There’s something to be said about knowing when to revel in the moment without instantly shifting to the role of spoiler.
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As polarizing as our political culture has become, I’m not at all surprised that Republicans largely condemned President Barack Obama’s decision to publicly state his personal support of marriage equality – framing it as some declaration of war on marriage itself. Frankly, Obama could’ve been sitting on Jesus’ lap when he offered his position on this (or any other given issue) and he would continue to be looked upon as some immoral leftist. However, the more troubling opinions I’ve seen have come from people more than likely to vote for him this November.
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Yes, the line in which he took to state his position was thin and intended to remain within the realm of the political center as much as possible, but President Obama did a very great thing in articulating why he believes gay men and women deserve the right to be married.
Of course, it’s fair to point out that his note saying that states should still have the right to decide on the issue is a politically convenient thing to say. And it is also ironic that the marriage of his own parents might still very well be illegal today if you left the right to miscegenation in the hands of select states in (ditto, our collective right to vote). Still, the semantics of President Obama’s historic decision to publicly declare support for same-sex marriage should not strip the significance of the symbolism behind it. Moreover, in the end, the issue of same-sex marriage will ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court anyway.
At this point, all that the president can do is continue not defending the Defense of Marriage Act and essentially help set the tone of the debate as it moves forward. Already, others like Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I have begun to follow Obama’s lead and are expressing their support for same-sex marriage. Obviously, Obama helped spur that.
That’s why I can’t be consumed on whether or not the president is a flip-flopper, a hypocrite, or wonder aloud as to why he waited so long to state what many (like me) assumed was a belief he long shared. I’ve already written about my desire to see him come forth with this announcement, so I don’t see the point in nitpicking so soon after it. Likewise, I can’t be bothered with the doom and gloom and scenarios that have since come since footage of Obama’s now historic “Good Morning America” interview surfaced.
Will some Black people be bothered by Obama’s words in support of gay and lesbian couples? Surely, but do I expect some mass exodus from the polls in November? Hardly, and I’d like to give my own people more credit than that. Besides, anyone who ties their political support to a single issue deserves everything they get in the aftermath.
As a gay man not even sure if I ever want to get married, I do know that I deserve the right to be just as happy or miserable as the millions of American heterosexuals in marital bliss or bitter divorce cases.
A sitting president offering his support to a civil rights case of this magnitude while the country remains heavily divided on the matter – which proves the choice is not as politically beneficial as some would argue – is worthy of celebration.
I’m especially happy to find that a Black man is the president doing so – proving yet again that Black people are not the monolithic and grossly homophobic bloc others (and sometimes ourselves) paint us to be.
Was Obama’s proclamation perfect? No. But nothing ever is, particularly from a politician. What matters most is that Obama did the right thing, and in this very moment, I just want to focus on that.
Michael Arceneaux is a Houston-bred, Howard-educated writer currently based in Los Angeles. You can read more of his work on his site, The Cynical Ones. Follow him on Twitter: @youngsinick
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