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America may have just experienced its first non-violent revolution.  My family and I watched Barack Obama’s presidential acceptance speech with tears in our eyes and joy and hope in our hearts.  History was made this year, not just with the election of our first African American president, but also with the huge surge in electorate turnout, and the recognition of shared values across all political parties.  From liberals to conservatives, Americans of all races and beliefs joined the democratic wave to take our government back.  

Sadly, the momentous occasion was marred by the passage of Proposition 8 in California and similar anti-gay initiatives in Florida and Arizona that apparently passed with overwhelming African American and hefty Latino support, along with the expected white social conservatives voting for discrimination.  In this day and age, one would think that Americans who have experienced racism and the relegation to second-class status would understand the bedrock of our country is, or should be, equality.  Values voters?  Those are the wrong values if they deny children of gays the same rights that families of heterosexuals have.

There were a lot of signs at election celebrations that declared "We Have Overcome."  No, we clearly have not.  If African Americans or any other minorities are willing to discriminate right alongside conservative whites and treat other citizens as less than equal, than the civil rights movement and Dr. King's dream is left unfulfilled.

Although Obama’s successful campaign strategy resulted in AA and Hispanic turnout in historic proportions, it’s important to not blame minorities for the passage of CA’s Prop 8 and other anti-gay initiatives.  People of all colors and creeds voted for these mean-spirited initiatives.  In fact, according to the People for the American Way (PFAW), Republicans and white churchgoers, among many other groups, voted for Prop. 8 at higher rates than African Americans.  Yet somehow it’s more painful when another oppressed community spits in the face of gay Americans, especially when gays and lesbians of all races have historically worked for racial equality.  To add insult to injury, many gays worked on the Obama campaign to help increase turnout in those very communities who voted against gay rights!  Simply stated, the increased conservative AA vote and mobilization functioned as a Nader effect for gay rights.  Worse, it’s a shame that conservative AAs shunned another repressed minority using the very same bible that they were bashed with only fifty years ago.  

The key to understanding what happened this year is to look beyond the old divisions of race and sexual orientation, and recognize who benefits from those divisions – the conservative religious groups that promote an anti-gay agenda.  The real reason we keep facing discriminatory attacks by the Religious Wrong is that churches and political groups use the gay marriage wedge issue to fundraise, to engage and consolidate their base, and to increase their power in our nation’s political sphere.  That is where we have solve this problem – by mitigating the culturally damaging distortions that are relayed to the electorate through religious and right wing organizations.  

An analysis of the forces behind the anti-civil rights Prop 8 indicates that $73 million was spent, mostly from out of state resources.  The Religious Right has invested in systematic outreach to the most conservative elements of the Black Church by promoting anti-gay clergy like Bishop Harry Jackson who worked hard to stir up opposition to marriage equality in California and Florida.  Conservative evangelical groups that put Prop. 8 on the ballot are unremittingly hostile to the rights of gay people.  Evangelical leaders bombarded pastors, churchgoers, and the public with outright lies about gays and lesbians, claiming gays want to destroy their religious freedom, prevent clergy from preaching about homosexuality from the pulpit and come after their children by preaching homosexuality in the schools (as if sexual orientation can be taught to children).  They even suggested that Christians would be thrown in jail and churches would be forced to marry gays unless Prop 8 passed.  All of which is not true, but is enormously successful in fear-based politics.  They employed divide and conquer tactics that exploited the discomfort among many conservative AAs with white gays by accusing the gay rights movement of "hijacking" and "raping" the black civil rights movement.  This divide and conquer tactic ignores and belittles the commonalities between oppressed communities striving for equal rights, and creates an artificial "Us versus Them" mentality that hamstrings progressive change.

In Arkansas this year, the religious zeal of social conservatives went well past the usual attack on gays with an even more ominous new law approved by nearly 57 percent of voters.  That state’s Proposed Initiative Act No. 1 bans people who are "cohabitating outside a valid marriage" from serving as foster parents or adopting children.  Although the measure was written by the Arkansas Family Council expressly to thwart "the gay agenda," it’s far reaching effects will be felt by heterosexuals as well, and will be devastating to children who could otherwise benefit from adoption or foster placement with loving adults.  Needless to say, the overwhelming majority of the children in state custody have been abused, neglected or abandoned by their heterosexual parents.  But by banning gay and straight unmarried people from adopting or fostering these needy children, social conservatives have shown themselves to be not just anti-gay, but also anti-family and anti-children.  Beginning on Jan. 1, 2009, anyone cohabitating with his or her unmarried partner cannot adopt, even if the children are a deceased sibling’s kids.  Grandparents who live with opposite-sex partners but who don’t marry because it would reduce in their pension benefits are barred from adopting their own grandchildren!  The silver lining in all this is that they’ve expanded the pool of people impacted by their conservative, anti-family social agenda, which may result in more heterosexuals demanding an end to these bigoted, "tyranny by the majority" initiatives.

So how can progressives stop these anti-family initiatives?  Mormon Church leaders turned Prop. 8 into a national religious crusade against gay couples, badgered Mormons nationwide to give heavily to the campaign, and recruited thousands of Christian foot soldiers for door-to-door canvassing.  For that alone they should lose their IRS tax exempt status.  Conservative Catholic leaders betrayed Catholic teaching about human dignity by enthusiastically joining forces with campaign organizers who portrayed supporters of gay equality as evil and satanic. "Yes on Prop 8" leaders viewed the campaign as a battle between good and evil, which led to an "ends justifies the means" campaign that included grossly distorted ads, mailings, and robocalls directed at AAs and Hispanics and falsely portrayed Barack Obama as a Prop 8 supporter.  The Obama campaign responded with a statement opposed to Prop 8, but Obama’s own verbal statements helped the anti-gay cause, specifically his campaigning with Donnie McClurkin and Doug Kmiec (both of whom promote conservative, anti-gay bigotry), his unwillingness to steer the conversation toward civil rights and marriage equality instead of repeating their mantra that marriage is between a man and a woman, and his decision to not expend political capital on LGBT issues.

The fact is, Obama doesn’t need to stick his neck out and make gay rights his issue, but the Democratic Party has to take a stand immediately. Why?  Because if we don’t, our opponents will continue to hammer us on this wedge issue for the next hundred years while it’s in limbo.  As the Arkansas adoption ban indicates, gays aren’t the only target of the Religious Wrong.  Oh, gay citizens will eventually win equality, but what will the right wing drag us through before we come to a sensible solution?  Like blacks before them, gay Americans are never going to quit demanding equality, and the right wing will continue to take advantage of wedge issues like this that bring them big bucks and even bigger political clout.  The Constitution, that great, insightful document, will eventually win out, but it’s going to take mainstream Democrats to step up to the plate, just as it was necessary for white Americans to take a stand on racial equality, and male politicians to allow woman suffrage.  Sadly, change is dependent on the majority giving rights to oppressed minorities.  Historically, major social change has come about with a combination of grassroots effort and political/social demands for change culminating in top-down, federal solutions.  If Lincoln hadn't signed the Emancipation Proclamation, or Harry Truman hadn't integrated the military, or Congress and Pres. Lyndon Johnson hadn't signed the Civil Rights Act, we’d still be mired in all three of those civil conflicts.  Remember, women didn’t get the right to vote just because they demanded it.  Male politicians finally realized that they could reap the benefits of more voters if they included women in the electorate.  As with black civil rights, the Bible was used to justify women not having the right to vote or to own property in this country.  Slaves could not free themselves, women could not give themselves the right to vote, and gays and lesbians cannot create their own equality by simply asking or demanding it.  Nature simply does not produce enough homosexuals to create a large voting block.  The dominant groups in society have always been the ones who have the power to effect change.  

Marriage equality can be won on constitutional grounds.  Our Constitution & Bill of Rights guarantee equal protection.  Period.  It’s just a matter of time before we realize it’s full potential.  Prop 8 will likely be struck down for violating the 14th Amendment by singling out a class of citizens to discriminate against.  But we don’t have to wait for the courts to bounce the issue back to the public, we can move forward in the civic arena.  Progress is made not through unity, but by more people coming to favor progress than those who oppose it.  Black people remained in slavery for far too many years after this country was established because of a bad compromise for the sake of unity.  Remember, there are two components of marriage.  One is the religious joining of two or more people (even polygamy is one version of "traditional marriage").  The other component is the civil contract between two people who are taking financial and legal responsibility for their partner and/or family.  The two components are already separate, in that you go to your church to have a marriage ceremony, but you pay the government to approve and record your marriage contract.  The state has a valid interest in regulating domestic relationships, so there's no use trying to get the government out of the marriage business at this point, especially given the amount of family court decisions that exist on top of our laws.  From our experience in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and other countries like Canada, it’s clear that giving all adult citizens the right to civil marriage has absolutely no effect on the religious institution of marriage.  Although the right wing is dishonest to say they’re protecting "traditional marriage" given the history of how marriage has changed over time, the appeal of the "one man, one woman" argument is powerful, even among Democrats.  A reasonable solution would be to give the word "marriage" back to the church, and start calling all state sanctioned marriages "civil unions."  The first step along that path would be to allow straight people to opt for civil unions instead of marriage.  Since this would require a state by state approach, we also need a proactive federal solution.  Back to the newly elected Congress and our Mandate for Change...

So what can be done?  The solution is for Congress to provide a federal foundation for domestic relationships with the stated purpose of establishing clarity on civil rights disparities that are caused by states already regulating marriage in different ways, and with a clear goal of reaffirming the U.S. constitutionally guaranteed equality for all citizens.  This should be a high priority for the new Congress, because the sooner the gay marriage wedge issue is put to rest, the better for democracy and for the Democratic Party.  People voting other folk’s rights away is really not a healthy way to run a democracy, and is bound to lead to many more years of conflict and division among the electorate.  A federal gay rights solution will resolve the disparity among states with differing domestic partnership structures (gay marriage in some states, civil unions in others) and the danger of more states illegally voting away gay citizens civil rights.  

Pres Bill Clinton tried to take a progressive stand on the gays in the military issue.  He got kneecapped for his attempt to replicate what President Harry Truman did as Commander in Chief when he ordered racial desegregation of the armed forces.  One reason Clinton failed is because he caved to opposition, even though the arguments used against gays in the military were the same as those used against people of color in Truman’s time.  But Clinton didn’t have the majorities and political clout that our new president will have.  Obama doesn’t have to stand alone on this.  He has surrogates, including strong congressional leaders.  And he has us, the millions of Americans who believe in the Constitution and in fairness to others.  We are the strong wind at Obama’s back, the voice of the newly emerged Democratic Majority, the foundation and mandate for the Change We Need!  We have new progressive organizations that use the Internet to communicate and garner popular support.  We have broad based coalitions that have arisen in the fight to take back our country from the lunatic right wing fringe that has foisted the likes of Dubya on us.  If we truly want Change, then it’s time for the people to lead so the leaders can follow.  

To begin with, we need one of the many organizations that have been created to promote progressive ideas such as MoveOn, ActBlue, ACLU, People for the American Way, The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF), National Organizers Alliance, National Organization for Women, American Friends Service Committee, True Majority or even Democracy for America to coordinate a broad based, grass roots coalition that will support a core group from both sides of Congress whose political careers won’t be damaged by promoting equal rights to create gay rights legislation as soon as the Obama administration is in place.  Sen. Ted Kennedy is in an excellent position to take the lead (what a lasting tribute for him to continue in the Kennedy tradition of sponsoring key civil rights legislation) and Rep. Nancy Pelosi in the House (already maligned as a wild-eyed liberal by the right wing but frequently attacked by the left for not being progressive enough).  Feel free to add more suggestions in the comments below of congressional leaders who could survive politically even if they take a progressive stand on this issue (or just forward them this article).

In my opinion, the most effective way to solve the gay rights issue is for our newly elected Congress and president to immediately pass legislation repealing DOMA and DADT (Defense of Marriage Act and the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy), and change IRS code and other applicable laws to support states’ use of civil unions.  These modifications should be based on the need to accommodate contract structures in states that already allow gay marriage or civil unions.  As part of the process, Congress can set clear federal policy to support states that provide equal structures for gays and straights, from gay marriage to heterosexual civil unions (granted, these are not in existence yet, but they would help enormously to pull the rug from under the anti-gay marriage proponents).  This allows for a variety of state responses, placates conservative demands for states’ rights, yet provides the framework for equality between those states that do allow marriage/civil unions and those that discriminate.  

Although different states can create a variety of marital structures, including the mean-spirited gay marriage bans, the federal government should reestablish our "full faith and credit" clause so all states would have to accept marriages/civil unions from other states that allow gays to enter domestic contracts.  Then just let it sit for a while until it’s clear that the states allowing gay marriage aren’t falling apart, and until the idea of separation of church and state is incorporated in how the public thinks about marriage.  In the meantime anyone married in the states that allow marriage equality have 100% of the rights and benefits afforded to other married couples.  The end game is reaffirmation of our constitutional protections, support for pro-family progressive values, and destabilization of this anti-family wedge issue.  By the way, for those who are pushing polygamy as part of marriage equality, please don’t peddle that here.  It just feeds the slippery slope argument and scares those who would otherwise support equal rights.  Straights don’t have the right to marry multiple concurrent partners, and we’re working toward marriage equality, not expansion.  So if you want to promote polygamy then start your own movement, but please don’t tie it to gay rights.

Our new President Obama should reiterate his support for these sweeping changes based on what he’s already stated, and the following:

  1. Today’s marriage is not at all "traditional."  Marriage throughout history has meant no divorce, no interracial unions, arranged weddings between children and adult men, and polygamy.  The "protect traditional marriage" argument is baseless, and people are just being mean spirited and anti-American passing laws that take rights away from a minority.  Contrary to the Religious Right’s claims, the institution of marriage has been constantly modified since it was created thousands of years ago.  Traditional biblical marriage was originally a business deal between families whereby a bride and dowry were the price for buying into a family that could offer prestige and security.  That’s why rich and powerful men like King Solomon promoted polygamy as "natural."  Mixed race marriage, a 19th century European/American invention, was considered a form of pollution to the purity of the white race, and was prevented by law in many states until rather recently, with the last states changing anti-miscegeny laws in the 1960s.  That means numerous states still prevented interracial marriage at the time of Obama’s birth.  Traditional marriage, as it was for most of our country’s history, was clearly not what it is now, with churches blocking divorce and any marital arrangement they did not agree with.  Our country (and others) correctly made changes to "traditional marriage" to fix inequalities and limit religious barriers.  Obama has the opportunity to remind the people who promote intolerance of gays using scriptures written by ancient mystics that the sign "Whites Only" over the water fountains is no different than "Heterosexuals Only" over the marriage bureau's door.  Most importantly, one does not have to accept homosexuality to accept the constitutional guarantees of equality.  
  1. President Truman’s desegregation of the military had a huge positive effect on race relations, in spite of naysayers claiming it would destroy morale and destabilize troop cohesion and readiness.  Repealing the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy will do the same.  Gays exist, they are in the military in huge numbers, and many of them are in key roles like interpreters and intelligence.  DADT is dysfunctional and counterproductive, so change is what’s needed now.  When the CIC lays down the law, generals who refuse to implement it should get fired.  Period.  Obama needs to just man-up on this one and set more reasonable policy, especially given the number of gay and lesbian heroes serving today.  If he sticks to his guns, and if we are solidly behind him, demanding and expecting the Change We Need, Obama will avoid the complications Pres. Clinton ran into.  
  1. Obama is all about finding solutions that represent shared values.  A congressional solution that allows states to define traditional marriage, but doesn’t allow them to discriminate against a group of citizens by restricting their access to equal protection is a no-brainer.  Just give marriage back to the churches, encourage all states to start utilizing civil unions for the state sanctioned part of marriage, and sit back to watch the Change happen all over the country. Even if some states redefine marriage to "protect it" from gays (which many already have) gay citizens can always go to one of those "liberal states" to get married. Their home state will simply have to abide by the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the Constitution that can require states to recognize other states’ domestic partnership contracts.  Most importantly, the federal government will recognize those "liberal state" marriages/civil unions via policy changes from IRS rules to the military, which will do enormous good to mitigate our opponents’ anti-gay political actions.

Obama can stay above the fray, but provide his support throughout the congressional process.  He won’t be as easy to criticize as President Clinton was, because he’s symbolic of the Yes We Can movement.  Criticizing him will be like criticizing millions of us.  People will respond with anger if they perceive pundits trying to tear down our first black president.  The man studied constitutional law at an Ivy League school.  Surely he can speak to the fairness and rationality of supporting constitutionally guaranteed protections for all Americans.  Most importantly, Obama’s words and opinion will be repeated throughout the nation.  He’s got the bully pulpit, and he’s the first Democratic president in our lifetimes who has a wildly supportive following.  Imagine how hard it will be for conservative church leaders in predominantly black and Hispanic communities to contradict our new leader.  For these reasons, Obama can come out in support of solutions on this issue on the basis that it’s a civil rights issue that divides our country.  The black civil rights movement inspired gay liberation itself. Obama can remind black church leaders of Nelson Mandela's long struggle and that he and black South Africans made S. Africa the first nation in the world to guarantee equal rights for gay and lesbian people. The great Cesar Chavez spoke out for gay rights at the early marches on Washington, and Obama can use these examples to reframe the discussion in terms of constitutional rights instead of biblical/culture clashes.

Finally, progressives need to not let the passage of these anti-gay initiatives divide us, especially when polls show racial minorities in favor of discrimination.  We must remember that anti-gay political action by the right wing and by churches is a huge fundraiser and a Get Out The Vote strategy.  The difficulty isn’t that people of color tend to vote conservatively on social issues, the problem is that so many churches and religious leaders tell all their followers to vote against gay rights.  That’s where we need to focus our energies, mitigating the anti-gay communication flow from powerful, political religious organizations to the electorate.  For that reason, Obama should make it clear that his Faith Based Initiative funding will not be granted to religious institutions that promote hatred, division and political action resulting in loss of civil rights for any group of citizens.  Progressive organizations should take steps to have the IRS repeal 501 (c)3 tax protections from churches that promote these anti-gay political initiatives.  

Until mainstream Democrats stand up for the equality our Constitution provides, the right wing will use this issue as a wedge issue against progressive advancement.  This is the chance in a lifetime to implement Change We Need and forward the cause of equality for generations to come.  Let’s encourage our leaders in Congress to step up the plate, and make sure they know we’ve got their backs.

Originally posted to MyLeftMind on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 03:25 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I stopped reading here: (6+ / 0-)

    If African Americans or any other minorities are willing to discriminate and treat other citizens as less than equal,

    President Barack Obama!

    by kate mckinnon on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 03:29:03 PM PST

    • stopped reading as soon as you read (9+ / 0-)

      something that was true, but rubbed you the wrong away, apparently. Well, let me complete the sentence for you:

      "If African Americans or any other minorities are willing to discriminate and treat other citizens as less than equal, than the civil rights movement and Dr. King's dream is left unfulfilled."

      If you disagree with this, I guess you didn't hear what Coretta Scott Kind, the widow of Dr. King, said:

      (Pay attention to the last two quotes specifically, please)

      "Gays and lesbians stood up for civil rights in Montgomery, Selma, in Albany, Ga. and St. Augustine, Fla., and many other campaigns of the Civil Rights Movement. Many of these courageous men and women were fighting for my freedom at a time when they could find few voices for their own, and I salute their contributions."

      "I still hear people say that I should not be talking about the rights of lesbian and gay people and I should stick to the issue of racial justice. But I hasten to remind them that Martin Luther King Jr. said, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

      "Homophobia is like racism and anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry in that it seeks to dehumanize a large group of people, to deny their humanity, their dignity and personhood. This sets the stage for further repression and violence that spread all too easily to victimize the next minority group."

      "I appeal to everyone who believes in Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream to make room at the table of brother- and sisterhood for lesbian and gay people."

      "We have to launch a national campaign against homophobia in the black community."

      ---Coretta Scott King

    •  If you stopped reading here, Kate (7+ / 0-)

      then you're not given very much thought to your post...most intelligent people would continue reading to see the true intent of the writer, digest his entire argument and then form an opinion. Taking half a sentence out of context and taking a stand on that alone is what got us into this mess to begin with! Really folks, if we don't take the time to listen to each other, what's the point?

      Uncle Sal

      "I certainly feel much more like I do right now than I did when I first came in..."

      by Sal Bovoso on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 04:14:42 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Hear, hear (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sal Bovoso

        Sadly, there is a lot of this sort of thing going on; people are reading until one of their "buttons" get pushed, and then they jam their fingers in their ears and start pronouncing judgments.

        The fundamental delusion of humanity is to suppose that I am here and you are out there. - Yasutani Roshi

        by lotusmaglite on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 04:53:57 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  It saves time to quit at a bogus premise (0+ / 0-)

        because things spiral downhill from there. I'm with kate on this one.

        As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.

        by ticket punch on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 05:51:47 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Alas, it was not a bogus premise (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          as the rest of the sentence and then the rest of the paragraph and then the rest of the post points out very clearly. One sentence (or part of one) does not an argument make. If you disagree with one thing and decide not to read the rest, then move on, but please don't stop to post a comment that dismisses the entire post when obviously you haven't read it. It just makes no sense and doesn't add to the discourse. Isn't that why we're here?

          Uncle Sal

          "I certainly feel much more like I do right now than I did when I first came in..."

          by Sal Bovoso on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 07:25:55 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Obama probably still would have won (0+ / 0-)

    if he said he was for Gay marriage (C'mon, we all know he is), but hell, better safe than sorry.

    •  If he really is (3+ / 0-)

      I hope he "comes out" about it now.

      •  I'm not sold (0+ / 0-)

        on Obama being for same-sex marriage.

        Maybe someone can look into this: Campaign trail rhetoric for the sake of political gain aside, is there any evidence from his public service record (say, before he even thought about the national stage) which indicates he might be? This is not a criticism; it's an honest question. If there is an example from his previous works, it's probably a pretty accurate indication...

        The fundamental delusion of humanity is to suppose that I am here and you are out there. - Yasutani Roshi

        by lotusmaglite on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 05:03:13 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I doubt he's said anything (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          on the record because the Reps would undoubtedly have tried to use it against him. OTOH, I don't see why his view wouldn't be subject to evolution. Maybe soon, maybe later, maybe never. But I have hope.

          •  Good point (0+ / 0-)

            About his record. It would have been used against him.

            I do understand that his position - whatever it was - may not be the same now. But it's difficult to know the mind of any politician; past performance is usually the barometer.

            Sold or not, I still hope for the best.

            The fundamental delusion of humanity is to suppose that I am here and you are out there. - Yasutani Roshi

            by lotusmaglite on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 08:24:56 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  I found this to be an interesting (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          and potentially insightful read on Obama's GBLT perspective. Granted, it's all off the record, but encouraging if true.

          He did not think it was "politically feasible" to secure marriage rights for same-sex couples in the country at this point. I do understand the politics and I do appreciate the fact that he said, hey, it’s not going to pass in this political climate. Many other politicians haven’t really done that. They make decisions but they never really address the trans community."

          "I’ve been to many events over the past 10 years of candidates running for office," said Corey Johnson, one of the hosts, "This was the most forthright, eloquent, and detailed stuff I’ve heard from a politician [regarding gay issues]."


          Johnson, who is 25, has supported Obama for about a year but prefaced his remarks by saying he has never been an "Obama-phile." He said the senator addressed some of the most contentious LGBT issues without prompting, such as same-sex marriage and the inclusion of transgender people in the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. In fact, those were the two issues Sen. Obama singled out as being potential disappointments to the LGBT community right now, while he signaled that a hate-crimes bill could likely be passed and signed into law and that repeal of "don’t ask, don’t tell" might be on the horizon.

          •  Good stuff (0+ / 0-)

            Encouraging if true, as you say.

            Then again, it couldn't get much worse than the current powers-that-be, so that's not saying much.

            I hope and I pray that he is who we thought he was.

            The fundamental delusion of humanity is to suppose that I am here and you are out there. - Yasutani Roshi

            by lotusmaglite on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 08:27:42 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  He has repeatedly stated that he is not. (0+ / 0-)

      So is he a liar?

  •  Correct: (14+ / 0-)

    gay Americans are never going to quit demanding equality

  •  Don't ask, Don't tell bogged Clinton down in (0+ / 0-)

    his first term.  While I am incredibly sympathetic to this issue and I think the vote in California was abysmal, I don't think this can or should be at the top of Obama's agenda.  Give him a year or so to address the economy, healthcare, and issues that are crucial for the stability of the country.  And then absolutely he should address this issue.

    •  All Obama has to do is sign bills. The Congress (0+ / 0-)

      can make progress on all issues short of stuff that requires executive action.

    •  Clinton was outmaneuvered. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Clarknt67, MyLeftMind

      Obama's much more skillful.  And this is 16 years later.  

      Many people told Kennedy to get the important issues addressed and worry about that civil rights stuff later, too.  So, like then, perhaps we will have to force the new Congress and Administration to address these issues of equality.

      Obama can chew gum and walk at the same time.  Exhibit #1: the financial meltdown weeks ago.  He is quite able to, and we elected him to, make some fundamental changes.  He can ensure the stability of the country and revive the soul of the Constitution at the same time.  Otherwise, his victory speech was empty words for us homos.

      People know what they do; they frequently know why they do what they do; but what they don't know is what what they do does. -Michel Foucault

      by eamonsean on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 03:59:35 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  all Obama has to do is: (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lotusmaglite, ganymeade, sternsieger


    Obama inherits from Bush a military that has a serious recruitment crisis, especially with mid-grade commissioned officers.

    As C-in-C, he can easily desegregate the military by repealing DADT with an executive order.

    Gay warriors coming home from combat facing discrimination = same situation as black warriors coming home from WW2 facing segregation.  This will inexorably resolve in the direction of equality.


    Appoint progressive SC justices.  The younger the better.  Without a word being said about marriage.  They will necessarily end up doing the right thing, particularly when gay vetrans are in the mix.  


    Diarist is correct that Congress can/should step forward on these issues where possible.  

    However this needs to be handled carefully and with appropriate planning, so that Reps & Senators in marginal districts & states can't be targeted by the Rs.  

    Basically it has to start with committees, formed with Ds from safe districts & states.  They can afford to stick their necks out.  Then make the strong case based on civil rights history and put it on the front page.  And also make the strong case that "traditional values" are best served by reinforcing monogamy regardless of orientation.


    As for the AA vote issue: that issue is dead and deserves to be buried.  It only served as a wedge for Republicans to cause mutual alienation between two Democratic constituencies.  

    The important demographic trend was that older voters reject marriage equality and younger ones approve.  Across the board.  That trend will carry us to victory even if nothing else does.  

  •  posted this a few days ago on Occums Hatchet's (0+ / 0-)

    but my question went unanswered...who is on his staff... LGBT ??

    Barack mentioned the problem with the word itself "marriage" occams hatchet
    in a rally I went to in Lebanon, NH in Dec of 2007. I was ticked off at him at the time on the heels of the Donny McClurkin thing. A guy in the crowd asked him about SSM and he stumbled badly in the response. BO rambled on and on saying he supported the rights to visitation and a couple of other lame rights, not the whole 1200+ and then went off on the tangent of "people in Indiana are not ready for the word marriage."
    It was weird and a not ready for prime time moment for the early campaigner. Both sides should be grateful it was never a viral video because it made me feel like a second class citizen, separate and unequal and it would not have appealed at all to the anti SSM crowd.
    Thankfully, he deftly improved his blurb on SSM on the trail and avoided making it a hot issue for the campaign.

    It has bothered me about him since that day, the feeling that he did not get it. A black man standing there telling us other people are not ready for the "word" marriage. It was not change I could believe in at the time and I leaned toward Hillary.

    Obviously, he won me over with his other fantastic and extraordinary capabilities and I am thrilled he is Prez elect.

    But, I feel he needs to come along quite a bit further on our issues, his heart still needs some changing.

    After the rally ended I had the chance to tell him that "the gays were pissed" because this blog was afire over Donny McClurkin and friends who had given him money were ticked off and looking elsewhere.
    His response was less than reassuring and defensive, he kept saying "it was just one concert" over and over. I said one appearance was enough to give us the message. He pointed out his record of pro LGBT stances. I mentioned he should vet people and not repeat the mistake of alienating us, his base. He repeated "it was just one concert".
    After he walked away and finished the rope line (they were tiny then) he shot a hand back and said "thanks for that" I think that happened many times on the trail, people telling him about LGBT and all kinds of other issues and that is what made him a great candidate, humbled him and helped him build the mass support for the triumph he/we had.

    My concern remains that he needs to be moved along towards understanding our issues on a heart level and that if he had prop 8 would not have passed or at least he would have come down harder on California officials to work harder against it. But, I could be dead wrong on that.

    I hope he has some strong, tough LGBT advisors on board, I had not heard any names, has anyone?

    by palinisajoke on Tue Nov 11, 2008 at 02:24:05 PM PST


  •  I agree (0+ / 0-)

    wholeheartedly with eamonsean, and said as much on another diary.  People who think Obama can only handle one thing at a time are revealing a lack of understanding of the job of POTUS.  Obama merely needs to tell his aids to write up an executive order for X,Y, and Z.  He signs it.
    Look what he's doing right now - his aides have already made a list of 200 executive orders made by Bush that Obama wants to annul.  How much time did that take his staff to complete?  A lot.  How much of Obama's time?  Not so much.

    I'm waiting to be written in The Book of Love. SGWM, 40, seeks VGL HWP....

    by Skylarking on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 04:10:17 PM PST

  •  such a well thought out diary (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
  •  Obama has said he is not for gay marriage...and (0+ / 0-)

    the diarist says don't blame AA for the prop8 but also blames us for it. If there were no AA vote for prop8 it still would have passed. There were also AA that did not vote for it just as well as whites and Latinos. For you to put and emphasis on us because of Obamas skin color is just bullshit. Hell if it wasn't for all the whites that voted for it prop8 would not have passed. Blame whites for prop8 not people of color.

    I dislike Harold Ford even more every time I listen to him on MSNBC...what an asshole.

    by larryww on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 04:45:38 PM PST

    •  Recognizing that there is homophobia (0+ / 0-)

      in specific communities is not the same as blaming AAs for passage of Prop 8. If you don’t acknowledge the cause of a problem, you can’t fix it. Clearly AAs and Hispanics weren’t the singular reason these propositions passed, but the proponents of the anti-gay initiatives deliberately targeted minority groups with lies and propaganda. If the polls are correct, huge numbers of conservative AAs voted for the initiatives. Sure, conservative whites voted for them also, and I blame every single person who voted for oppression. However, a strategy to combat homophobia and misinformation campaigns in black and Hispanic communities would be different from what we can employ to try to convince other groups to be more reasonable and accepting. That’s essentially because the proponents of anti-gay measures work through minority leadership, especially churches and religious groups.

      The most obvious difference between black and white social conservatives right now is that our first black president has enormous sway with the AAs who voted for him. More importantly, religious and other leaders in minority communities are beholden to him, because their own constituents are wildly supportive of his presidency. Does Obama carry a lot of political weight with white social conservatives? Not so much, since they mostly voted against him and many already despise him because of who he is and what he stands for.

      Obama has the bully pulpit, and people are expecting him to make change. Are black religious leaders going to tear him down if he makes a constitutional argument for marriage equality at the federal level? Not likely. White social conservatives and right wing pundits will criticize him, but heck, they’re still ranting and raving about Obama’s "associations" and his liberal tendencies. At some point, he needs to just ignore their criticisms and start making positive Change that helps promote basic democratic values, including equal rights for all Americans. He and the Dem Party have the chance to put an end to this wedge issue once and for all. Many people will continue to be homophobic, just like racism still exists. But the law is the law, and changing the law was necessary to move black civil rights forward. Reinforcing the constitutionally based concept of equality is always the right thing to do. And we should push them to do so sooner, rather than later, unless we want this marriage issue in our faces again four years from now.

      That’s why it’s important to recognize (not blame) AA and other minority support for these anti-gay measures. Because Obama can draw commonalities between gay rights and black civil rights. And the minority leadership in churches and elsewhere across the country will accept his analysis and solutions. Many will even repeat his words and promote his ideas for resolving our differences. One can believe that gay sex is a sin and still respect another American’s civil rights. Even when AA leaders disagree with Obama or Congress’ proposed solutions, they’re not likely to tear down our first black president for his understanding of the Constitution and his desire to heal divisions.

      Gay activists and their allies use terminology like "civil rights," and "marriage equality" because the issue really isn’t whether people accept homosexuality, or what God or his followers believe about religious unions, it’s whether all Americans are equal under the law. Tyranny by the majority, freedom from religion, and the pattern of oppression of minorities is what’s relevant. The bible has been used to "prove" whites are better than blacks, and straights are better than gays. Blacks were tortured and murdered for trying to escape oppression; gays were tortured and murdered by the hundreds of thousands by the Catholic Church and by the Nazis. Both groups still experience oppression. We don’t have to compete for which minority was hurt worse through history. We just have to recognize the commonalities and the "divide and conquer" strategies employed.

      Social conservatives might not like gays, or may think God hates gays, but they don’t have the right to take away rights from any minority. Not in this country. In the words of Coretta Scott King, "Homophobia is like racism and anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry in that it seeks to dehumanize a large group of people, to deny their humanity, their dignity and personhood. This sets the stage for further repression and violence that spread all too easily to victimize the next minority group." Or as Martin Luther King Jr. said, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

      Better yet, in Obama’s own words, "We are not a gay America or a straight America, we are all Americans..." and "..we rise and fall as one nation."

      Now we just have to hold Obama (and his supporters) to his words.

      •  you tell me then....what group besides gays that (0+ / 0-)

        did not have people voted prop8. And yes you did try and blame us for your own damn diary. You cannot put the blame on black people. I don't give a damn who the hell you marry but to single out minorities is just bullshit. Your diary sucks for trying to cut people into groups that voted for prop8. You might take a look at all the white people that voted for it than us. Obama has said more that once he is for civil it or not...that is what he said..he cannot fix everything so don't try to blame him for not doing it...I see you take a quote for Obama and try and twist it to suit you...good luck with that. He never said he was for gay marriage...maybe you forgot that quote. And some of us don't believe gay marriage is related to the civil rights movement. If you walk down the street, no one will know that you are gay, but if a black person walks down the street it's a different story. Black people were and sometime still persecuted because of the color of their skin. We think there is a big difference.

        I dislike Harold Ford even more every time I listen to him on MSNBC...what an asshole.

        by larryww on Fri Nov 14, 2008 at 01:04:09 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I blame every single person who voted Yes (0+ / 0-)

          for the passage of these hurtful initiatives. I blame the whites who voted for it and the AAs who voted for it and anyone of any other color who voted for it.

          My article outlines a solution to the problem of oppression and the divisions among those people who voted for and support Barack Obama. I never said oppression of gays is the same thing as racism, but both groups have been targeted for hate and attacked using the bible. Tens of thousands, perhaps even millions of gays have been tortured and murdered by the church and by Nazis. You think gays aren’t targeted as they walk down the street? Sure, one can hide their orientation from their families and employers, but being gay is as natural as one’s skin color. Just as AAs have been treated horribly and continue to experience racism, gays continue to experience homophobia and hatred, including job loss, physical attacks and murder for who they are. Those of us who are homosexual and people of color are often more at risk, especially if our families and communities reject us for our sexual orientation.

          As I said above, we don’t have to compete for which minority was hurt worse through history or try to compare which group is discriminated against worse today. Both groups experience discrimination. My article attempts to find solutions to that discrimination and to the divisions within our own party. I have higher expectations of minorities when it comes to social issues and civil rights – I expect gays to fight against racism, and I hope racial minorities will fight for civil rights for gays. I think it is particularly painful for gays who have worked for racial equality to realize that other minorities don’t always see how homophobia hurts us all. As our great leaders have taught, when any of us are oppressed, we all are dragged down.

          You say you don’t care who someone marries, but you sound like you’re angry that I’d want Obama to stand up for marriage equality. I’m not twisting his words, I’m holding him to the expectation of Change and fairness he ran on. He was a constitutional law professor, he has the tools to make the connections between black civil rights and marriage equality. You don’t have to believe that gay marriage is related to the civil rights movement, but for those of us who are old enough to have worked in both movements, the parallels are clear. I don’t cut people into groups, the polls do. My post doesn’t single out minorities as the problem, it identifies an area where we can make change.

          I’m glad to (continue) my work convincing white Americans that gays deserve equality. This post is about how Obama can further the cause in racial minority communities, and why he and the Democratic Party should take action now to establish equality, just as was necessary in the black civil rights movement.

          •  Obama did not run on gay marriage...I am a 58 (0+ / 0-)

            year old black born in the south. Don't tell me about the civil rights movement...I lived it. The only thing I am angry about is your diary singles us out as the reason prop8 was passed. Who you have sex with or marry is none of my business but Obama never was for gay marriage. I am because it is none of my business. I have been married for 28 years and if a gay couple has any affect on my marriage then it was no good in the first place. My wife is very religious and for a long time we didn't see eye to eye. She says it's in the bible. I am not that religious. It took a long time for me to convince her it doesn't matter. Instead of blaming us maybe you should convince whites and blame them. Black people have and still are being blamed for enough shit that is not our fault...I don't remember reading a diary by you that blamed whites for prop8...just this one that puts the blame on minorites...that shit makes me angry.

            I dislike Harold Ford even more every time I listen to him on MSNBC...what an asshole.

            by larryww on Fri Nov 14, 2008 at 04:01:42 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Exactly - Obama did not run on gay marriage (0+ / 0-)

              and has already stated that he’s not willing to expend political capital on LGBT issues. Which is why it’s time for progressives and the Democratic Party to step up to the plate and take a stand. Obama simply has stand by his campaign promises to repeal DADT and DOMA, and then agree with the changes that America’s progressives are demanding (if we can get our side to actually do more than just make it to the polls to vote against Bush and the Republicans).

              Larry, I’m not here to tell you about the civil rights movement. And I’m clearly not singling out anyone or any group as the reason Prop 8 passed. My article is about solutions. Recognizing that there is homophobia in specific communities and utilizing polls that show minority support for anti-gay measures, especially amongst those who voted for Obama, is not the same as blaming those communities. I’ve already said that I blame each and every single person who voted for these initiatives for their passage, regardless of the voter’s skin color. And I’ve clearly stated that AAs and Hispanics weren’t the singular reason these propositions passed. But in order to identify and implement good solutions, we need to recognize and acknowledge that the proponents of the anti-gay initiatives deliberately targeted minority groups with lies and propaganda. The result was that 7 out of 10 AAs voted against marriage equality, according to polls. We already know that white social conservatives who voted for McCain also support anti-gay measures. But this minority vote was unexpected, given the parallels between racism and homophobia. The distinction I’m making here is between those who voted for Obama, and those who didn’t, because Obama has the bully pulpit with his followers right now. We need to develop a strategy to combat homophobia and misinformation campaigns in black and Hispanic communities as well as in white communities, but the strategies we employ will likely be different based on the cultural differences between all these groups.

              Establishing federal marriage equality is not only the right thing to do, it’s likely to be a huge boost for the Democratic Party and our progressive issues.  Obama said, "...the answer to the slavery question was already embedded within our Constitution - a Constitution that had at its very core the ideal of equal citizenship under the law; a Constitution that promised its people liberty, and justice, and a union that could be and should be perfected over time." The same is true for marriage equality, and our new president studied constitutional law at an Ivy League college. He knows this, and he understands that divisions like this are what tears our country apart. What he also knows, and says, is that it takes effort by the dominant society to establish equality for an oppressed minority:

              "And yet words on a parchment would not be enough to deliver slaves from bondage, or provide men and women of every color and creed their full rights and obligations as citizens of the United States. What would be needed were Americans in successive generations who were willing to do their part - through protests and struggle, on the streets and in the courts, through a civil war and civil disobedience and always at great risk - to narrow that gap between the promise of our ideals and the reality of their time."

              Obama knows it takes huge sacrifice and work by the majority to effect change.  He also said,

              "... we cannot solve the challenges of our time unless we solve them together - unless we perfect our union by understanding that we may have different stories, but we hold common hopes; that we may not look the same and we may not have come from the same place, but we all want to move in the same direction - towards a better future for our children and our grandchildren."

              President Elect Barack Obama will have the chance to be on the right side of history on this issue.  I hope he is strong enough and wise enough to do so.  But it’s going to take a concerted effort from those of us who elected him to create and promote marriage equality as one of the mandates of our historic election for change.  

        •  Not true (0+ / 0-)

          You write:

          "If you walk down the street, no one will know that you are gay, but if a black person walks down the street it's a different story."

          Sorry, but that's BS. There have always been some black folk who passed as white, or as relatively more white (e.g., Harold Ford). In the same way, there have always been some queer folk who have passed as straight or as relatively more straight. But don't forget that every friggin day in the streets of this country visibly queer people are bashed, often to death. How does that happen if we have this supposed privilege of being able to cover? What do you think, we all have the prerogative of being able to pretend to be who we aren't? And, anyway, what kind of progressive vision would claim that the path to civil rights stops, or becomes less important, when people can avoid violence by pretending to be other people?

          Yes, conservative whites are to blame for the passage of Prop. 8. But solidarity between Queers and People of Color has suffered because of ethnic and racial minorities' continued refusal to recognize gender and sexual rights issues as civil rights issues. That's just a fact that Prop. 8 happens to nicely symbolize. And screaming at queers or belittling the injustices against us isn't moving in the right direction to change it.

          Seriously, Mary.


  •  can we find another movement to compare besides (0+ / 0-)

    the civil rights movement? Why civil rights and not the suffrage? Or the child labor movment?

    I understand where you are coming from.
    I think emotionaly, the persecution and prejudgement may feel similar. But there are some very big differences that I think the gay community is overlooking.

    In my estimation, the words "racism" and "civil rights" have some very deep meanings to AA, meanings that superceed what most of us white kids were taught in school.

    I think when AA hears the word "racism" or "civil rights". They probably think back to stories that have been handed down from past generations in their family about Jim Crowe, about slavery, about the subtle daily reminders that blacks are second class.
    So I'd lay off the civil rights talk. Its awfully personal.

    •  The civil rights movement was more about dignity (0+ / 0-)

      than it was about "rights." Frame the marriage issue in terms of dignity.

      As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.

      by ticket punch on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 06:14:40 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Wow (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      So I'd lay off the civil rights talk. Its awfully personal.

      Just wow.

      My friends Scott and Champ just had their marriage nullified.

      I'm sure they're not taking that personally though.

      •  And marriage was supposed to be mainstream.... (0+ / 0-)

        What's to take personally about people outlawing your family and saying, smugly, that they're doing it because of "values" and "religion?"

        Marriage was always a token issue anyway, IMO.

        Mainstream gay and lesbian activists prioritized marriage over an inclusive ENDA. In the process, they threw their less than mainstream companions into the river.

        It's kind of ironic, isn't it, that marriage was defeated in no small part because of a lack of support among members of a broader, more mainstream civil rights movement?

        Personally, I think that having your marriage outlawed really isn't nearly as humiliating as being made jobless and desperate by a whole community of self-righteous people who think you're wrong to exist. And Prop. 8 just goes to show, not only that America isn't quite ready yet for same-sex marriage, but that America isn't anywhere close to recognizing that a whole swath of people are human.

        But we'll try to not take that personally....

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