Monday, May 07, 2012

Is This a Change or the Same Old?

Yesterday Joe Biden made a strong, surprising statement in support of marriage equality, and then the White House tried to make it sound like it was nothing new.  While Biden's support for marriage is an attitudinal step in the right direction, it implied no policy advances.

Here's this morning's Washington Post:
Vice President Biden on Sunday appeared to go further than he has in the past in expressing support for same-sex marriage.

In an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Biden described himself as “absolutely comfortable” with gay couples having the same rights as heterosexual couples.

“Look. I am vice president of the United States of America,” Biden said. “The president sets the policy. I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women and heterosexual men and women marrying are entitled to the same exact rights, all the civil rights, all the civil liberties. And quite frankly, I don’t see much of a distinction beyond that.” Biden ‘comfortable’ with same-sex marriage
The New York Times analyzed the situation a bit.
The vice president’s comments are likely to intensify pressure on Mr. Obama, who says he is still wrestling with his feelings about same-sex marriage, to take a clearer stance on it before the presidential election this fall, something the White House has shown reluctance to do.

 Mr. Biden’s aides, in insisting that he was not deviating from White House policy, pointed to a 2010 statement by the vice president that the country was moving toward a “national consensus” on same-sex marriage. And in Sunday’s interview, Mr. Biden did not say explicitly that the federal government should recognize it.

But gay rights advocates, who spent Sunday morning parsing Mr. Biden’s words, said the president’s running mate had, in their analysis, conveyed new and unmistakable support for their biggest cause.

Mr. Biden called the debate surrounding the issue a simple question of “who do you love?” and “and will you be loyal to the person you love?”

“That’s what people are finding out is what, what all marriages, at their root, are about,” he said, “Whether they’re marriages of lesbians or gay men or heterosexuals.”  A Scramble as Biden Backs Same-Sex Marriage
The question is what level of attention the issue of marriage equality will receive in the upcoming presidential campaigns.  Obama may be afraid to take too bold a position, for instance advocating that Americans who love one another and want to marry and have a home and family together should be allowed to, but he also needs to be careful not to further alienate the liberal voters who supported him in the last election, hoping that he would implement some changes in social policy.


Anonymous David S. Fishback said...

I suspect the odd (but perhaps cogent) political approach from the Obama Camp is this: Those who are anti-gay rights will vote against us no matter what, and those who are pro-gay rights will vote for us whether or not we take the last step now. Anything we gain in terms of motivating our base on this issue to bring out more voters who might otherwise sit it out is likely to be balanced or outweighed by the bringing out of more anti-gay voters who otherwise might sit it out.

But what about what is left of the middle on this issue? For those still working through the issue -- people who are sympathetic to gays, are fine with civil unions, but just can't get over the hump on the M word -- how do we deal with them? Biden's language was insructive on this point, when he talked about the culture moving toward acceptance of same sex marriage. He is trying to say, "We are walking this journey with you." This, in the context of all the actions President Obama has taken to advance the ball on gay rights (DADT, opposing DOMA in the courts, etc.)

This sounds warm amd fuzzy, and in a sense it is.

But at some point, people expect their political leaders to lead -- not just follow or go with the flow (even when, as has been the case here, the political leadaers are trying to channel the flow in the right direction). Lyndon Johnson, for all his many flaws, determined in 1963-65 that waiting for a gradual change in the culture with respect to segregation was not good enough.

But Johnson's decision was, in a real sense, easier because the Civil Rights Movement had been effective in bringing the issue to the boiling point. The gay rights movement's successes in recent years have been more a function of the slow simmer than of the boiling point. And it may well be that right now this is an issue that succeeds more with a simmer than with an explosion.

Does it make a difference whether President Obama crosses the final stream now or next year? Well, it might make a big difference in Maryland, where a completion of his "evolution" could well bring many people -- particularly African Americans -- who are in favor of civil unions, but not marriage, to cross that stream with him. And in a close vote, it could be the difference as to whether or not we have full civil marriage equality in Maryland.

May 07, 2012 4:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Right after Biden made his comment, the group Catholic Democrats immediately Tweeted the little known fact that Catholics are the most pro-gay marriage of all Christian groups. Yet the backwards politics of the U.S. Bishops means most people don’t know that.

May 07, 2012 5:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Monday that he supports gay marriage rights, a declaration that came as President Obama's reelection campaign downplayed comments from Vice President Joe Biden on Sunday that some saw as an evolution in the administration's position.

Speaking on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," Duncan was asked, "Do you believe that same-sex men and women should be able to get legally married in the United States?"

The answer was simple and direct.

"Yes, I do."

Duncan's answer went further than Biden did Sunday, when he said he was "comfortable" with the idea of "men marrying men" and "women marrying women" having the same rights as heterosexual couples.

In November, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan said he was in favor gay marriage and suggested that the issue could be part of the agenda in the second term. "We've got more work to do in the Obama administration in a second term," Donovan told the Metro Weekly, a Washington newspaper. "Like marriage equality."

A month later Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivered a strong defense of gay rights in Geneva, saying "gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights." The White House backed up the message.

Obama campaign senior strategist David Axelrod, speaking to reporters on a conference call Monday morning, called Biden's comments "entirely consistent with the president's position, which is that couples who are married, whether they are gay or heterosexual couples, are entitled to the very same rights and very same liberties."

He added that "there couldn't be a starker contrast on this issue than with Gov. Romney, who has funded efforts to roll back marriage laws in California and other places, who believes that we need a constitutional amendment banning the rights of gay couples to marry, and would take us backward, not forward."

May 07, 2012 5:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

all three major polls out this morning (Ramussen,Gallup,Politico) have Romney taking a lead nationally over Obama

it's begun and Obama won't risk endorsing gay "marriage"

when he's down by double digits in October, he will make a last gasp effort to motivate the base and this may be one move he takes to roll the dice and try to get gays to save at the polls

but Americans will reject him and once more a President will be brought down by supporting the gay agenda

people forget that the last Democratic President, Clinton, was doing great until he pushed for gays in the military and he lost the Congress to Newt Gingrich as a result

supporting the gay agenda is a well-known negative in politics

May 08, 2012 8:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How To Kill An Attack Ad By Telling The Truth (Video)

May 08, 2012 8:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is all about raising $ for re-election. They don't really care about homosexuals. They only tolerate for the $.

May 08, 2012 11:01 AM  
Anonymous swing, batter, saawiinng!! said...

Former New York Gov. George Pataki called on President Barack Obama Tuesday to stop playing politics with the issue of gay marriage and to clearly state his position on the issue.

"It's very simple. Either you're for something or you're against it. And Vice President Biden has made it plain he's for it," Pataki said, referring to Biden's comments on Sunday that have caused a headache for the White House.

"President Obama, on the other hand, is looking to have both sides, where he's appealing to supporters of gay marriage but is afraid to alienate those who don't," Pataki said.

"His position is a lot like what he said to then-Prime Minister Medvedev at the open mic in Europe, where he said, 'Just wait til after the election, I'll have a lot more flexibility then,'" Pataki said. "I think the American people deserve to know today where President Obama stands today and where he will stand next year on this issue."

Pataki made his comments on a Republican National Committee conference call aimed at criticizing Obama's economic record on the same day the president is traveling to New York. He has supported giving same-sex couples the same economic and legal privileges as heterosexual couples, and last year the New York Daily News said he was "pro-gay rights."

Same-sex marriage is on the front burner this week as North Carolinians are voting Tuesday to decide whether to add an amendment to the state constitution that defines marriage between a man and a woman as "the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized." Meanwhile, Obama's attempt to signal support for gay rights while still opposing gay marriage is an increasingly tenuous position. He was boxed in this weekend not only by Biden but also by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who said Monday that he believes same-sex marriage should be legal.

But in crucial swing states like Virginia, where the election this fall could turn for or against the president, the southwestern portion of the state is deeply conservative and would likely be energized to vote against Obama if he took a clear stand on the issue.

Pataki's comments are one of the first signs that Republicans are eager to press Obama on the issue, even though Romney, like most Republicans, is not in favor of gay marriage.

Also on the conference call, Pataki said that he is "an enthusiastic supporter" of Mitt Romney's candidacy.

May 08, 2012 3:53 PM  
Anonymous David S. Fishback said...

It will be interesting to see if the GOP is lured into the trap of bashing gay people. Writ large, that would be a very dangerous game for them to play.

May 08, 2012 5:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who secured hospital visitation and medical decision-making rights for gay partners?

President Obama did, not Pataki.

Who repealed Don't Ask Don't Tell?

President Obama did, not Pataki.

Who refuses to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court?

President Obama does, not Pataki.

Who signed the bill into law legalizing same-sex marriage in the State of New York?

Governor Cuomo did, not Pataki.

Pataki's run for President in 2012 went nowhere, fast. In August last year, Pataki, prompted considerable head-scratching after signaling that he might declare his candidacy at a Republican picnic in Des Moines. On August 24, 2011, what appeared to be a draft of a Pataki presidential campaign Web site was uncovered by The New York Observer, raising expectations further.

Pataki faced long odds at winning the Republican nomination, in part because his moderate stances on some social issues would not likely sit well with many primary voters. Lacking significant fund-raising or campaign infrastructure, Pataki was roundly mocked by political analysts for his consideration of a run.

On August 26, 1011, Pataki said he had decided not to seek the Republican 2012 presidential nomination himself.

What has Romney said he'd do for gay rights if he becomes President? He will eliminate equal rights for gays, reinstate DADT, defend DOMA, and work to pass a Constitutional amendment to enshrine prejudice against American citizens who are GLBT.

Romney probably even wants the US Constitution to allow each GLBT US citizen to have three-fiflths the rights all other US citizens have or less. Being denied the right to marry the person you love means being denied your inalienable right to pursue happiness.

May 08, 2012 6:01 PM  
Anonymous swing, batter, suuuwwwiiingg!! said...

it hasn't ever been before

why would it be now?

even though there are large numbers who prefer to not make a big deal about the whole gay thing, few have a strong commitment to it

in short, "bashing gays", by which I assume you mean not endorsing the gay agenda worldview, holds little risk

few voters care- including gays

May 08, 2012 6:02 PM  
Anonymous swing, batter, sweeewiing!! said...

"that would be a very dangerous game for them to play"

this is what my last post was responding to

some lunatic butted in line while I was typing

"Being denied the right to marry the person you love means being denied your inalienable right to pursue happiness."

why wouldn't this brilliant line of reasoning also apply to bigamy, bestiality and incest?

or marriage to a palm tree for that matter?

if you love it, how can you exercise your inalienable right to pursue happiness unless the government will award you a marriage license to it?

how about if you want to marry a Tiffany lamp or Napoleon's corpse?

is that really hurting anyone else?

why won't the bigots of the world just go along so you can pursue happiness?

btw, your detail of Obama's work for the gay agenda misses the point we're discussing

we all know he will work to achieve the destruction of marriage

the point is that he is lying about his intentions and Americans deserve the truth before voting for him

May 08, 2012 6:38 PM  
Anonymous in my mind, I'm going to Carolina said...

great news, thanks to Obama!!

RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina voters approved a constitutional amendment Tuesday defining marriage solely as a union between a man and a woman, becoming the latest state to slam the door shut on same-sex marriages.

Returns showed the amendment passing with about 58 percent of the vote to 42 percent against. North Carolina is the 30th state to adopt such a ban on gay marriage.

Tami Fitzgerald, who heads the pro-amendment group Vote FOR Marriage NC, said she believes the initiative awoke a silent majority of more active voters in the future.

"I think it sends a message to the rest of the country that marriage is between one man and one woman," Fitzgerald said at a celebration Tuesday night where supporters could have their photo taken beside a seven-layer white wedding cake.

They later cut into the cake, with Fitzgerald taking the first slice.

"The whole point is simply that you don't rewrite the nature of God's design based on the demands of a group of adults," she said.

In the final days before the vote, members of President Barack Obama's cabinet expressed support for gay marriage and former President Bill Clinton recorded phone messages urging voters to oppose the amendment.

Supporters of the amendment responded with marches, television ads and speeches. The Rev. Billy Graham was featured in full-page newspaper ads backing the amendment.

North Carolina law already bans gay marriage, but an amendment seals the door on same-sex marriages.

The amendment also goes beyond state law by voiding other types of domestic unions from carrying legal status.

Supporters had run their own ad campaigns and church leaders urged Sunday congregations to vote for the amendment. The Rev. Billy Graham, who at 93 remains influential even though his last crusade was in 2005, was featured in full-page newspaper ads supporting the amendment.

Both sides spent a combined $3 million on their campaigns.

Six states – all in the Northeast except Iowa – and the District of Columbia allow same sex marriages. In addition, two other states have laws that are not yet in effect and may be subject to referendums

The North Carolina amendment was placed on the ballot after Republicans took over control of the state Legislature after the 2010 elections, a role the GOP hadn't enjoyed for 140 years.

Joe Easterling, who described himself as a devout Christian, voted for the amendment at a polling place in Wake Forest.

"I know that some people may argue that the Bible may not necessarily be applicable, or it should not be applicable, on such policy matters. But even looking at nature itself, procreation is impossible without a man and a woman. And because of those things, I think it is important that the state of North Carolina's laws are compatible with the laws of nature but, more importantly, with the laws of God."

North Carolina is the latest presidential swing state to weigh in on gay marriage. Florida, Virginia and Ohio all have constitutional amendments against gay marriage, and Obama's election-year vagueness on gay marriage has come under fresh scrutiny.

Obama, who supports most gay rights, has stopped short of backing gay marriage. Without clarification, he's said for the past year and a half that his personal views on the matter are "evolving."

May 08, 2012 10:28 PM  
Anonymous can't ya just taste the moonshine? said...


North Carolina banned gay "marriage"?

and they also voided the whole "domestic partner" game?


and, still, in no state has an electorate approved gay 'marriage"?

sounds like Obama's right to not endorse gay marriage!!

everyone's going to the Outer Banks this summer to thank North Carolina for coming through and supporting marriage!!!!!

May 08, 2012 11:06 PM  
Anonymous almost heaven said...

it's great to hear domestic partners have been eliminated in the Tarheel state

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Just how unpopular is President Barack Obama in some parts of the country? Enough that a man in prison in Texas is getting 4 out of 10 votes in West Virginia's Democratic presidential primary.

The inmate, Keith Judd, is serving time at the Beaumont Federal Correctional Institution in Texas for making threats at the University of New Mexico in 1999.

May 09, 2012 1:20 AM  
Anonymous David S. Fishback said...

To James Taylor Anon,

Thanks for supporting my point. It was just this sort of ad hominem attacks on the humanity of gay people that led several members of the Maryland General Assembly to switch their votes in favor civil marriage equality, thus assuring its passage earlier this year. It will be very hard for Mitt Romney to run on a "homophobia with a human face" platform in a general election with this sort of ugliness.

May 09, 2012 3:36 AM  
Anonymous can you just feel the sunshine? said...

"It was just this sort of ad hominem attacks on the humanity of gay people that led several members of the Maryland General Assembly to switch their votes in favor civil marriage equality"

ah, addition to violating their Constitutional right to pursue happiness, not changing the definition of marriage to accomodate their fantasies is also an ad hominem attack on their humanity

and since we live in a society where the voters have consistently, without exception, rejected the idea of replacing marriage with a new formulation which lets gay sex partners call themselves "married", I guess David thinks we live in a pretty wicked society, attacking humanity and happiness as we do

and the President you adore so much, he won't say a word against this attack on happiness and humanity

maybe you should vote for someone else

May 09, 2012 7:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"maybe you should vote for someone else"

LOLOL If you think Mitt will allow GLBT people to pursue their happiness better than Obama will, you have a problem with reality.

Chris Matthews got this one right:

"Let me finish with this.

My problem with two-party politics is that you are inevitably drawn into saying things in public that you would normally prefer not to.

If you are a Democrat, for example, you are supposed to be down the line for the labor union positions, be down the line for the women's groups, down the line for the immigration advocates, and oh yes, down the line for the latest bipartisan push for war. For this reason I'd rather be a commentator and pick my fights.

Look, I've been fairly positive about all the causes of gay people in the country. I think the president is clearly with those causes. It's about saying the right thing when it will achieve the right purpose.

Would it achieve the purpose of marriage equality for the president to back it now?

Would it advance the cause a year or two ahead of its current pace of acceptance or would it simply incur casualties in the cause -- the loss of several more culturally conservative states including North Carolina or Ohio, or cost Obama even a surprising state, like Pennsylvania?

Would that advance the cause or would it solidify the Republican opposition because they would owe it big time?

Would it put Mitt Romney in the White House, someone who said he would never give up his opposition to same-sex marriage?

I believe the president A) knows more about his political challenges than the rest of us and B) is basically liberal on such matters. I can't read his mind or his heart but I can judge him as a person and he is not the sort to condemn people for how they were born and th.., how the love they know, and on the love they know because of who they are.

The statement that he is evolving places him in sync with many Americans. If he is a further stage, or at a further stage of evolution than he is willing to admit, that is not a point on which to decide against him. It is a far stronger reason to vote against his opponent, whose evolution, as he just declared, is nonexistent."

May 09, 2012 8:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Obama didn't carry West Virginia in his landslide win int 2008 either. WVA's five electoral votes don't matter.

Texas prisoner Mr. Judd has no declared delegates running so this little protest vote won't matter either.

Obama is beating Romney in the electoral college 294-170, with WVA firmly in the Romney column.

May 09, 2012 8:45 AM  
Anonymous it's not easy bein' grren said...

"LOLOL If you think Mitt will allow GLBT people to pursue their happiness better than Obama will, you have a problem with reality"

I wasn't suggesting you vote for Mitt

send Obama a message and vote for the Green Party

you might lose this election, but it would send a message to future Democrats and pay long-term dividends

May 09, 2012 11:26 AM  
Anonymous gimme some truth said...

"Would it achieve the purpose of marriage equality for the president to back it now?"

so, you think politicians should lie about their views if that will get them elected

the homosexual-liberal advocacy complex has always been morally bankrupt and this is simpy another example of it

May 09, 2012 11:31 AM  

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