I Don’t Believe Them

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After yesterday’s decision from the California Supreme Court, both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama issued statements about the issue.   From the Associated Press:

“Barack Obama has always believed that same-sex couples should enjoy equal rights under the law, and he will continue to fight for civil unions as president. He respects the decision of the California Supreme Court, and continues to believe that states should make their own decisions when it comes to the issue of marriage,” the Illinois senator’s campaign said.

Clinton’s campaign said she “believes that gay and lesbian couples in committed relationships should have the same rights and responsibilities as all Americans and believes that civil unions are the best way to achieve this goal. As president, Hillary Clinton will work to ensure same-sex couples have access to these rights and responsibilities at the federal level. She has said and continues to believe that the issue of marriage should be left to the states.”

It appears that both are on the same page here.   They believe marriage decisions are best left to the states, but that in their minds, civil unions are the answer (although Obama’s statement is less certain on this second point, saying he’ll fight for civil unions, but only by implication saying that they are preferable to marriage).

But, do you believe them?   Do you believe that these former civil rights workers/lawyers/activists think that this issue of equality, arguably one of the most important civil rights issues of the early 2000s (and late 1900s), is best left to individual states to decide and that full marriage isn’t the best solution?

I don’t believe them one bit.   I have no doubt that, apart from their public political personas, they both believe that this is absolutely not for states to decide and that basic conceptions of fairness and equality mandate marriage, nothing less.   Basically, they’re both lying to appease the American public.   I understand   why they feel like they have to lie, but I don’t like that from my politicians on issues of such importance.   I want them to lead, not follow.

- David S. Cohen

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0 Responses to I Don’t Believe Them

  1. Stealing my idea (he posted 30 minutes after I did!), Andrew Sullivan puts it more firmly: “Obama’s position strikes me as transparently flimsy. His only defense of his support for full marriage rights without the m-word is a function, in his description, of comfort and religion. But he is very comfortable around gay people, gay couples and our families. And his own church actually favors equal marriage rights for gay couples – and its inclusion of gay people was obviously a reason why TUCC was attractive to Obama. Marriage is the one issue where Obama is still politically afraid, intellectually vacuous, and a moral coward. This is the civil rights movement of our time. Whatever happened to the fierce urgency of now?”

  2. Diane says:

    Yes, it was Obama who recently said of his former gay professor that he was a nice guy who “didn’t proselytize or anything like that.” I immediately thought of an acquaintance of mine who recently said of his African American handyman of decades, “He’s a good guy; he doesn’t steal from me or anything.”

    Then there’s the Donnie McClurkin circus, paid for by PAC money Obama claims doesn’t exist.

    If Obama is “progressive,” I’m Madonna.

  3. Ann Bartow says:

    Ouch. Diane, I’m always very pleased to have you comment here, but we are trying to avoid that kind of discussion, in favor of sticking more generally to issues if possible. Feelings are running so high.

    I heard many people describe Dennis Kucinich as “the most progressive” candidate, but one of his primary fund raisers was his good friend Larry Flynt. I’m pretty jaded, cynical and crabby about this Dem primary, to put it lightly.

    As for David’s query, I don’t believe them either. Then again, I think marriage in its current form can be deeply problematic, so I’d be in favor of civil unions for everyone, regardless of sexual orientation. But I know that isn’t what either candidate is suggesting.

  4. Diane says:

    Sorry, Ann–just making the point that I don’t believe Obama. I’ll play by the rules if I comment again. Yours must be the only blog that is staying away from the high-running feelings…and that’s a good thing.

    And to add to what you said–ALL marrigaes in this country ARE civil unions. Five priests can declare you husband and wife, but it means nothing until you go to the correct office and get the correct papers and sign them. That’s what makes my so upset about the “civil union” v. “gay marriage” argument. I think it’s a false one. No one is suggesting that churches have to perform gay marriages, and I wish that those who call themselves progressive would step out of the word game and remind Americans that all of our marriages are civil contracts.

  5. hysperia says:

    Wouldn’t it be just so “way cool” though if either Obama or Clinton just said well hell, marriage is a matter for religion, the legal consequences of domestic partnership and child-rearing are civil. Sooooo, if you wanna get married go to Church and otherwise the State will “hitch” you?

    Am I being thick or is this not a way to sort this “problem” out that actually sounds quite reasonable?? You could have offical churches for people who aren’t religious but want to get married in a church. There ARE churches made up of or who welcome gay and lesbian people. So pretty much anyone can then get “married” who wants to. And anyone who wants to get civilly hitched can go ahead. What’s the problem?

  6. Ann Bartow says:

    Hysperia, if I understand you correctly, I agree, but I think politically it’s a hard position to hold because it seems like a slap at religion.

    Diane, no worries. And your substantive point is a good one. Of course the marriage “contract” is different in every state and the state you are living in can change the terms and conditions of your marriage without your consent, and without notice or reason.

  7. hysperia says:

    Assuming you agree with me Ann, if I have even properly articulated what I mean, why does every good political idea seem to fade away with the response that it’s a hard position to hold? If I can imagine how it could be argued without being a slap at religion (i.e. you get full respect for your beliefs – you can still perform legal marriages and deny that service to whom ever you want), how come none of the candidates these days use that rather limited form of imagination?

    I’m perhaps just burned out by the overwhelming political rhetoric of the last few months (years?) and probably asking a stupid question.

  8. Ann Bartow says:

    Hysperia, your question isn’t stupid at all. I guess I have two answers. One is that some big changes seem to require a lot of incrementalism. The other is that people have certain expectations of their leaders, and they must be met for a candidate to be viable, such as a belief in God and affinity for certain types of social ordering.