If you go back and look at the tape of then VP-candidate Joe Biden during the vice presidential debate, when he answered the question about same-sex marriage, you can hear in his cadence that he was following a script. Yes, he said, he and Barack Obama support equal rights for same-sex couples, but no, they did not favor redefining the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples. He tried to put as good a spin on it as he could, but it still came off as stilted and scripted, maybe just because it sounded silly.
And shortly thereafter, his words on the subject appeared on Yes on 8 mailers in California, thus memorializing his and then-candidate Senator Obama’s opposition to marriage equality for all time by people they both fundamentally disagreed with. Neither President Obama nor Vice President Biden were in favor of Proposition 8, even as they both said at the time that they did not believe in “redefining” marriage.
Herein lies the problem with nuance in matters concerning civil rights. One’s words can come back to bite one in the backside. History has demonstrated that in the cause of civil rights and equality, one cannot equivocate. One must be direct and firm, unwavering and steadfast. Only then will true progress be achieved. Because true progress requires direct leadership.
During President Obama’s historic interview, where he became the first sitting president to support marriage equality, he stated that his own daughters helped to lead him to his current thinking. He said that they have friends in school with same-sex parents, and it would never occur to them that those parents would be or should be treated differently from their own. Good one, Mr. President! He’s right, of course, as poll after poll has demonstrated. Young folks find this such a non-issue. In time, this type of natural evolution is what will bring about change in terms of marriage equality and LGBT rights in general. The old ideas will simply fade away into the dustbin of history where they belong.
Until that day, though, it is important that those who know that this is a matter of civil rights continue to say so directly, frequently, and unequivocally. Civil rights are only advanced when good folks stand up for them in the face of fear, prejudice, and opposition.
Good ones, Messrs. President & Vice President! Keep it up.
© 2012, gar. All rights reserved.