Thursday, May 10, 2012

New purist meme: All credit for Obama's marriage equality stand is belong to rich white guys

by Deaniac83/The People's View

As the surprise and history-making of the President's support for same-sex marriage sets in, the president's detractors on the "Left"aren't exactly in a celebratory mood, with some taking credit for themselves, and some even rushing to equate gay marriage with marijuana legalizatoin.

But if there's one column that largely encapsulates the reaction Obama-will-never-be-good-enough crowd on the Left to the President's courageous decision yesterday to come out in favor of marriage equality, it's this one from Scott Tucker on Truthdig. His column, featured yesterday on Truthdig, calls the President's "politically cornered," electorally calculating and "one of the emptiest suits." It berates attributing courage to the president's statement as a "bemused state of mind." But here is what it's really about:
 And the White House was definitely getting the news that major gay donors would not be signing checks until he “evolved” already.
Let's cut the bullcrap for a second, shall we? Tucker's "major gay donors" are really the major gaywhite donors. Because let's face it: it's not mostly the LGBT people of color that are sitting on a pile of cash in a position to write those big checks. In other words, translation: it was us white liberals that forced this black homophobe to speak out in favor of the gays.

Never mind that the entire story that LGBT people and their supporters were majorly holding up donations to the Obama campaign because the president had not yet declared support for marriage equality was made up. Made up, in large part, by people like Tucker and websites like Truthdig. I don't know about those with the luxury to make support for marriage a litmus test - i.e. deep pocketed white gay activists who sit on their high horses in states that already provides a great deal of legal protection for gay and transgender people, but I do know this: the vast majority of the people who care about the rights and protections of our community have a great deal more to worry about.

The vast majority of us know real life issues other than marriage that affect our lives every day: from bullying in schools to hate crimes to employment discrimination to being denied the dignity to visit a sick loved one in the hospital to access to health care to housing discrimination to being able to take a leave of absence to care for a sick loved one or a sick child to having the honor of serving our country openly. For those of us who see the president's support for marriage equality not as a litmus test but as a completion of a journey in which he's always supported our community, we have taken note of policies ranging from the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act to an administrative decision to order hospitals accepting Medicare to honor the rights of same sex partners to lifting the HIV entry ban to the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell toso much more.

The discounting of all of this in favor or a litmus test on marriage from anyone who claims to care about the LGBT community, let alone be part of this community, can be described with one simple word: privilege. To go even further and claim that the withholding of donations from those who are privileged was the principal reason for the president's "evolution" is the epitome of elitism. It is a scathing belittling of not just the advancements in gay rights that have been made under President Obama but the critical problems facing the LGBT community that those advancements address. It is the refusal to understand that when a gay kid is being kicked and having his head bashed in with a baseball bat, the ringing sound in their ear as they pass out is not wedding bells. It is the utter disregard of the fact that when you want to get to the bedside of the person you love the most in this world, and when that person is suffering without the comfort of your company, the first thing you look at is not your ring finger.

This brings us to the most insidious undercurrent of much of the "Lefty" opposition to President Obama in general, and the discounting of this history-making moment in particular: the unspoken white economic privilege. Everyone with privilege is not part of the problem, of course, but way too often, and specifically in this case, it is that economic and social privilege that allows a self-described queer activist and many like him to boldly claim that the first president ever to support marriage equality and the first black president is "an empty suit." And it is that galling level of elitism that refuses to recognize that for many, the path to embracing marriage equality is a journey, sometimes as much of one as it is for a gay person to accept oneself.

The time for not-good-enough-ism is over. We are looking at a November election between a president who has the courage of his convictions and the intellect to arrive on the right side of history and a challenger who proudly pursues writing discrimination into the US Constitution. We are looking at a president who has done more for LGBT rights than anyone else ever in the federal government. You want to talk about empty suits? Anyone who gives a whiff about the rights and dignity of gay, bisexual and transgender people in this country and refuses to fully back up this president and his re-election will be the real empty suit.

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