Another reason Obama’s evolution matters

Timothy Kincaid

May 10th, 2012

Ten years ago, objection to same-sex marriage was – for most people – genuine. It may have generated from nothing other than unfamiliarity, mild prejudice, or just confusion, but for the most part it was not contrived or cynical or pandering.

Change is difficult and humans seem to have a blind instinct to defend “how things are supposed to be”. Considering that friends can have red-in-the-face, top of your lungs “discussions” about whether landing on “Free Parking” is supposed to pay out the money collected from “Chance” cards in Monopoly, it should be no surprise that decent people objected to changing what marriage “is supposed to be”.

But that was ten years ago. And despite the blustering of the professionally indignant defenders of (their own) religious freedom, the horizon is clear and the future is no mystery. Equality is coming, not on little cats feet like the fog, but galloping at breakneck speed. And there’s a good reason why.

Gay marriage was new. And odd. And a contradiction to what the terms were understood to be. It was like chocolate cereal or raw fish or women wearing slacks or smart phones. It just took getting used to.

But once the “new” wares off, real objections have to be considered. I won’t eat coco-puffs, but sushi isn’t so bad and after years of dragging my feet, I finally discovered that I can’t live without an iPhone.

And, as we all know, there aren’t many valid objections to same-sex marriage. Either you believe that the instinctive fears about drastically changing society have merit (that we just haven’t yet discovered) or you don’t. And as more people came to know gay folks, these concerns seem less likely.

Which brings me to my point: Mitt Romney doesn’t believe that letting gay people marry will harm society – or certainly not more than other things he puts up with. And he is fully aware that his views harm gay people and are unfair, unconstitutional, and a violation of the American ideal. He knows that. Other than a few truly insane people (Hello, Lew), they all do. They just don’t think that hedonistic sinners who defy God and social convention should have any claim on fairness, constitutionality, and the American ideal.

And furthermore, they know that the American public has little tolerance right now for blatant homophobia (other than, perhaps, in North Carolina). While ten years ago it might have been acceptable to laugh at the homos playing house, now that doesn’t fly. And the truth probably is that a huge chunk of politicians who vote against the American principles of equality couldn’t care less if gay people marry. They are just selling a product and pandering to a (rapidly shrinking) base.

But until yesterday, those who oppose equality had the perfect out. They didn’t have to look bad. They didn’t have to seem unreasonable. They didn’t have to appear to be motivated by less-than-admirable prejudices.

They could just say (and I know you all are as sick of hearing it as I am), “I don’t think people should be stopped from visiting loved ones in the hospital, but I don’t support gay marriage. My position is the same as President Obama’s.”

Not any more, it isn’t, Bubba. Not any more.

Jim Burroway

May 10th, 2012

Welcome back! And well done.


May 11th, 2012

Ha, this is the main thing I’ve been thinking about ever since Obama’s announcement. Now none of the anti-gay marriage people can say they have the same position as Obama (even though they didn’t in the first place).


May 11th, 2012

Welcome back Timothy! Great commentary. I was hoping that this big story would be enough to draw you back.


May 11th, 2012

It’s time for Hillary to change her public position. Now there is certainly no reason not to.

Jay Jonson

May 11th, 2012

Good analysis. Welcome back.


May 11th, 2012

Welcome back, Timothy!

“While ten years ago it might have been acceptable to laugh at the homos playing house, now that doesn’t fly.”

You are so right. I’ve seen the revolution in my own neighborhood, where we’ve lived now for 26 years and have become a ‘normal’ fixture in the landscape. Even my next door neighbor, who looked utterly shell shocked when I told her we’d gotten married, has come around… Even better, she later expressed her dismay when I told her that, yes, we are married, just not in Virginia. “What do you mean”, she asked. And when I replied, “Remember that constitutional amendment you voted for…”

We’re winning, one person at a time.

Thank you, Obama, for finally standing forward and doing what was right.

David Waite

May 11th, 2012

Excellent! The exclamation point signifies this is exactly what I would have written if I could write as well as you, so naturally I agree with every word. It is very good to see you back; I’ve missed you.

Ben In Oakland

May 11th, 2012

Well, yours truly wrote a letter on This Very Subject to the Chronicle, and it was published as the leaqd letter this morning.

Feel free to use as you will.

THANK YOU, Mr. President, for showing courage, conviction, and compassion for ALL Americans.

The rhetorical Rottweilers of the Religious Right rant about the completely mythical “redefinition” of and the “war” on marriage, without offering any reality-based rationale of how Ben and Paul’s civil marriage affects anyone else, let alone “redefines” marriage. In their very real war on gay people, they are uninterested in the real and matching 40% divorce and illegitimacy rates among heterosexuals.

Among many definitions, marriage is the legal creation of kinship. Why is that different for gay people?

How do our families and children endanger others? I have friends who have been devoted couples for longer than all seven of the Gingrich and Limbaugh marriages combined. Why are they of less importance?

Women didn’t have suffrage because they were legally property. Women voting didn’t change the definition of voting, it changed the definition of women. The Civil Rights Act, guaranteeing equality for black people, didn’t change the definition of rights. It changed the definition of black people.

Allowing gay people to marry doesn’t change the definition of marriage. It changes the definition of gay people and our families as socially, morally, spiritually, and legally inferior to heterosexuals.


May 11th, 2012

Hear! Hear! Well said & welcome back.

Priya Lynn

May 11th, 2012

Nicely said, Timothy.

Way to go Ben.

Richard Rush

May 11th, 2012

And, as we all know, there aren’t many valid objections to same-sex marriage.

Can someone help me out here. I can’t think of any valid objections.

And, welcome back, Timothy.


Ben, excellent letter.

Ben In Oakland

May 11th, 2012

thanks,Priya and richard.


May 11th, 2012

Welcome back.

I had this same conversation with some streight friends yesterday. They aren’t bothered (anymore) by marriage equality, but it was a journey for them. Another reason it’s good to come out.


May 11th, 2012

Welcome back. I have missed your posts and this one is spot on.

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