Saturday, March 15, 2008

Equal Marriage? Sure...Sort Of.

Our leading lights are pretty dim on marriage equality. Their perceived wisdom is that doing and saying the right thing is the wrong thing for Presidential candidates, at least as far as same-sex marriage is concerned.

It was particularly frustrating to watch the vegetable soup of Dem candidates bob and turn early on. The few who came out for marriage equality, like Kucinich and Gravel, never had a shot and had lots of obvious shortcomings. They were, in effect, the Ron Pauls of our side. Everyone enjoyed them, much like the comic relief of the clown car.

For those who support marriage, including enabling equality, the most painful aspect surely had to be John and Elizabeth Edwards. After the first debates and the big winnowing, John was the closest to a progressive left standing. Yet, despite his wife's common sense and innate fairness on the issue, he could not or would not get off his civil unions, but begrudgingly, stance. The remaining Dem candidates have the same tepid and cowardly view.

You'd think John's exposure to such civil-rights wisdom would have converted him long ago. Instead, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are as conservative as John on this.

Likewise, I generally like our U.S. Senator John Kerry, but am aghast that he can't cross the bridge here. Yesterday, there were some fascinating comments on a fine BMG diary by Laurel contrasting Kerry's GLBT positions with those of challenger Jim Ogonowski.

There was a lot of chatter on that post. Particularly noteworthy to this point was Marc Davidson's:
Kerry's position will be clear
once he's fully given up his presidential aspirations. Kerry is on the right side of this issue, but had made an unfortunate calculation that the right side was the wrong side with regard to his presidential candidacy.
In his defense (however weak), this was a calculation that most Mass. politicians made up until very recently with regard to SSM. Now the other position is a liability. Who would have thought it possible?
This (sigh) may be correct. Candidates' calculi seems to include the cynical (or pragmatic, depending on your view) position that morality and reason are only meaningful if you first get in power. Getting there may mean lying, directly or by omission.

Hillary and Bill have always been pretty socially conservative. DOMA has Bill's endorsement, literally and figuratively. I think it's his worst disgrace of his administration. Barack claims to be against SSM and may or may not be in his closeted heart.

Regardless, both remaining candidates are like Kerry here. They are convinced that were they to declare they were in favor of marriage equality, they'd be unelectable. That's bitterly amusing in as much that as recently as four years ago, being Black or female would have been viewed the same way.

As they can't fake their appearance, they have managed to make the most of what they have done and what they think. On the other hand, they can fake their thoughts and feelings on such issues as SSM.

We can bemoan that candidates second guess their positions on their perceived alignment with voters — maybe a tiny, tiny bit left of where they think the electorate is. That should give the illusion of leadership and courage.

Certainly sweeping progressive improvements are not likely to come from an administration headed by either such timorous folk. That may reduce us to hopes for:
  • Incremental improvements from a new leader
  • Support for moderate change from voters exhausted by incompetence and deceit from Republican administrations and legislators
  • At best, a few big changes when additional left-leaning legislators tip both houses of Congress from their current reactionary positions
The marriage-equality issue became a bellwether of the election. Because otherwise flaky and flawed candidates favored SSM, we can't know how that might have played if they had gotten farther in the winnowing process. We know only that the two survivors cling to their perceptions that it's too dangerous a place to visit.

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2 comments:

Leland Traiman said...

Federal Civil Unions=Marriage Equality; State Same-sex Marriage Does Not.
There is a myth that marriage has more rights than civil unions. That myth is born from the fact that civil unions have only been passed by states which have no power to grant the 1138 federal benefits of marriage. However, a federal civil union policy would. Senators Clinton & Obama support a federal civil unions policy. 48 million votes cast in 29 states, 32 million against same sex marriage, we lost 2 to 1. According to Jennifer SookneMizell of Marriage Equality USA, “Actually, we get more benefits in California in certain areas with domestic partnerships than the same gendered marrieds in Massachusetts get.” 45 states have laws or constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage. The choice is clear, federal civil unions are achievable, federal same-sex marriage is not. Federal Civil Unions=Marriage Equality

massmarrier said...

That sounds kind of like Dred Scott to me, slicking and reassembling wrongs to present them as a new view of reality all must accept. Defining achievable and then saying that's the best we can hope for, thus the most we can seek, does not represent humans in general nor Americans in particular at their best.

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