Why I’m not overjoicing over a bone being thrown in my general direction.

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I woke up this morning to my Facebook newsfeed flooded with news about Obama. In case you live under a rock, he said:

”I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married.”

Okay, swell.

But my first reaction was not that of abject gratitude, which many of my gay friends in America seem to be having. Like that picture circulating of Obama riding a unicorn, rainbows shooting out of his bad ass gay loving hands. I guess I’m just an ungrateful second class citizen.

My reaction was, ‘It’s not enough.’ Don’t get me wrong. I get that it’s a big deal for a sitting American president to come out in favour of (gay) marriage. Fine. But they are just words.

He continued to say that he believes it needs to be an issue tackled state by state. For those keeping count, 32 states have passed laws or ammendments to their state constitutions banning gay unions or marriages. Laws have been passed saying they no longer recognise marriages from out-of-state. I have friends – lesbian headed families like our own – who literally never leave their state because all the protection for them ceases at the borders. And even within those borders, they have to carry around adoption certificates to prove they have the right to make decisions for their child.

If you are in a man-woman marriage with kids, imagine being alone with your kids while one of them falls and smashes their head in. Imagine not being allowed to make medical decisions or even see your kid. That is the reality for gay families in America.

State changes are not enough. Equality needs to be handled on a federal level – this ensures legal rights are protected across the entire country. It also means immigration is impacted….which means families like mine might actually be able to make a choice about whether they want to live in Obama land or continue to reside in their top secret, equality loving country. You know, as opposed to feeling abject terror every time they visit family in that country, because one half of the couple could be REFUSED ENTRY to America because they are married to an American same-sex partner.

Every major civil rights issue has this in common. Read up on women getting the vote, on interracial marriage. All were originally state issues. Until people realised how fucked up that was, because individual states were were millions of years away from all coming to an agreement. So the federal government stepped up – and however you feel about government involvement in ‘private’ life, I think we can all agree that women should vote, interracial couples should be able to marry, that same sex couples should be able to marry.

I only hope the federal government grows a pair and deals with this issue – and that it is an equality supporter like Obama that heads the government when that mighty day finally comes.

Have an extra six minutes? Watch this.

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6 Responses to “Why I’m not overjoicing over a bone being thrown in my general direction.”

  1. Chain Bear (@chainbear) Says:

    Agree with you completely. As a non-gay, non-American I had pretty much the exact same reaction. Gr.

    http://chainbear.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/obama-can-fuck-off.html

    Keep fighting the good fight!

  2. mendylady Says:

    No, it’s not enough. But it’s a huge step, especially for *this* President (with all that implies), and in this political climate. I mean, dude, a “moderate” Democrat of Country A these days might be more conservative than your basic conservative politico in Country B right now.

    My first response was basically “I should hope so!”

    Where he needs to grow a pair is about reproductive rights, IMO. But.. I personally am cis/pass for straight.

    I have faith we’ll get there. I have to, otherwise there’d be no point in going on.

  3. Tatiana Says:

    I think that, while it is certainly horrible that states get to decide individual rights (I don’t know if you saw the Guardian’s pie chart [http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/interactive/2012/may/08/gay-rights-united-states] comparing state-by-state gay rights in the USA), Obama’s announcement was NEEDED. I cannot imagine being a young person in the USA who is struggling with their sexual identity watching yet another state (NC) fall to institutionalized bigotry. For myself, I’m a US citizen but I don’t live there — I can’t. I can’t stand paying taxes to a government that allows degrees of hatred to be voted upon.

    Obama is one man. He is one of the most powerful, charismatic men in the world. He took a stand for equality and love on a day when it was needed.

    Do I wish he could do more? Yes. Do I wish he didn’t have to do more, that you and your wife had the same rights as myself and my husband? Yes, a thousand times.

    I can understand not feeling ‘grateful’ because words are “just words”. Through that filter, yes, Obama saying he supports gay marriage is meaningless. Anyone can say it. Anyone can believe it. Marriage is only one aspect of the huge battle that LGBTQ Americans are fighting.

    Hell, I wish all of the crazy fights the US is having over civil liberties and autonomy could be resolved with peace, compassion, and respect.

  4. Jess Collingwood Says:

    I wish I could like Tatiana’s comment. :/

  5. Anonymous Says:

    Also like Tatiana’s comment. It’s easy to always want more, but its important to realise the things take time and it’s a process. We are not changing one man’s mind (IMHO he has always supported gay marraige but he wasn’t able to say it), we are changing the nation’s mind. We need to see this as a journey, as every civil rights cause, and this is just one important and necessary step.

    • me Says:

      I agree with the bones of this, but the *flavour* seems to be ‘it’s not worth wanting more. Let’s settle.’ And that I can’t agree with.

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