Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Barack Gets Spine Implant

Just when you think all Democratic contenders have to be wishy-washy, the skinny guy shows some guts, compassion, honor, 'nads, and backbone. With little splash, Barack Obama sent a letter to the influential San Francisco based Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club, writing in favor of same-sex marriage nationwide and in California.

This is a well-hush-my-mouth moment. I have long decried the lack of courage among leading Dems on this issue. During the start of the campaign, only Mike Gravel and Dennis Kucinich, neither of whom had a decent shot at being the nominee, were for marriage equality. Obama, Hillary Clinton and John Edwards all mealy mouthed the issue. They hid behind states' rights.

Of course, GOP almost-nominee John McCain's campaign quickly tried to call this a flip-flop. Instead, I look at it as just a flip, like turning a pancake so it will be ready to eat.

Consider the unequivocal letter:

Dear Friends,

Thank you for the opportunity to welcome everyone to the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club's Pride Breakfast and to congratulate you on continuing a legacy of success, stretching back thirty-six years. As one of the oldest and most influential LGBT organizations in the country, you have continually rallied to support Democratic candidates and causes, and have fought tirelessly to secure equal rights and opportunities for LGBT Americans in California and throughout the country.

As the Democratic nominee for President, I am proud to join with and support the LGBT community in an effort to set our nation on a course that recognizes LGBT Americans with full equality under the law. That is why I support extending fully equal rights and benefits to same sex couples under both state and federal law. That is why I support repealing the Defense of Marriage Act and the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy, and the passage of laws to protect LGBT Americans from hate crimes and employment discrimination. And that is why I oppose the divisive and discriminatory efforts to amend the California Constitution, and similar efforts to amend the U.S. Constitution or those of other states.

For too long. issues of LGBT rights have been exploited by those seeking to divide us. It's time to move beyond polarization and live up to our founding promise of equality by treating all our citizens with dignity and respect. This is no less than a core issue about who we are as Democrats and as Americans.

Finally, I want to congratulate all of you who have shown your love for each other by getting married these last few weeks. My thanks again to the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club for allowing me to be a part of today's celebration. I look forward to working with you in the coming months and years, and I wish you all continued success.


Barack Obama
He says repeal DOMA. He says nationwide marriage equality. He says defeat the November amendment in California. There's a candidate with some humanity and some principles. Imagine that.

Tuesday Update: It appears my commenters below and offline are not the only ones quibbling with Obama's seemingly strong marriage-equality position. For more on why "Obama's explanation for why he opposes gay marriage and opposes the proposed California amendment banning it can't be squared as a matter of logic," head to The Volokh Conspiracy.

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Anonymous said...

spine? he is still vocally opposed to SSM, don't forget. and i see little spine in having a letter read to an obscure group in CA. i agree it is better than we've heard from him so far, but when he saves his hints of being pro equality for quite little letter reading, but comes out on national tv saying MARRIAGE IS BETWEEN A MAN AND A WOMAN, well, i'm not going to be bowled over by it. Spine? More like cartilage in one vertebra.

oh that Laurel - so uppity! always insisting on being a full citizen and having a president who respects the constitution and his own heritage! when will she learn? thank god we have obama to keep her in her place!

Rick Hoyt-McDaniels said...

one quibble. Obama does not support marriage for same-sex couples. He is against discrimination, thus he opposes the California Proposition 8, and a federal constitutional amendment. But he is for civil unions, not marriage. the position statement on his website says that he would work to extend the federal benefits now reserved for married couples to all couples in civil unions or other legally recognized relationships. That's great, but as the California Supreme Court just decided if you reserve the word marriage for only opposite sex couples it's still discrimination.

massmarrier said...

Likewise to both rev. ricky and laurel, a well-known blogger also wrote privately that the letter might be for civil unions. I take it literally in its full-equality nationwide, no DOMA, no DOMA-style amendment glory.

I contend that he accepts that because of the California amendment vote in November, he knows SSM will be big in the largest state. He did not qualify his support and limit it to civil unions. I say he's in for a pound on this. If he comes back later and tries to mealy mouth this, it's too late.

If one party only stands for equal rights, which one will it be? Think. Think. Think.