Monday, May 14, 2012

Gay Vote

Four consecutive Facebook posts of mine last week were on one topic: gay marriage.  There was a lot of news.

My first post was about the constitutional amendment in North Carolina that banned same-sex marriage.  People were bummed about this vote, but I looked on the bright side:
Lots of people are understandably upset about the vote in NC yesterday, but here’s the thing. It didn’t change anything. No laws changed at all. Thirty states now have similar constitutional amendments, so don’t single out NC. But more importantly: all these bigoted constitutional amendments are just the last gasps of a dying movement. Like turning dogs and fire hoses on people during the civil rights era, people react violently to change. But the trend is clear. Gay marriage is coming. Poll after poll shows that, as the older homophobes die off, the younger generation embraces gay rights. In 50 years (or 30 or 20 or 10) people will look back on these constitutional amendments as ugly moments in our history. Voters, you’re on the wrong side of history.
The next day I re-posted this from the George Takei page:

Ha!  Pointing out the hypocrisy of blowhards on the Right is fun and easy.

Then the President himself came out with a public position, at long last, that he was in favor of gay marriage. The first president to do so!!! There was much rejoicing in Facebookland.

But there always has to be some cynic sulking in the corner and taking a dump on everyone's happiness.

After reading a great passage from another blogging Tim, See Tim Blog, I posted this on Facebook:
I've had so many friends post about Obama's public declaration on gay marriage yesterday that I can't decide which ones to "like." So instead I'll post my own thing, from some random guy's blog who is also named Tim: "Sure, it would be great if Barry [Obama] dispensed with the "state by state" rhetoric so beloved of Republicans. But guess what, children: Barry is the fucking President of the United Freaking States and he's up against a shit-ton of bollocks being thrown his way constantly forever by a certifiably insane right-wing who has been amazingly adept at not inspiring the electorate-at-large to tell it to just STFU with its constant stream of idiotic, schizophrenic claptrap. He came out with an eloquent defense of gay marriage that, guess what, probably a lot of folks--left, right, and center--can relate to: He knows gay people, knows their families, and at the end of the day just can no longer see the reason for them to be a separate category of people."  
This post got me into an argument with some FB friends.  They were upset at the "timing" of Obama's announcement, that it was a "slap in the face" to all the NC gays and singles who had their rights "stripped away" by this vote.

Um, excuse me, but Obama didn't strip away their rights.  The NC voters did.  Somehow, Obama's announcing his support for those very gays who had their rights stripped away was now "chickenshit."(Actual word used.)

What the what?!?

When I pointed out the absurd logic of this reasoning, they claimed that Obama only made that announcement for "political reasons" because he asked for money from gay rights groups afterward.

He's a politician-- of course he's going to make political calculations and try to play up his base.  But HIS BASE IS THE GAY-FRIENDLY.  Why wouldn't he ask them for money?  That's how politics works. But if you think he ONLY came out in favor of gay marriage just to win political points, your cynicism is unfounded.  Sixty-one percent of voters in a swing state had just opposed gay marriage!  I certainly wouldn't call it "chickenshit" to make a principled stand against that majority.

When I pointed this out, my friend said that it's not worth it to defend their position (because it is indefensible, I muse snarkily), but that they voted for Obama once, but won't do it again.

This just makes me sad. 

I can understand it if you oppose Obama because you're conservative-- you're against social programs or civil rights or the working class or diversity or protecting the environment.  But for someone who supports gay rights, who's ANGRY that a constitutional amendment was passed that denies gays the right to marry, for someone like that to hold a grudge against the first president ever who comes out publicly in support of gay marriage-- merely because of his TIMING? So much so that they won't even vote for him?

That's a classic case of cutting off your nose to spite your face.  If you don't believe Obama has done anything for gay rights, read this.  Would you really rather hand the fate of civil rights over to the Republicans?  (While Obama was being all "chickenshit" and coming out in favor of gay marriage, Romney was proudly re-affirming his opposition to it.)  If you don't vote for the progressive candidate, you only have yourself to blame when rights are "stripped away."

It's such twisted logic, so ridiculous and irrational, it makes me lose what little faith I had in the political process.  If this is how people decide to vote, then Democracy really doesn't work. And that makes me angry, because now that cynicism has rubbed off on me.  They've made me cynical, too.


But no, I'm not going to let a few irrational hotheads ruin this moment.  Obama's announcement is a Big Deal, and I'm going to revel in it.  As Andrew Sullivan writes, "To have the president of the United States affirm my humanity—and the humanity of all gay Americans—was, unexpectedly, a watershed. He shifted the mainstream in one interview." [My italics.]

This was the fourth (and last) thing I shared on FB, and it made me happy:

14 Steps That Will Evolve Your Views On Gay Marriage


Sugar Free said...

OK. First of all, I'm not not voting for Obama because of the timing of his announcement. I'm not voting for Obama because he hasn't done anything (except, I'm sure you'll point out, say he thinks gay marriage should be a thing. Cool. One thing he and I agree on.) He ran on this entire idea of "change". . .the only thing that has changed is that our economy has gotten worse. Am I blaming him? No. It was on its way down anyway. He didn't start it, but he's not doing a whole lot to finish it. I don't like the man. I don't like how arrogant he is. I don't like him, and that's why I'm not voting for him. Period. I was not going to vote for him long before the amendment vote even happened.

Within the facebook comments, you're trying REALLY DAMN HARD to make it look like I'm blaming Obama for North Carolina's vote. I'm not. I blame North Carolina for North Carolina's vote. I blame Obama for picking a really terrible moment for announcing his support. I don't have a good analogy for what it's like, but I'm clearly not the only person who believes that, because there was at least one other person you're friends with on facebook who agrees with me, and my best friend (a gay woman, by the way) raged on for a good half hour after Obama made his announcement about how shitty it was.

And if you knew ANYTHING about the amendment, you'd know that it has so little to actually do with gay marriage (which was ILLEGAL ANYWAY), it's embarassing that that's the one thing people latched onto. What this amendment effectively did was to say that here in NC, if you aren't married, gay, straight, or otherwise, you can't have benefits for your partner and/or children. Effectively, you DON'T COUNT unless you're married. If you're not in a one-woman-one-man MARRIAGE, you will now not be able to provide cerain things for your family. . .gay, straight, bi, trans, whatever. . . So yes, it did strip rights from people. The right to have your company or whomever help you pay for medical issues or whatever other benefits you currently get for your unmarried partner.

The company I work for has "domestic partnership" benefits, both for gay couples and straight couples that have chosen not to get married. This amendment says, "No. You can't do that. They have to be married." If that's not stripping rights, then please, by all means, give me an example of what YOU feel stripping rights away is.

I'm not entirely sure why you're trying to make this into the people who disagree with the timing believing Obama had anything to do with the vote. He didn't. I'm pretty sure the other people who think it's crap don't think he did, either.

And no, I don't feel my argument was "indefensible." I just didn't feel that facebook was a place to have the conversation that was going on, and I was trying to do the adult thing and just back down from it. Unfortunately, you took it to another place entirely, and it just pissed me off, so my plan to just back down and be mature about it didn't pan out.

It seems like you're assuming people who don't like Obama are going to vote for Romney. That's an interesting assumption. . .you don't know anything about how I'm going to vote, aside from the fact that it's not going to be for Obama. You assume that people who don't like Obama are Republicans. You're making a lot of assumptions due to the fact that some people aren't kissing Obama's ass for saying he supports gay marriage.

I've always liked your blogs, and even though I don't REALLY know you as a person, you seemed like a decent one. In this case, however, you're being a real, legit, condescending asshole because people don't agree with your opinion.

Sugar Free said...

I have no idea why the comment was made under a blog name that isn't even a thing, but I assume you know who left the comment.

Tim said...

We both agree that the amendment in NC is despicable, deplorable, and stupid. Perhaps I didn't make that clear enough in my FB posts. I don't know why you keep trying to convince me.

Where we disagree is whether Obama's announcement in support of gay marriage was an inspirational historic moment, or an offensive craven attempt at politcial maneuvering. You keep saying you don't blame him for the NC thing, but in the same breath you tell me how horrible the law is and how Obama's announcement was a slap in the face and that you're not voting for him. Forgive me if I connect the dots.

I don't know anything about your politics other than your position on this one social issue. You could have lots of reasons for not voting for Obama, but all I had to go on was the discussion at hand, which, if you'll remember, started with me saying how cool it was that a president had finally come out in favor of gay marriage.

You brought up voting, and you're right that I made the assumption that not voting for Obama means a vote for Romney. That's because, as much as it sucks, we really only have two choices in American politics right now.

I think we should judge things based on the alternatives, and if you think Obama has done nothing, consider the alternatives. He's done TONS considering the limitations of his position and the state of American politics in 2012. (Please see this list: I know it probably won't change your mind, but at least it will stop you from saying ridiculous things like, "He hasn't done anything.")

I don't agree with everything Obama does, but he's certainly the best viable option we have right now-- if you care at all about civil rights. When you say you're not voting for him (again), that essentially means you're handing political power over to the very people who passed that repugnant NC law in the first place. If you're angry, be angry at the right people for the right reasons.

Anyway, we'll have to agree to disagree. I didn't write this blog post to continue the argument, but to write what I was feeling-- to vent my condescending assholitude. I'm surprised anyone still reads it. It truly did make me sad to see Obama lose a voter over something that I thought he was being unfairly judged for. (My other FB friend would never ever vote Democrat, so she's a lost cause. :) )

Thanks for your comment.

Dan S said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dan S said...

I left a nasty comment earlier but retracted it.

I guess this is the logic train that mystifies me:

1. You support gay marriage.
2. Obama supports gay marriage, but you are upset about the timing of how he supported it.
3. Because of this, you are not going to vote for Obama, thereby providing support to his opponent, who opposes gay marriage.

In theory you are for gay marriage. In practice, you support the person who will roll back the gains Obama has made in this area.

Anonymous said...

Nothing changes, only the people attacked.

After the "War between the States," former slaves could vote!
Then along came Poll taxes.
I saw "The most Evil Man in America," Tail Gunner Joe McCarthy.
Then Truman integrated the army.
Then Emitte Tille and Martin Luther King were eleminated. And of course JFK. J. Edgar Hoover sent most Gays to the closets. Harvy Milk opened a few closet doors. All of these wars keep the veternerns in their places. Poor Obama has poor timing! But not to worry. We all have Rush L and Ann Colter to save us, with Sarah P in the wings!

In spite of it all, we actually have made some progress over the years. Doctors keep "oldsters" alive, giving fodder for the politicians to worry about.

And of course we have all of you "facebookers" to keep us young at heart!"

So keep it up Tim and company!