I don't have much time to respond--we are working seven days a week now at EqualityMaine to get ready for our biggest single day action, EVER, but I wanted to offer my two cents to the marriage question during the vice presidential debate, and to the notion, in general, that we need a presidential candidate who will come out and definitively say that they support marriage for same-sex couples.
Obviously I want that...a candidate who doesn't pussy foot around the topic and then stumble when they have to take a position on civil unions/marriage etc. I am confident that day will come, and my prediction is it will happen, finally, after Obama (fingers crossed) finishes his second term and a whole new slate of candidates start torturing us again in 2016.
On Thursday night, i think both Palin and Biden lied when asked about their views on equality for same-sex couples. I think Biden lied when he said he didn't support gay marriage--I feel that in my bones. There is no way Obama would stand in the way of legalizing gay marriage in the US. Remember, that would take an act of Congress, and if we ever managed to push that kind of a bill through, he would sign it in a minute. Of course, let's be honest, that isn't going to happen for a good long time, and it's likely that same-sex marriage will (and actually is) follow the same course as interracial marriage did. It will start in the states, and eventually these marriages will be recognized by the federal government. It ain't gonna happen tomorrow people...but we are on course, and actually moving much faster than anyone could have predicted. IF CA manages to defeat the amendment in November, the momentum we will see from that will be amazing.
So Obama (and Biden) are not going to say the words out loud "I support same-sex marriage" because they are still queasy about 2004 and still worried that this would cause some voters to turn to McCain. And you know what--it probably would. Which would spell disaster for our country, and let me tell you, would push LGBT issues on a federal level back into the closet for another decade.
What is more interesting to me was Palin's answer. She stumbled and mumbled and made some ridiculous statement about the diversity of her friends, and how she supports equality, yadda yadda yadda. An Outright Lie. Remember, she told Katie Couric that homosexuality is a choice. And HRC just released this video, asking queer Alaskans what *they* think of Sarah Palin. Take 5 minutes and watch it...it's unbelievable:
So why did Palin lie and why did she ease right up to that line of being "pro-equality"? Of course she slammed the door hard on the whole marriage issue, but she tried to build a case that she wasn't anti-LGBT before the slam. She lied, I think, because we as a country are changing enough in our views that a viable candidate can no longer get away with slamming queer people outright. Her answer was pretty damn close to Kerry's answer in 2004. Only in '04 Kerry was likely sincere about supporting queer people in general, and Palin was not.
The point is, (and I think I have one in here somewhere) that those who oppose all things gay are starting to be very, very careful about how they say it (people like Mike Heath excluded, of course) because it is becoming less and less of a polarizing issue for the voters. They can't get away anymore with the overt homophobia they displayed during the '92 national republican convention when they nearly hung us in effigy, and now, in 2008, they are even parsing their words carefully so as to not appear completely anti-LGBT. When you think about the 2004 presidential election, and how gay marriage was used as tactic against us by the GOP, we've come a long, long way baby.
So am I disappointed that Obama/Biden are not coming out and clearly stating they support gay marriage? In the words of Palin, you betcha. But I don't believe that makes them less of an ally to our community. With an Obama administration and the right people in Congress, we will see passage of ENDA. We will see the end of Don't Ask/Don't Tell. We will see a federal Hate Crimes bill passed. Hell, 6 or 7 years from now we may even see the federal DOMA fall. Obama will do nothing to stand in the way of that, and he will sign those bills without hesitation. My god, that is such amazing progress, and we have to recognize and acknowlege that.
It isn't perfect. And yeah, I want a candidate to say out loud that we deserve the freedom to marry legally, just like everyone else. And let's be honest, of the frontrunners during the Democratic Primary, not one of them could say that out loud. Not Obama. Not Clinton. Not Edwards. So, it seems to me we need to stop using that as the moral yardstick that measures where they stand on our issues.
My rambling two cents...