Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Pants Down and Shirt Off: Obama and Gay Marriage

A conservative friend-who-shall-remain-nameless of mine, sent me a link to Iowahawk with this photo and the headline, "Breaking: Gay Marriage Opponent Topless Photos Leaked." Apparently, Miss California Carrie Prejean is getting even more flak for her opposition to gay marriage, and folks are threatening to come out with topless pics.

Hawk, and I'm sure other, disingenuous conservatives, are rightfully pointing out liberals' hypocrisy in decrying Prejean when their own, liberal president also opposes gay marriage.

As much as it galls me, as much as I hate to contribute to what will later turn into Gorgeous White Woman Redemption and a Prejean the Plumber book and concert tour (followed by a brisk business of CDs, DVDs, and swimsuit calendars), I'll have to agree with the conservatives on this one. Though for completely different reasons, I believe they should point out liberals' hypocrisy here. While they feel somehow vindicated that The Big Brother's on their side with gay marriage, I believe that they are all on the wrong side of civil rights and history when it comes to this issue.

Obama's need to appear as a moderate and mediator has him reaching out to a constituency who's never quite believed him and is always champing at the bit to have that hand returned as a stump. With the abortion issue, where he constantly talked about "curbing the need for abortions" on the campaign trail, he's found that there is no mythological "Third Way." Even before he was elected, Pro-Lifers were considering him "the most pro-abortion candidate" ever to step foot on the American political stage. And the furor over his appearance at Notre Dame and repealing his rescinding the Mexico City Policy, which blocked federal funding to overseas facilities that provided abortions, proves that there really is no middle ground when it comes to abortion rights. I don't know why anyone would be surprised at this. The woman's right to choose is a civil right--either one is for it or against it. There simply can be no middle ground.

That's the funny thing about civil rights. There are no half-measures. Or rather, the half-measures ones come up with are often tragic. Could there ever be three-fifths of an abortion?

As the Supreme Court decision, Loving v. Virginia, legalizing interracial marriage, proved, marriage is indeed a civil right. Moreover, it's a property rights issue, determining who rightfully inherits what and who has authority over one's person if incapacitated, etc. "Civil union" is a cute compromise that falls far short of the rights bestowed upon marriage. These rights are what the state, the secular state, have to concern themselves with. The so-called "morality" of gay marriage is nothing the state needs to worry about. Leave it up to the individual and churches to wrangle over that. Any politician, including Obama, who kowtows to the "civil union" argument is laying our own Constitution prostrate to the whims of the mob.

And what happens when we Americans allow civil rights to be dictated by plebiscite? It's not simply California's voters reimplementing their state's ban on gay marriage. Just look at slavery and subjugation of African-Americans. Political cowardice had our forefathers backing away from abolition, which extended the institution of slavery by some 80 years, giving us the Three-Fifths Compromise, a civil war in Kansas, and the Civil War itself. The Republicans' weak will led to the collapse of Reconstruction and the ultimate passing of Jim Crow laws all across the South. Millions were oppressed, thousands murdered, and we are still (despite Obama's election) struggling against the legacy that slavery left our country.

No, the gay marriage ban has not had such drastic consequences. However, when it comes to this fight for civil rights and human dignity, Obama's looking more like George Wallace ("Straight marriage now! Straight marriage tomorrow! Straight marriage forever?") than Martin Luther King--or, if we are to believe current and historical rumors about breast-bearing, more like Carrie Prejean than Sojourner Truth.

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