I saw the President’s remarks on gay marriage. I’m right there with the many saying ‘right on’; it’s about time. But, as personal and political as it is for me (or anyone) to come out, or for individual allies to stand up for their friends and families, the same has to be allowed for the President of the United States. Regardless of where he comes down, he will have detractors…attackers.
Most of the respectable and reasonable news outlets — regardless of which side of the political spectrum they are on — will agree with this. It is such an intensely personal and powerful issue that it makes it so easy to cast blame when someone like President Obama do not act or speak up when we want them to, when we feel is right. I am including myself here.
Fortunately (or unfortunately — it’s hard to decide sometimes), we do not have the luxury of lingering over this debate right now. There is a presidential election coming up, and that really needs to be a unifying focus. Not because we all agree with everything the President has done (we can’t all agree); not because we think the time he let pass before supporting gay marriage was reasonable (a lot of us don’t); not because the economy is making a huge recovery (it’s leveled with small improvements here and there); not because we are all gung-ho over his foreign policies (is he too soft or trying to be too tough?); or not because we all believe in health care reform as it was passed (too far or not far enough?); and, certainly, not because we all agree on his human rights stance and actions…
But, what seems clear to me is that a lot of us do agree that things would be far worse with the President’s opponent. This, to me, should be the unifying force right now. Certainly fight the state battles that come up against human/equal rights and civility between now and November with all of the will and determination we can, but unify for the big fight to keep the President in the White House.
For all of what we may or may not view as President Obama’s strengths or shortcomings, can you imagine what things would be like with his opponent? President Obama may have been “late to the party” on gay marriage, but his opponent has done a complete reversal on his past stances and policies, for the sake of power and money. Think about it: when he was governor of Massachusetts, he was a gay-friendly governor who passed health care reform which is the model for the one in place now in the U.S. This former governor of Massachusetts if president, as most of us have heard, would erase hard-fought rights for women and gays, and he has no interest in the poor, to boot. I personally feel certain that if President Obama’s opponent was in the White House, he would expand his net of people/groups from whom to strip rights (why stop with women and gays when they are so many others to conquer?), and would work tirelessly to ensure that he and his cronies thrived.
So, this seems to me the exact perfect moment to get together, to look at the big picture — to ask “what if?” — and to speak up, get together, and most importantly, do what we can to build a large strong group behind the President, and to get out the vote.
For all of his faults (and I don’t agree with everything he says or does) or perceived faults,
- there is no alternative
. If we think we have to scrap and fight to keep or win every right we have — whether it’s regarding gay rights, health care or reproductive freedoms — can you imagine the alternative? I look at decisions like North Carolina’s Amendment One (see my other entry on sheep, if you want to know how I really feel about that), or the fact the right is fighting against birth control, and I wonder how it’s possible that all of this is still going on in 2012. If President Obama is not reelected, imagine the fights we’ll need to have then. Think back to the 1960’s battles for civil rights, women’s rights and gay rights. Imagine going back there again. Do we want to go that far back? Do we want to have to fight against an administration that, if the opponent’s life and campaign are any indication, will work rapidly to send us years backwards?
Take a look around — look at the number of gay teens that kill themselves as compared to that of their peers, or look at the delay in Florida to arrest the killer of Trayvon Martin.
We cannot afford to go back in time, our children cannot afford for us to go back in time. We need to rally around the President to ensure that we can stand and fight from where we are NOW, not where we were 50 years ago.