|Author, Political Analyst Earl Ofari Hutchinson|
To review, there is an effort underway within the Democratic Party leadership to make an official endorsement of Marriage Equality in the party platform this year. I think that would be a tactical mistake. A lot of readers, including some bloggers that I know and respect, strongly disagree. They'd rather have a strong message that their president supports them and will fight for them. I pointed out in several FaceBook debates that the end result could conceivably be electoral losses for Democrats, and several more years of waiting before we attain full equality.
I put the question to them and to you: "Which would you rather have, a strong verbal statement of support from the president, or full equality?" Given the current political climate, you can't have both.
Much was made in the mainstream press and by LGBT bloggers (including yours truly) Friday about remarks made by the Obama Campaign's North Carolina spokesman, Cameron French, who declared that the president opposed Amendment 1, the proposed anti-Marriage Equality amendment to the NC constitution. As pointed out on Towleroad, it turns out "The Big O" made no such statement, but that French was extrapolating based on the president's track record on LGBT rights. I think French is correct in his assessment, but colossally foolish to make a public statement about it without running it past the White House.
This is just one example of what Democrats do when they start feeling cocky. Pushing for a Marriage Equality plank in the party platform this year would be another example.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson, an author, political analyst and frequent contributor to the Huffington Post and Rev. Al Sharpton's radio show, weighs in on the topic with an article at Eurweb, where he explains that pandering to impatient LGBT activists and bloggers would be a big mistake for the president:
"This doesn't mean simply his backing full equality, civil rights, and civil unions for gays, or support for gays in the military, calls on UN to end discrimination against gays, making supportive speeches to gay rights groups, or strongly opposing the seemingly never ending ballot initiatives and legislative efforts to outlaw gay marriage. He’s done all of that. No, he must say the words “I support gay marriage” to fully satisfy some gay rights activists. The “some” is a crucial qualifier. Many gay rights activists understand that a GOP White House would be beyond a horror. GOP Presidential contender Mitt Romney would subtly and GOP Presidential contender Rick Santorum would openly back any and every anti-gay rights initiative measure, and piece of legislation any and everywhere in the country. But the president is different. He is clearly a friend of gay rights movement, and an African-American so therefore more, much more, is expected of him."Hutchinson goes on to explain that although a slim majority of Americans support Marriage Equality, African Americans, who turned out in record numbers in 2008, are moving forward on the issue at a much slower pace, according to Pew research polling:
"Obama is no different than many other moderate, tolerant and broad minded African-Americans on diversity issues. But he, like many others, still can draw the line on gay marriage and that’s fueled by deeply ingrained notions of family, church, and community, and the need to defend the terribly frayed and fragmented black family structure. This mix of fear, belief, and traditional family protectionism has long been a staple among many blacks and virtually every time the issue of legalizing gay marriage has been put to the ballot, or initiative, or a legal challenge, or just simply the topic of public debate there has been no shortage of black ministers and public figures willing to rush to the defense of traditional marriage."Hutchinson concludes by pointing out that the president's position should be inferred by his actions, even though he has not spoken the words publicly:
"... Obama still has gotten it mostly right on gay rights and given the grim GOP presidential alternative, and the near certainty that he’ll eventually get it right to the total satisfaction of gay activists in full support of gay marriage, to hold his refusal to utter the final words and endorse gay marriage now is worse than dumb and silly, it is politically suicidal."Let me make something clear, and this shouldn't even be necessary. In order to overturn DOMA, defeat anti-gay state constitutional initiatives and achieve any of the other goals we've set, we need a sympathetic Democratic president, House and Senate, as well as Democratic governors and state representatives. That's a tall order. While it' true that the GOP primary has shown just how far out of touch with reality the Republicans are, a Democratic victory is by no means guaranteed.
This year the Dems biggest challenge will not be whoever tumbles out of the Republican Clown Car last, but resisting their own instinctive urge to shoot themselves in the foot.