Only One Facebook Like
I thought there would be more fanfare in reaction to President Obama’s pro-gay marriage statement last week (on May 9, 2012). I expected something akin to the impromptu fountain party that erupted in Dupont Circle after Spain won the World Cup, or (not to be gross) something like the rally that took place overnight in front of the White House at LaFayette Park after Osama Bin Laden was killed. Some show of celebration seemed in order after the President of the United States, the Leader of the Free World, Commander in Chief of perhaps the strongest military in existence, said he’s for gay marriage. To be exact, he said: “it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married.”
One blow horn sounded and someone somewhere said hooray.
In the background, polite golf claps and whispers of “I knew it all along,” “It’s about time,” or “Big surprise!” could be heard.
Heck, I posted the announcement on my Facebook page and it only got one “like”. One. Not that my page is any representation or microcosm of queer America, but I was surprised that not much more was made of the link or the president’s statement. (An aside: isn’t the number of Facebook “likes” the way we measure agreement and approval now? Couldn’t we just give the president a list of social issues via Facebook and see which ones score “likes”?)
Perhaps the lack of a gay pride parade down Pennsylvania Avenue was a result of stolen thunder: Vice President Biden had said just a few days earlier on Meet the Press that he is comfortable with same sex couples getting married. The president’s “coming out” speech, er, interview answer seemed tepid by the time it came out, almost as if Mr. Biden’s statement and its reactions were being used to gauge how America might receive Mr. Obama’s marriage equality stance. The vice president later apologized for “getting ahead of his boss,” and for seemingly nudging Mr. Obama to make his position public. Of course, the vice president’s staff and the president himself insist that was not the case. (Biden’s apology, for some strange reason, reminds me of Harry Whittington’s apology to Dick Cheney after Cheney shot him: “My family and I are deeply sorry for all that Vice President Cheney and his family have had to go through this past week.” Add ‘after he shot me’?)
Cue Brian Williams turning his chin to his good side.
Perhaps, the luke warm reception of the president’s announcement was a result of it not being an announcement at all but rather the answer to an interview question by ABC’s Robin Roberts for Good Morning America. An interview doesn’t carry with it the same urgency as, say, a live broadcast interrupting our regularly scheduled programming, which George W. was so good at, and which might have made the president’s “evolution” revelation more momentous, certainly more dramatic. Any statement broadcast at prime time might have been better than the sleepy tone of Good Morning America. Sure, in the evenings we’re tired but some of us can deal with breaking news with a drink in hand, which in turn could have led to a happy toast. (By the way, who watches GMA or ABC News anyway?)
I nearly wrote “perhaps not much was made of Obama’s stance because several states are already granting marriage licenses for same sex couples,” but I stopped myself. Only six states and the nation’s capital currently grant marriage licenses; they are Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont, and the District of Columbia as mentioned. Washington state and Maryland have passed laws to begin granting marriage licenses to same sex couples in 2012, fingers crossed nothing gets in the way. Rhode Island announced this week that it will recognize gay marriages from other states. Still, 42 states, that’s the rest of the union for you non-math whizzes, 42 states ban gay marriage by statute or state constitution.
Thank You Notes but No Evites Yet
The work for marriage equality is not over. Sure the president’s favorable statement was a boost, especially for him (he made millions a day later at a private star-studded fundraiser in Hollywood). But was there ever really any doubt that the president that repealed Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell wouldn’t eventually come out for gay marriage? I, for one, feel he most likely made up his mind long ago, but held back because, frankly, too much gay too soon or all at once can scare off people (i.e. voters). I mean, have you seen Dance Moms Miami on Logo? Two fiery, fierce gays in scarves and skinny jeans coach pre-teens in leotards to win dance competitions at any cost, complete with tiaras, tantrums, and tears (and that’s just the gays). Sometimes I even have to turn the channel.
For whatever reason, no dancing in the streets took place in the nation’s gayborhoods after the Obama-Biden administration came out for gay marriage. The reason is most probably because we know the fight for marriage equality is bigger than any one man in office. It will take many years after Obama’s presidency, even if he wins four more years, to turn over any one of the 42 anti-gay marriage laws on the books. With that number, we can see/we concede that, more than the executive, the people really are the most powerful branch of government. What do we do next? First, we thank the president and the vice president for their continued support then we get back to work. What we really must do is start reaching out to our friends and families in neighboring states and across the country. Start talking to people in places like Arizona, California, Texas, and yes, North Carolina. Remind them how important they are toward helping their fellow Americans achieve greater equality. If it helps, promise to hold a big block party afterwards.