Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Melissa and Barack: Between principle and political expediency

Here's what Melissa Etheridge had to say about the passage of Prop 8:

Okay. So Prop 8 passed. Alright, I get it. 51% of you think that I am a second class citizen. Alright then. So my wife, uh I mean, roommate? Girlfriend? Special lady friend? You are gonna have to help me here because I am not sure what to call her now. Anyways, she and I are not allowed the same right under the state constitution as any other citizen. Okay, so I am taking that to mean I do not have to pay my state taxes because I am not a full citizen. I mean that would just be wrong, to make someone pay taxes and not give them the same rights, sounds sort of like that taxation without representation thing from the history books.

Okay, cool I don't mean to get too personal here but there is a lot I can do with the extra half a million dollars that I will be keeping instead of handing it over to the state of California. Oh, and I am sure Ellen will be a little excited to keep her bazillion bucks that she pays in taxes too. Wow, come to think of it, there are quite a few of us fortunate gay folks that will be having some extra cash this year. What recession? We're gay! I am sure there will be a little box on the tax forms now single, married, divorced, gay, check here if you are gay, yeah, that's not so bad. Of course all of the waiters and hairdressers and UPS workers and gym teachers and such, they won't have to pay their taxes either.

There's considerable pain as well as outrage in the rest of the piece if you care to read it.

But what interests me more is the comment I got from Pandora to a post I wrote earlier this week suggesting that we won't find President Obama coming out to take on the issue of gay marriage any time soon:

I think it will happen, but it won't happen immediately. Too much like Clinton's "gays in the military." Obama would be foolish to lead off with this and allow parallels to be drawn between his and Clinton's administrations. Also, Prop 8 was placed on these ballets as a trap, to create a "fierce urgency of now." Conservatives want nothing more than for Obama to take the bait and place the Culture War front and center. That's my political perspective.

My personal perspective is quite different. I think Prop 8 sucked

Which is, basically, a way of saying, Thanks, all you gays who voted Democratic, we'll see you again in four years because there are a lot of issues on the table more important than your civil rights. We could have to spend some political capital on you, and that didn't work out too well for Bill Clinton.

[For fun, try replacing the word "gays" with the word "negroes" and see how it reads.]

Think about it, folks. There was never any way that Barack Obama was going to lose California no matter what he said. If he had even objected to the Mormons taking his comments on marriage out of context or made a single appeal to the legions of newly registered African-American voters not to allow their fellow American citizens to be treated the way they had been treated throughout history....

Prop 8 passed by 51%. A 1.1% difference, that was easily within Senator Obama's capability to deliver.

And he didn't.


JohnnyX said...

"Prop 8 passed by 51%. A 1.1% difference, that was easily within Senator Obama's capability to deliver.

And he didn't."

You're right, and someone who voted for him it royally pisses me off. It's pretty much total crap that he would specifically mention gay Americans in his speeches but then conveniently skirts the issue on Prop 8.

Your post is pretty much dead on - seems gay is the 21st century version of black.

pandora said...

Immediately means just that - immediately. I don't think this issue will have to wait four years. Obama's in office now and I'd venture to say that the gay community stands a better chance of attaining equal rights under his administration than McCain's.

And while CA going blue was never in question, a lot of other states were. Step one was getting elected. If you don't succeed with step one there is no step two.

And while I don't doubt that this has always been an issue for you, I question why you weren't constantly slamming - and I mean slamming - McCain on this point. Do you hold Republicans to the same standard? Is their bigotry okay simply because they make no secret of their homophobia?

Tyler Nixon said...

This will forever be a stain on this historic election.

Barack could have issued a strong statement of opposition to Prop 8 and specifically asked all his supporters in California (even just through millions of email addresses) to vote NO.

But then Barack, long before this, had thrown non-hetero couples under the bus in his rote statements opposing same-sex marriage. Don't want to be accused of being "soft on traditional marriage" do we?

The difference between McCain and Barack on this is that Barack could have changed a significant # of his supporters' minds (e.g. the 70% of his 95% AA support that voted yes on Prop 8). To say otherwise is to dismiss the man's immense influence in this election - a laughable proposition.

Of course for Barack to have done this would have required Barack's giving a rat's ass about civil rights for all - including those to whom he only paid lip service in his speeches - irrespective of his political/electoral standing. This wasn't gonna happen folks. If you believe the myriad declarations, before and after, this election was all about the first black president, not to be risked even slightly to look out for the "gays" in California (or anywhere else for that matter).

We'll see what Barack does in the future, but I bet we see a lot more socially conservative Barack Obama in the years ahead than anyone on either side reckoned or is ready to admit.

But it's all about Obama, dontchaknow, so I am sure his apologists will be ready with excuses and reasons for delay and denial of civil rights to millions of American citizens.

Bravo to Johnny X. I sincerely appreciate your comments.

Duffy said...


"Obama's in office now"

No, he isn't. He also has no reason to expend political capital on this.

He has promised many things to many people but he didn't promise anything on this one.

Steve Newton said...

The picture you're painting is of a man who ducked a tough moral issue to get elected, and from a utilitarian point of view I guess that's fine.

As for McCain--one of the chief reasons I'm not a GOPer is their social conservatism--at the very least you cannot accuse him of hypocrisy. He's never courted the gay vote the way Obama did. Obama repeatedly presented himself as gay friendly, repeatedly campaigned in that community, and then pandered to prejudice by allowing Biden to go into his debate and say "We don't support gay marriage."

Tell me this, Pandora: what should be higher on the "to do" list than civil rights for American citizens?

G Rex said...

Lewis Hamilton! Nice one, Duffy.

So what about the voting data going around that whites in California voted pretty much 50-50 on Prop 8, but that blacks were 70-30 in favor? Certainly, blacks get pretty upset when gay rights are equated with the civil rights movement. Does the black community have more antipathy towards gays? That's my impression, anyway. Did a high black voter turnout for Obama help pass Prop 8? I'd like to see the numbers, anyway.

Shirley Vandever said...

Exit poll data showed seven in 10 black voters and more than half of Latino voters backed the ballot initiative, while whites and Asians were split.

Denise Fernandez, a 57-year-old African-American from Sacramento, said she voted for Obama but felt especially compelled to cast a ballot this year to support Proposition 8.

"I came out because of my religious beliefs. I believe a Christian is held accountable, and we have to make a difference," Fernandez said.


Steve Newton said...

g rex
Read the Slate link in the original post for an analysis of the African-American vote on Prop 8

John Bisceglia said...

More and more of us are WAKING UP, America. No taxation without equality; simple math.

Now the feds will need to repeal DOMA and DADT, grant us FULL equal rights (including marriage), and begin to start viewing our families - OUR FAMILIES - as the tax-paying contributing members of society we are.....well.....we USED to be!

Because if our HOMES, our FAMILIES, our very BELOVED are not acknowledged and valued as other families are legally, whatever we do outside of that home will never be acknowledged and valued legally, such as adopting children, working without discrimination, or serving openly in the military.

FAMILY FIRST. What is more important than FAMILY?

We owe the IRS absolutely NOTHING until equal. NOTHING. Get it?

This is NOT a test.
This is NOT a debate.
This is NOT a vote.
This is definitely NOT a popularity contest.

This IS justice - GAY TAX PROTEST.