When an MTV viewer wanted to know what Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama thought of Proposition 8, a state constitutional amendment on the 2008 California general-election ballot that would eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry, MTV News brought the question straight to the man himself.
"I think it's unnecessary," Obama told Sway, in response to a question sent in by Gangstagigz from San Leandro, California. "I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. I am not in favor of gay marriage. But when you start playing around with constitutions, just to prohibit somebody who cares about another person, it just seems to me that's not what America's about. Usually, our constitutions expand liberties, they don't contract them."
Wow. The tea dregs that have been sitting in the bottom of my cup for the past hour are less tepid than that. California Proposition 8 is going to come down the wire, and Arizona and Florida have their own rights-abridging amendments on the ballot, and Obama's statement that such things are... reprehensible? mean-spirited? un-American? Oh, "unnecessary," followed up by two disavowals of marriage equality in quick succession, packs all the wallop of a wet Twinkie. If anything, he just assuaged the consciences of people who will probably vote for him but can't quite overcome the ick factor and want to vote for constitutional discrimination at the same time.
He's not in favor of gay marriage. A hell of a lot of people in this country, even now, 41 years after Loving v. Virginia, are not in favor of the marriage his own parents however briefly entered. His own marriage would have been prohibited under the laws enacted by people who were "not in favor" of interracial unions. But the product and beneficiary of the last generation's fight for marriage equality, who grew up to be a fucking Constitutional scholar, sat there and unhesitatingly piled onto the very same line of thinking that technically kept his parents' marriage and his own marriage illegal in the state of Alabama until just eight years ago, and advocated separate-but-equal status for me.
Almost as maddening as having my entire existence reduced to a sex act is having my desire for equal legal standing for my relationship reduced to the issue of hospital visitation and property inheritance. Yes, those are two very nice things to have. However, that still leaves roughly 1,037 other rights that are federally extended to straight couples missing from my portfolio. Of course politicians who want to weasel out of fully supporting Teh Gay kowtow to ICU visitation. Because as long as they "fight" for our right to bring flowers to each other, they can pat themselves on the back and forget about all the rest.
After Inauguration Day we'll find out who he has actually been pandering to here--the "Christians" who can't stomach the thought of my relationship having the same legal standing as their own, or the gays who have grudgingly accepted hearing their relationships devalued time and again as a political tactic just to get their guy into the White House, because, you know, it works every time.
I would simply like to hear Barack Obama say that my marriage is equivalent to his own, and that all Americans are equally endowed with rights. I do not want to think about how long I will be waiting.