Why I remain hopeful about Obama and gay rights

Can I say that some of my best friends are gay? Really, it's true! In fact, my dearest, most amazing friend is gay (you know who you are).

And I so clearly endorse the moral argument in favor of gay marriage that the arguments for the other side fails to move me one iota. And I feel that about no other controversial issue of our day that I can think of. Abortion, death penalty, euthanasia, torture, health care reform, etc. - I feel the force of the arguments of the other side. Not so gay marriage.

Yet I feel more patient and more confident than most others on this side of the issue that Obama will be remembered as doing right by gays and lesbians.

I have to wonder if that is because I am not gay myself and therefore I'm not feeling the issue's urgency. I would be a bit dismayed if that were the case, that is, that I need self-interest to motivate moral passion. But it's possible.

But here's the more charitable reason for my patience. I have three beliefs about Obama that not everyone shares, and the conjunction of these beliefs is what makes me patient. 1) I am very, very confident that Obama knows what the right thing to do is. 2) I also believe that he takes this issue seriously, and means to prioritize it. 3) I have also recently read a bunch of Lincoln biographies. Lincoln felt strongly that change went over much more smoothly if motivated by a shift in public sentiment. I know as a parent, I am much more likely to get pleasant compliance if I can get my son to want to do a given task. We none of us like to be told what to do. I believe Obama is hyper-aware of this, and I think he is waiting for the moment when public opinion demands change. Currently a greater and greater percentage of the public is making that shift. Ideally, the military would itself shift as well, since the military's sentiment on the matter is crucial, too.

I may be wrong about any one of these beliefs - time will, of course, tell. And they are all arguable. But it is because I have them that I have the patience that I do.

Update: Forgot to add this. The irony is that this strategy will only work if people are impatient and are demanding change loudly (as Andrew Sullivan is). It is when peole's fed-up-ness reaches a critical mass that the change will work best.


  1. As long as we have the likes of Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel calling the shots it is very much like a reversion to Bill Clinton's first term. I remember the promises and how we all thought yea just wait until the second term..... where nothing happened. John Harwood's sector on last evenings NBC News said it all. It saddens me that we can march in DC and yet have so little thought of us. It is time we thought about reactivating Act Up again. I remember years ago when I first worked for the VA, there was an Act-Up demonstration planned at our facility and the absolute panic it caused and how frightened the administration became over a bunch of gays seeking additional money and research on AIDS. They were absolutely shocked when I refused an assignment at the main door of the hospital to guard aginst their entry, (which they had no intention of doing) and when asked why I refused, I sinply stated I would be outside with them.... shocked I tell you, they were shocked. The truth be told I was shocked myself, but I did it and to this day was a proud moment in my life.

  2. According to the White House, I'm hanging out here with the "internet left fringe." Or maybe not.

    It would be nice if Pres. Scary-Smart, Nobel laureate and Hesiman trophy winner, would run an organization competent enough to avoid these routine step-in-it-and-backtrack scenarios. Well, not that I mind the continual amusement -- pass the popcorn -- but I'd put money on the Lightworker-in-Chief lying about gay rights just as he lied about GITMO, Afghanistan, healthcare, the stimulus, etc., etc., etc. There is something naive about the idea that Barack really knows the right thing to do. The only evidence we have suggests he knows what his audience wants to hear. I have no idea what the man's core principles are. Well, other than 1) give me adulation 2) I'm smarter than you, so I should control your money and your life choices. Even the MSM is starting to ask why he's such a cipher.

  3. Uncle Jim, I'm so glad you did that!

    And, look, maybe I am being Pollyanna-ish. I'm not generally, but maybe The Voice gets to me, I don't know. All I can say is, for all our sakes, I hope you guys are wrong.

  4. Don't listen to The Voice. Read what The Voice says, and see if the actions match up.