Obama's Symbolic Marriage Flip
Obama's commitment in question - Windy City Times - 5/23/2012 - LINK
GLN permalink 5-23-2012
To the Editor:
Although it's nice to know that Barack Obama now supports marriage rights for LGBT couples, we question his sincerity and doubt he will fight hard to effect a genuine change in policy in the corridors of power in Washington.
Why should we believe him now?
Obama has been a chameleon on the marriage issue. He backed it before he opposed it and now he backs it again. In 1996, as a candidate for the Illinois state Senate, Obama "unequivocally" supported gay marriage. By the time of his U.S. Senate race in 2004, he had flipped. Now, in the race for a second term as president, he's for it again.
Furthermore, in a typical have-it-both-ways ploy under-reported by the media, Obama said that the states ought to decide marriage policy, not the federal government. Just as North Carolina, thank you, did the day before Obama's announcement when it banned marriage equality, the president would leave gay-marriage rights to the tender mercies of anti-gay hate-mongers across the nation. To his credit, U.S. Rep. James Clyburn from South Carolina disagreed with the president by asserting that marriage is a civil right that ought to be protected by federal law and not be put to popular referenda.
And speaking of federal law, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) prohibits the federal government from recognizing a same-sex marriage and reciprocity for gays married in states where it is legal. This odious act was signed into law by Democratic President Bill Clinton in 1996 after bowing to the will of a reactionary Congress and remains the law of the land despite Obama's having Democratic control of both houses of Congress for the first two years of his administration. In short, Obama never opposed DOMA when he could have done something about it and now when he says he does oppose it he's ineffective, with the House in control of the Republicans. This is how our president fights for our rights.
Finally, in April this year, President Obama had the opportunity, at no cost to himself, to sign an executive order that would have prohibited federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT employees. He refused. Rather than having purely symbolic value like his tepid support of gay marriage, this executive order would have meant real and immediate support for the material rights of LGBT people.
So don't be misled for a moment. Obama's "commitment" to LGBT rights is worth about as much as his promises to support union organizing and tax the rich.
We need to keep up the direct action pressure for LGBT marriage rights no matter who's in the White House. It's the only way to deliver the goods.
Gay Liberation Network