Thursday, May 10, 2012

Obama Again Supports Marriage Equality + NC Again Denies Equal Rights + Garry Wills on the Myth of Marriage

A busy week, with a big deadline, so these posts will be brief.

I was very glad to see President Barack Obama cease his seesawing and finally (once again) back marriage equality, i.e., same-sex marriage yesterday morning in his conversation with Good Morning America's Robin Roberts. Ever the politician, he qualified it by noting his avowal was only his personal belief and not a policy statement for his administration. He also made no larger or broader statements about the gross inequality that now exists between states that permit same-sex marriage and those, like North Carolina, that have now doubled down on banning it. (It was already outlawed in the Tarheel State; the new law also cancels out civil unions and domestic partnerships.) Popular opinion, however, trends on towards greater acceptance of same-sex marriage, and it eventually will exceed 75% or more, in my lifetime, I believe, which is an amazing thing to consider. And as I said, Barack Obama in a sense is coming home. In 1996, when he ran for the Illinois State Senate he supported same-sex marriage. To become US Senate from Illinois, however, he began his backwards shimmy, and has been dancing around ever since. Until yesterday.


As I noted above, Amendment One, banning same-sex marriage and stripping away even more equal rights, passed in North Carolina, 61% to 39%, on Tuesday. I'm not surprised this occurred; civil rights should never be put up to a vote, and while North Carolina is not and has never been the most conservative Southern state by any measure--and even during the US Civil War nearly sided with the Union--it is still not so progressive that Amendment One would have been defeated. I particularly feel for all the North Carolinians who now face having their government-sanctioned relationships voided, because of a bigoted majority.  One question I have for the Democratic Party, which has chosen to hold its presidential convention in Charlotte later this year: why?  North Carolina's recent history with unionized labor was bad enough, but it adds insult to injury--to use that cliché--to hold the event there now.  I'm sure there are other cities that could swing into gear; the Democrats should consider Buffalo, or Cleveland, or return to Denver. Anything but Charlotte, which admittedly provided many votes against the heinous Amendment.  But still...Democrats: Pittsburgh, maybe?


A footnote: the eminent historian and my colleague, Garry Wills, with a brief, historically informed commentary, "The Myth of Marriage," on the New York Review of Books' blog.

A quote:

Those who do not want to let gay partners have the sacredness of sacramental marriage are relying on a Scholastic fiction of the thirteenth century to play with people’s lives, as the church has done ever since the time of Aquinas. The myth of the sacrament should not let people deprive gays of the right to natural marriage, whether blessed by Yahweh or not. They surely do not need—since no one does—the blessing of Saint Thomas.

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