I expect quite a few people to ask me what I think of this news in the next few days or so, so I’ll just get this out of the way: it’s awesome. It’s a game-changer any way you look at it, the first hint we’ve had in a good long time that Barack Obama is more than just an equivocator, but a man who is capable of taking a decisive stand when the occasion calls for it. I was surprised enough when Biden made his endorsement this Sunday, and am even more surprised that President Obama would follow him up so quickly. When it rains, it pours, I guess.
There are broader trends at work here. Gay rights groups have been roasting Obama over a spit for the past few years for dragging his feet on issues like DOMA, the repeal of DADT, and so on. Some of their ire is justifiable. Before refusing to defend it, his administration defended DOMA in the most offensive possible terms, likening homosexuality to bestiality as if our president were no better than Rick Santorum. And while some have argued that waiting for the legislature to come around was the best way to do it, I think Barack Obama should have issued an executive order allowing gay people to serve openly in the military. Truman ended segregation in the same fashion, and how much scarier are gay people than black people, really? Honestly, I didn’t see this coming. I was as certain as ever that he would refrain from taking a stance until after the election. As it is, he may have just decided it (hopefully for the better.)
You’ll be hearing a lot about North Carolina pretty soon as well. I’m not too worried. It’s depressing, but frankly, not more than I would expect from a state as red as that one. Here’s an interesting tidbit: apparently, the redder a state gets, the stronger the correlation between searches done for “God” and “free gay porn” done in that state. No, I’m serious. (Then again, maybe it’s not so weird. Don’t you think of gay porn and Jesus as companion pieces?)
The temptation to make stupid jokes here is almost overwhelming. I’m flashing back to the media’s response to Larry Craig’s being outed in a public bathroom, or George Rekers, or Ted Haggard, or just about any news story involving a high profile homophobe in the past few years. I’m not saying that every bigot is a flaming faggot underneath it all. Some people just look out the window and decide to hate whoever is standing outside. (“A girl in a blue sweater? That’s it! I have had it with these blue sweater-wearers destroying America!”) But still, it’s getting almost impossible to take a stance claiming that [insert group of people here] are tearing apart the fabric of our society without people asking what unresolved issues might be lurking beneath the surface. My favorite example is this creep, who was an avowed enemy of the New Orleans gay community until, well, just click on the link. It’s funny, and also kind of disturbing.
I should add, by the way, that I am not secretly a Jonas Brothers fan. No, I sincerely wish that they would die in a fire. The same goes for the creators of Glee, Matt Smith, and the members of both Insane Clown Posse and Brokencyde. It isn’t just that they suck, but that they seem to erode the foundations of something that I truly love. Really, if we’re going to make anything illegal, it might as well be the continued existence of Yoko Ono. (Seriously, I’ll kill her myself. Just promise me immunity first.)
I have no plans to ever become a parent. I’m not a fan of children, and on the rare occasion that I have any kind of contact with them, I spend most of my time counting my lucky stars that I have never attempted to reproduce. If I ever have a child, I’ll adopt a girl and name her Harper or Veronica, because Angels in America and Elvis Costello, respectively.
What does it ultimately mean that Barack Obama has finally drawn a line in the sand on this issue? Part of it must be that he senses public opinion is changing and figures that this is the most politically expedient time to take a stand. That’s not cynicism; it’s just the way politics works. Abraham Lincoln was very reluctant to declare himself an abolitionist. He stressed that his primary concern was to protect the Union, but also made it clear that he was never that fond of slavery. One thing is for certain: when he issued the Proclamation that ensured forever his status as one of our greatest presidents, he was very canny about how he did it. He didn’t free the slaves in the states that were under Union control, and did free them in the ones that were under Confederate control. It was a groundbreaking and epic piece of work on his part, yet at the time, it was mostly symbolic. Gay marriage will not become legal in all 50 states tomorrow. But for anyone who doubts that we are winning this fight, I submit this as a rebuttal. Just don’t get complacent. Much needs to happen before we can all join hands around a campfire.
The people who want to turn back the clock feel unstable, as if their entire way of life has been threatened. They are not all evil, but they must understand that there is no getting back to normal; this is the new normal. It can feel a bit unsettling at first, but with time, they just might realize that this is the way it was meant to be. Where to go after that? I don’t know. But we have to get there first.