Regardless of what some of the pundits are saying, President Obama's statement yesterday was audacious. He didn't have to do it: many leaders in the gay and lesbian community say their troops were planning to vote for him anyway. And yes, it looks like his hand was forced by Vice President Biden's televised support for same sex marriage last Sunday.
Nonetheless, as Mike Bloomberg has opined, this is a big deal. No civil rights activity endorsed by a sitting US President has failed to eventually become law.
What I've been thinking about is the conversation around gay-ness, the kinds of assumptions so many people have about homosexuality being a not-right, not normal, ultimately weird thing. We've all heard kids call each other out for behavior or dress saying, "that's so gay!" and meaning it in a derogatory way. The fact that in only a handful of states same-sex marriages are legal has seemed to support--in some people's minds--the view that homosexuality is something to be avoided and the sense that it's a sad day for a family when a son or daughter comes out of the closet to siblings and parents.
Is it possible that the groundswell of acceptance--especially among young people--will change the conversation on the topic? Well, not in North Carolina, that is true. But then, as some may not have realized, that state's new legislation also bars straight unmarried couples from rights usually afforded them as well. As Jon Stewart says, "I guess that's North Carolina's version of equality. If you can't have it, neither can we..."Seriously, I'm hoping that the jokes, the innuendos, the "That's so gay!" comments will become things of the past. The conversation will change. Once our country acknowledges that basic human rights should be afforded to all citizens, and that includes the right to marry whomever you choose, there will be less punch to such jokes and comments.
Except maybe in North Carolina.