So, this matters.
I’m not one for the touchy-feely aspect of politics (which, along with religion and the Great Pumpkin, make for the most dangerous subjects to discuss in polite company). But today I have to make an exception, even if it did take a long time for Obama to “evolve” to being on the right side of history.
Two of my best friends, two of the people who mean the most to me, are a gay couple. Before I grew close to them, I was of the type who rejected the whole 2004-era “gay marriage could ruin society by lesbians kidnapping your daughters and making them watch reruns of Xena”-thing out of general principle. But principle doesn’t quite rile the same way as personal attachment (which is to say, loathe as I am to use the word, love).
Now? It burns me to, for instance, read about North Carolina passing Amendment One. It kills me that so many people can choose to be on the wrong side of history. Literally. North Carolina State House Speaker Thom Tillis (R) said the following before votes were cast: “It’s a generational issue. If it passes, I think it will be repealed within 20 years.”
So…let’s make a small minority of people miserable for the next 20 years while our bigoted views are still somewhat acceptable in this part of the country? Class act, Speaker Tillis.
The President of the United States going on television the very next day to affirm his own belief that same-sex couples ought to be able to marry? That matters. It will not, of course, change any laws in and of itself; the president doesn’t get to wave a wand that will make Congress act. But it shows people who just got told that their love isn’t worth recognizing that they do have friends in high places. And it changes the dynamic of where this is at in our society. In 2004, a constitutional ban on gay marriage was a wedge issue. 8 years later, and it’s now clear that one of the major political parties will no longer be running candidates for the highest office in the land who believe in treating its gay citizens different than its straight ones.
Look across the pond, and you’ll see the conservative British Tories have already arrived at the same place as the POTUS. This is a generational shift, but now one that has reached the highest levels of government. There is no turning back.
All politicians are, in general, cowards. Our current president isn’t an exception on many issues. But on this particular one? This one is different. Good job, Obama. For today.