Thank You, Mr. President

Earlier today I promised that I would make some comments on President Obama’s recent statements regarding his support of gay marriage. But I think I’m going to keep my comments brief and to the point on this. You’ve heard it discussed and it’s really all pretty straightforward. You and I both know that his fiercest opponents are already working up the smear campaign strategies, calling him a “flip-flopper,” etc. I on the other hand, have no problems with a leader who lays out how his views have “evolved” over time on a certain issue.

Think about it, why should I bother trying to argue for equal rights for any group; why should I call my congressmen; why bother trying to convince people of a different idea than what they are accustomed to; why hope for improvement in the human race at all, if all I am going to do is accuse those whose minds are changed of flip-flopping? I’ve been told that leaders, politicians should have their minds made up before they go into office, that they should be stalwart and unchangeable, steadfast in their views. Really? So we expect our leaders to be inhuman, or maybe God-like (the same yesterday, today and forever)? Last time I checked all of our public officials, elected or appointed are living, breathing, bleeding, fallible humans, capable of change and improvement. It may not be popular; it may not make people happy; we may want it otherwise, but sorry, folks, it’s the reality of the situation.

Is that part of the problem? We want our leaders to not only be bigger and smarter and better than us, we want downright superheros at the helm? While that could alleviate our responsibility, it also ignores the fact that the U.S. is supposed to be a republic, a government in which we participate. Honestly, I just want good, honest people in leadership. Now that’s a pipe dream, isn’t it?

My very first reaction at work Wednesday was a smile of happiness and disbelief, but I admit, suddenly it changed to a frown of doubt. Why, I wondered, is he doing this now, when it’s going to fire up the right wing anti-gay camp to bring out the vote against him? Could this, I wondered, cost him the election?

But then it occurred to me, while it’s conceivable that this issue might incite a few more right wing votes against him, those right-wingers who were going to vote, were by no stretch of the imagination about to vote for Obama anyway. And while the majority of us who are gay were not by a snow ball’s chance in hell going to vote for Romney, this announcement could actually bring out more liberal voters, especially young ones, who have felt disillusioned with our President’s apparently limp stance on this and a few other issues since 2008. Think of the people who might not otherwise have voted, who have started to think, as we all have heard said, that since both sides are essentially the same, what’s the point in bothering to vote?

I think this issue in particular, especially at this time, helps to highlight a major difference between the two parties, a difference in attitude toward civil rights and equality. The conservatives say they want smaller government, but what they really mean is they want fewer regulations for their big banks and corporations, so that ultimately they can have more (of our) money in their pockets. Because the truth is they want such a bigger government, one that has access to your private emails (for security sake of course), one that regulates not only what happens in your bedroom, but what happens in your womb, and whether you are free to protest or speak out in opposition to them. They also want to pass laws now, not that extend civil rights, but that infringe upon them. To do all of this, one needs a very large government indeed.

So some say that he said it to get votes, others fear it will cost votes. Face it, the president is no dummy; he’s given this a lot of thought, and no doubt had many long discussions with advisers for some time now. I don’t believe this was just a knee jerk reaction, or that he was pushed into speaking too soon because of his vice president’s outspoken words on the topic this weekend. That’s never been his style.

It’s hard to say what the short and long term ramifications will be, but one thing is certain, he did the right thing. And likely after all the fighting and bickering is over, the benefits will at least match, if not outweigh the draw-backs of what he has said, and when he chose to say it.

As for the low voter turn out in North Carolina’s primary election, and the negative results for gays, minority rights don’t fare well in elections historically.  But the tide is changing, and it will leave the right wing behind eventually, especially if we keep fighting for what’s right and what is moral, truly moral. Good timing or not, I must say that as a gay man, and a father, it is heartening to hear a leader speak out on my behalf. So let me simply finish my thoughts on this topic with these simple words that I posted to my personal facebook page last night.

Mr. President, I want to thank you for having given this some careful thought. It’s far more than what some people do. I cannot tell you how many times I have tried to “discuss” this issue with people who were not listening to a word I said, but only listening for the next opportunity to interrupt me.

It is a shame that more people in support of us did not go out to vote in North Carolina this week. But that’s why that amendment was put on the ballot at that time– low voter turn out during a primary vote is when they try to push these things through.

You, Mr. President took the moral high ground. I appreciate your doing that, sir. Thank you.

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9 Replies to “Thank You, Mr. President”

  1. I want to thank all of you who have liked or responded to this post. It’s been a busy restaurant weekend for me between graduation dinners and Mother’s Day, but I came back to this and realized a few things needed some editing. I ended up adding a few things that probably should have been added as a comment, so the major edit to the post I will also include here:

    “I think this issue in particular, especially at this time, helps to highlight a major difference between the two parties, a difference in attitude toward civil rights and equality. The conservatives say they want smaller government, but what they really mean is they want fewer regulations for their big banks and corporations, so that ultimately they can have more (of our) money in their pockets. Because the truth is they want such a bigger government, one that has access to your private emails (for security sake of course), one that regulates not only what happens in your bedroom, but what happens in your womb, and whether you are free to protest or speak out in opposition to them. They also want to pass laws now, not that extend civil rights, but that infringe upon them. To do all of this, one needs a very large government indeed.”

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