Friday, July 08, 2011

Waiting for Godot Obama


Another wearying and maybe accurate assessment of why our POTUS chickens out on same-sex marriage appears by Earl Ofari Hutchinson in the Bay State Banner. The noted author/blogger is no pinko, but he is a strong civil-rights advocate, as was his father.

Hutchinson's view does not satisfy the impatient among us, nor the strongest current civil-rights activists. Yet, this week's piece has both warning and promise. He concludes that Barack Obama truly is evolving, but that he isn't likely to voice SSM support anytime soon. Instead, he offers classical apologies for tossing homosexuals off the end of the pier while throwing ladders and life rings to virtually everyone else.

To me, there are two huge issues here:
  • Marriage equality is the civil rights issue of the 21st century so far.
  • As an allegedly progressive and liberal sort, the Prez needs to show some guts, compassion, and ability to keep public policy separate from petty personal background.
He's even a lawyer. He can't pretend not to know the distinctions. Nor can he credibly say he does not understand the separation of church and state.

However, Hutchinson falls back on the clich├ęs that may drive Obama. The most cynical on the left say he actually supports SSM, but has lied about it, first to win the Presidency and now to keep it. Perhaps, but the column has it differently.

As he wrote:

But he, like many others, still can draw the line on gay marriage and that’s fueled by deeply ingrained notions of family, church and community, and the need to defend the terribly frayed and fragmented black family structure.

This mix of fear, belief and traditional family protectionism has long been a staple among many blacks and virtually every time the issue of legalizing gay marriage has been put to the ballot, or initiative, or a legal challenge, or just simply the topic of public debate, there has been no shortage of black ministers and public figures willing to rush to the defense of traditional marriage.

If that is true, that is surely a clear personal failure. His biographers will have already noted it as such. When the time comes for national leadership and policy advancement, he instead would segment himself and align with the least defensible aspects of his background.

Frankly, I cannot believe he does not know SSM is a civil-issue, that he is AWOL, and that he still needs to stock up on courage and morality.

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