THURSDAY, 10 MAY 2012

Obama’s unsurprising marriage epiphany

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It may have erupted in the Twitterverse and on MSM sites, but the only possible surprise element may have been the timing. Maybe.

Because President Obama’s was among the most expected and awaited coming out moments in the nation. Which makes you wonder, what was outed, per se?

So President Obama has come out in favor of same-sex marriage. Now what?

His announcement Wednesday provoked an outpouring of appreciation from the gay community, but it also raised questions about whether and how it would translate into actions. Having made history as the first sitting president to support gay unions, he could leave it at that, turning his attention back to the economic concerns that remain the top priority for American voters.

(Note that sentiment. It’s important.)

But his endorsement has increased hopes among gay rights groups that Obama will take a more forceful stand on gay rights as well as gay marriage, which remains a divisive and emotional subject that could complicate his reelection efforts.

“This is the most LGBT-friendly administration in history, and the things the White House has done and the administrative agencies have done on behalf of [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] people are tremendous,” said Rachel B. Tiven, executive director of Immigration Equality, which advocates for same-sex couples in the immigration system. “And yet, everybody wants full equality, not half equality.”

So this is where I have a question or thought or two. Because everything else involving Vice President Joe Biden setting the stage for this announcement, and the president’s admission which was not exactly breaking news, has received saturation coverage already. Especially as it relates to political strategy, which seems to be the driving force of this evolution.

Especially considering that it came the day after the North Carolina election in which voters again upheld the historical legal definition of marriage as between one man and one woman.

But that’s part of my observation about this issue and very public debate. The language used to debate it.

In almost everything I heard on this issue, it was framed by media as opposition to a good, a right. And who is opposed to it (North Carolina voters being the latest) and who favors the right, such as it is claimed (the vice-president and president  being the latest). One network news commentator declared it as the civil rights issue of our time. Or at least the one I heard, while tuned in.

None of us wants to be on the wrong side of any human rights issue. Which is why it’s so strategic to make this a human rights issue. No wonder the poll numbers are changing, trending towards acceptance or approval of “same sex marriage.” By word control the merchants of ideas and politics are attempting thought control, and it works by casting a whole segment of the population as “opponents” of a “right.” When in fact what we’re talking about is the redefinition of marriage. Which changes the linguisitic calculus.

So let’s do a thought experiment: Instead of being intolerant opponents of same-sex marriage (a negative), majority voters in 32 states now (all the states where it was put to a vote) are actually proponents of the traditional definition of marriage (a positive), and opponents of that tradition are intolerant of anyone who disagrees with their views of legal recognition of marriage. Which members of the Catholic church hold as a sacrament besides a law.

Almost nobody is talking about the rights of children in this battle. Almost. But these folks are.

William B. May, founder and chairman of the San Francisco-based group that promotes Catholic social teaching on society’s common interest….[says]

“Underlying the proposal to redefine marriage, is an assumption that marriage is merely the committed relationship between two loving people…And a lot of us think of marriage in terms of the adult perspective, and the benefit for adults.”

“That’s a private interest – and that’s not what marriage really is.”

“Marriage is more than that. It’s a communion of persons. And when we look at it from the perspective of the child, it’s the heart’s desire of every person – without exception – to be united with, and to know, the man and woman that they came from. That’s part of who we are.”

“What’s happening now, with the redefinition of marriage in the minds of people, is that more and more children are becoming deprived of that experience – which is a human right – to be born into, and raised in, a family with a mother and a father united in marriage.”

Society and culture, May explained, have perennially defined marriage in this manner for the sake of binding men and women to fulfill this duty to their children.

Thus, any redefinition weakens the unique cultural and legal standing of the only institution that secures the integral bond between children and parents.

“The harm is this,” he said. “By redefining marriage as merely the public recognition of a relationship between adults, we essentially ban the promotion of marriage as the only institution that unites a man and a woman with each other and any children born from their union.”

“It creates a conflict with the human rights of the child, to know and be cared for by their mother and father in the union of a marriage.”

May said this conflict would represent a clash between the public interest of all children – in the recognition and promotion of the type of union in which they have a right to be raised – and the private interest of homosexuals involving an essentially different type of relationship.

“To promote the unique value of the union of a man and a woman would then be legally ‘discriminatory’ against homosexuals – because it would be making a statement that one type of relationship has greater value. And it would not be permitted, if marriage is redefined as merely a committed relationship between adults.”

Not only the state, but “every institution in society,” May indicated, would then be “bound under the law” to ignore the most compelling public purpose for marriage, as a safeguard for children’s rights.

As for other ’interest groups’ (since this is a political calculus), Elizabeth Scalia does an interesting roundup here.

My first thought was: what does this mean for the black churches? Back in 2008 it was the black Christian vote that defeated gay marriage in California. African Americans voted for Obama, but while they were there, they voted against gay marriage. It’s one of those stories no one wanted to talk about. Now, things become interesting: do African American churches, hearing the president say that “my Christian beliefs” inform this newly declared viewpoint, simply give up their own beliefs to support his or do they stand for their own? And then, who’s Christian beliefs are right? That’s a whole ball of wax I bet no one wanted to deal with in this election.

But there it is. Forcing the issue to the public arena of ideas and debate. So let it be about that, beliefs and worldviews on economic and foreign and domestic issues, and public policy on social moral issues as well as fiscal issues.

And let it be fair and honest.


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Sheila Reports promises a perspective here that you may not be getting in mainstream media and the politically charged blogosphere. Don’t expect political correctness, because politics doesn’t determine what’s correct. This space is grounded in the natural law and moral order. And it expects civility, goodwill and an openness to truth and reason.


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