A gay person who has not come out even if you know they are gay should never be forced to come out of the closet for many personal and individual reasons. We know certain constraints does not allow some to come out in the open be it right or wrong but one thing for sure is, it is not because they are ashamed of who they are. It is because of the lack of privilege/inconvenience/unequal treatments that makes life harder than it should that contributes to staying in the closet.
I also think that I don't believe President Obama has to be forced to come out of the closet for me to know that he is for marriage equality. Circumstances I will discuss below would more likely won't allow him to come out in the open yet. That does not mean he is ashamed or does not respect that gay couples deserve the same legal rights as heterosexual couples.
When the President last Thursday at the fundraising in NY said, "I believe that gay couples deserve the same legal rights as every other couple in this country
", it could not be any clearer what he meant by it -- He supports Marriage Equality in Principle. He just has not said it out loud publicly yet for a reason I will discuss further below but I don't believe he has to be forced to come out of the closet nor would it make him a homophobe for not explicitly stating it as some advocates prefer to hear it. The President has demonstrated through his actions that he is paving the way for the States to implement marriage equality and implementing policies that will give same-sex couples federal protection. For the nay sayers and opportunists like Ms. Dowd, who chastised the President for falling short of saying, "I believe in same sex marriage", let me repeat it for you that the President is not against any States legalizing Marriage equality. Let me repeat that again -- The President is not against any States legalizing Marriage equality.
Let me just make it perfectly clear that the unfairness of our equality laws for loving same sex couples is painful and very frustrating. I would love to see my gay brothers and sisters enjoy the same rights afforded to heterosexual couples be granted to them like yesterday so that we are past this chapter of the equal right debate as it should have been done long time ago like it is in many other European countries. There is so much unfair and unnecessary limitation put on loving couples of same sex and why the issue is infuriating, frustrating and emotional to many without the privilege to share the benefit of a union so many others enjoy. To demonstrate the privilege I have and same sex couples don't and connect real life frustration of a gay person, I will just quote a casual comment of someone who has lost a loved one after 39 years and sharing his frustration in the struggle to execute the will of his late Partner because of the lack of federal protection for gay couples:
...you'd see the roadblocks thrown up to us by laws of the Federal Government put in place to protect heterosexual partners and deny all others. I'd like you to sit and stare with me at his last Social Security earnings statement and think with me about how the Federal Government will now, quite lawfully, set about stealing all of that paid-in-money and redistributing it to family survivors of heterosexuals. I'd like to see how many times I'll be taxed on money that I mainly earned and that he kept in his own account. I'd like you to hear an attorney tell me how, despite the lack of mention of some of his close kin in his will, I now have to wait a period of time and notify the same people and give them an opportunity to contest a will distributing funds that I FUCKING EARNED. And that's only the government/financial/estate part of the story.
Indeed there are also many other frustrating stories like the adoption ruling in Fl that was over turn by the State Supreme Court and the inability for a United States Citizen to sponsor their long time partner/spouses (recognized by other jurisdiction) living oversees for a green card so they can be together unless they are the opposite sex. The list can go on and on.
I understand the slow pace in which progress is made and how frustrating it is be it LGBTQ issues or other important intersectional issues we face everyday but what I have realized about marriage equality is that for some it is just not good enough for the President to support marriage equality on principle but some want him to say what they want him to say without any regards to the political limitation the President is challenged with which I will address further below. However, the characteristics of some
of the vocal critics can not be conveyed better as noted by one commenter:
they have this childish need for you to BELIEVE in the tenets of their cause. To think like they do. They want PBO to say that he believes that “marriage”, (they want him to use that word) can also be between same sex people, which he doesn’t. He’s not against same sex people getting married, he just doesn’t believe in it himself. And that lack of belief drives them crazy. They want to force THEIR personal beliefs onto the President which is ironic because that’s exactly what they don’t want HIM to do!
Like I’m not a religious guy. I think it can be destructive and misleading in a lot of cases. But I’m not against anyone practicing religion. Any American should be free to worship any way they choose even though I don’t personally believe in it. A religious person doesn’t need me to believe in their religion in order for them to worship. I don’t force my lack of faith on them and they don’t force their faith onto me. We both accept and tolerate one another. But some in the LGBT community just cannot accept that. They want every single person that supports their causes to BELIEVE in the cause not just on principle, but believe that they’re correct and pure. It’s childish and counter-productive.
Contrary to that comment while I agree in its premises, I am of a believer that our President believes in marriage equality aside from his public statement that drives some people crazy while in principle has supported same sex marriage but can't say it explicitly in public yet because of a politically calculated position.
I believe there is a genuine conversation to be had here about making someone believe in your cause and having someone respect your cause. I personally feel that some in the LGBTQ community must understand that there are many folks who don't believe in same sex marriage but so long as they are not actively against your rights or in the way of progress, they don't have to believe in what you believe or say what you want them to say as long as they respect your rights. Shoot, half of the parents or grandparents of this community probably still don't approve of their daughters interracial marriage to a black man or vise verse.
The pendulum has shifted in our society that same sex marriage is becoming acceptable even if folks don't believe in it. That does not mean that those who don't mirror an identical believe system while supporting your cause in principle are haters and/or gay bashers. I understand how insensitive that could be to some but it is not being anti-gay. I think it just means that these people are just more concerned about things that affect them. The best thing for us to do is to help educate them on the issue sharing some real life examples of the inequalities to get them to not just know your cause but to feel your cause so that they can start putting real effort to advocate for the cause. If you don't think that will work, well, let me be a witness about how my views have evolved in the last three years because of many LGBT folks who intimately share their life stories at blackkos
and the PeoplesView
who have helped many feel their cause, an invaluable lesson no kind of screaming can achieve.
I was asked a question about what is preventing President Obama from coming out and supporting the cause of marriage equality 100% in the open. My response was to reminding my good friend about what he has stood for as opposed to what he hadn't said where in fact he had opposed prop 8
, declared DOMA unconstitutional
, stated that same sex couples deserve the same legal rights as every other couple
in this country, his unequivocal commitment to ensure that all unions be it marriage or civil union should have equal federal protection providing benefits that are available for a legally sanctioned marriage
, not to mention all of these accomplishment for LGBTQ causes
, which are all really a path to enable as he had stated for the States to push marriage equality as NY has just done last Friday.
Check out the above pew research polls. Unfortunately, the entire United States is not like CT, VT, MA, NH, NY or DC and it is my prediction just as a gay person in the closet weighing in their decision to come out, there is a calculated political strategy (votes) that is keeping this Administration from coming out of the closet except to say their view is evolving. States like Missouri, OH, Indiana, FL, etc., are a huge voting block with a hard core believe system who are not the most pro same-sex marriage supporters. If the POTUS goes out and indeed say explicitly "I am for same sex marriage" there is an educated prediction that it might cost him votes and that might mean losing State election he barely won in 2008 and handing power to anti-gay wingnuts that will take back any potential progress we may accomplish not only on LGBTQ issues but also on a whole host of other important interesectional issues. Politics is and always had been managing risk but what good does it do to say "I am for marriage equality" when what he is doing is exactly that in Principle except potentially lose the election not to mention taking three steps back.
But, it is not like his critics don't know why he is not coming out in full stating the position they want to hear in public. As long as many have been involved in activism, it does not take a genius to figure that out especially considering the path that has been paved. However, some forget about the path paved, forget about the progress made to call DOMA unconstitutional, forget about all that has been achieved in the last two and half years, do you really think we would have made such progress had it not been for President Obama? The non-stop criticism from some
sensationalists is not about the President's commitment for the LGBTQ causes, it is just about the fact that they didn't get to the promise land fast enough. The only cause some of these people screaming bloody hell care about is for him to say in public "I support same sex marriage" without any regards for any intersectional issues while he has been saying it in principle for quiet some time.
I know that it would mean a lot morally than politically to have the big elephant in the room come out openly say "I support same sex marriage". I also understand that his position is a calculated political position be it right or wrong. I understand some will even say why not come out and just say it if Dick Cheney can say "I support same sex marriage". I say, Dick Cheney is not running for President and his opinion to the President's is a false equivalent as he is not running for the Presidency and does not have a fraction of a chance to winning it. Most importantly, Dick Cheney can kiss my ass.
The President has been chastising
about the missing words, "I support same sex marriage", in that Friday night's fundraising speech in NY last week. Well, here is another perspective worth paying attention too as John Cole of Balloon Juice
points out the dilemma some folks just don't understand:
Cuomo and the NY politicians were very carefully advancing the issue in a delicate manner, allowing this to be a vote of conscience for the Senators, free from the usual heightened levels of partisan rancor. Things were proceeding nicely, everything pointed to a win for gay rights the next night, and Obama didn’t need to do anything to “lead.” In fact, if Obama had gone up there and delivered what these clowns wanted, and gave a rousing speech claiming he had changed his mind, it would have done nothing but blown up the current negotiations. How many Republicans who were supporting the vote would have backed away, simply because Republicans could not give Obama a “win.” The vote of conscience would be gone, and it would become a partisan battle and the vote would probably have failed.
I swear, it is almost like these idiots don’t understand politics, don’t understand risk and reward, and do not understand strategic thinking. The vote was going to pass- why would Obama do anything to insert himself into the issue and possibly blow things up? Hell, I was worried that just him appearing at the fundraiser would blow things up.
It’s almost like they just want to cheer and feel good about themselves rather than have good legislation pass.
However, let me say this to you, as the younger generation who by far are more pro-same sex marriage (like my 16 years old niece), sometime in his next term, I would expect for the President to come out of the closet and say exactly what a lot of the LGBT advocates want him to say. According to Gallup Poll:
Some polls have suggested that public opinion, nationally, is shifting in favor of same-sex marriage. The Gallup Poll found in May that 53 percent of Americans believed that the law should recognize such unions. It was the first time that Gallup found a majority of Americans supporting same-sex marriage; the support was strongest among those between ages 18 and 34, and significantly weaker among those 55 and older.
Evolving means evolving with how the country is moving and the country has been moving in the right direction in the last few years. Do you blame him for wanting to make sure he stays in power and minimize any potential risk of losing votes in States like Missouri, OH, Indiana, FL, while behind close doors he paves the way to promoting and winning the debate not to mention the progress that has been made on LGBTQ issues? No, I personal don't blame him and I am not forcing him to come out of the closet. At least not yet!
As Tobias Wolff, Law Professor at Univ. PA and Obama Campaign Legal Advisor, who is also gay pointed out
"Barack Obama has been President for a little over two years and one months and the amount he has gotten done in that period of time on Gay rights and indeed in a whole range of issue is breathtaking. It has been a monumental series of achievements including for LBGTQ Rights in this country."
Just to recap our accomplishments on LBGTQ issues granted that some feel it is overselling of Obama's LGBT Accomplishments:
1) Extended benefits
to same-sex partners of federal employees
2) Signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd
, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act
3) Instructed HHS to require any hospital receiving Medicare or Medicaid funds (virtually all hospitals) to allow LGBT visitation rights
4) Banned job discrimination based on gender identity
throughout the Federal government (the nation's largest employer)
5) Signed the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act
and while more funding is needed per the 2012 proposed budget, an increase of $80 million to domestic and global HIV/AIDS programs
6) Extended the Family and Medical Leave Act to cover Gay employees taking unpaid leave
to care for their children of same-sex partners
7) Lifted the HIV Entry Ban
8) Implemented HUD Policies that Would Ban Discrimination
Based On Gender Identity
9) Appointed the first ever transgender DNC member
10) Named open transgender appointees
(the first President ever to do so)
11) Eliminated the discriminatory Census Bureau policy that kept LGBT relationships from being counted
12) Extended domestic violence protections to LGBT victims
the Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT) Discriminatory law.
14) Declared DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) unconstitutional
and stopped Defending In Court
15) Endorsed a U.N. declaration
calling for the worldwide decriminalization of gays and lesbians around the world in an efforts to make it a worldwide policy.
Now, let's repeal DOMA.