rights currently granted under 'marriage.'