In the past month, almost half of all Democratic senators, several of Obama's national campaign co-chairs, the House Minority Leader and the chairman of the Democratic convention, among others, have said they support adding marriage equality to the platform. Were this the position that the president held, such proclamations would not be a problem. But Obama says he is still publicly “evolving” on marriage equality. And the wave of support to make it a component of his convention has both surprised aides and set off a private push to keep emotions and expectations in check.First, I want to say that I am overwhelmed that so many Democrats have finally jumped on the equality train. Better late than never, weekend liberals!
It was just two and a half years ago that we joined half a million of our LGBT brothers and sisters marching through the streets of the nation's capital demanding that the president and the Democrats stop paying lip service and start following through on their promises. Obama was still finding way around the White House. HRC president Joe Solmonese was the darling of the Capital Hill cocktail party set and just last year Obama revealed that his views on Marriage Equality were "evolving".
Here we are facing the end of the Big O's first term and DADT has been repealed, eight states and DC now have equal marriage. The administration announced last year that it believes DOMA is unconstitutional and will no longer defend it in court.
Same-sex partners can now be designated as next of kin in all hospitals receiving federal funds, which is virtually all of them. The Matthew Sheppard Hate Crimes Act was passed and new HUD rules protect LGBT Americans from housing discrimination. (For a more complete list of the president's LGBT accomplishments, check out this article from The New Civil Rights Movement.)
With and majority of Americans now favoring marriage equality and the GOP clown car and its all-consuming vintage 1965 social agenda virtually assuring Obama a second term, over-confidant advocates are now gearing up to do what Democrats have always done best... snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
We are at a very precarious position now. We may have hit a turning point in the fight for our rights, but the culture wars are being fought more fiercely than ever. One false move and we plummet into the depths of a latter day Dark Ages, the likes of which has never been seen in this country. Republican voters find themselves in the difficult position of choosing between the lesser of the evils at the top of the ticket. Polling shows that voter turnout in the Republican primaries is at record lows of about 3 to 4%. The only people actually bothering to show up are extreme social conservatives and the elderly.
Republicans know they can't win on the issues, so they lie and deny that the economy is improving and ignore the over 3 million new jobs that have been created under this president. They lie about a thriving auto industry that all but collapsed under Bush's policies. They disown their own policies which led to this mess in the first place as a result of the eight years that they gave W everything he wanted.
The one word that best describes Barack Obama is "pragmatic". He's not about the blow the election by moving too quickly to endorse gay marriage during an election year. It's just a fact we're going to have to live with. Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villgairosa, the 2012 Chairman of the Democratic National Convention, has been one of the most vocal proponents of a Marriage Equality plank in the party platform.
During a wide-ranging interview, POLITICO’s Mike Allen at one point asked the recently selected chairman, “Do you think that the Democratic national platform should have a marriage equality plank?”
“I do, I think it’s basic to who we are,” Villaraigosa said. “I believe in family values and I believe that we all ought to be about.Villagairosa's words obviously caught the Obama administration off guard, because within hours he had softened his tone when asked by the Sacramento Bee about the party platform, saying, “It is up to the delegates of the Democratic Party to draft the Democratic Party platform. Our delegates will put the platform together and I suspect it will be very inclusive.”
For democrats, the Republican primary is the gift that keeps on giving. Barring any unforeseen catastrophe, President Obama will handily defeat any one of the GOP candidates. All he has to do is let them speak. Do we really want to force him into a corner on marriage equality in the lead up to the general election? Do we really want to be the reason he loses?
We suffered through eight years of setbacks under Bush and any one of the Republicans candidates would be infinitely worse in the Oval Office, not just for LGBT's, but for women, Hispanics, seniors, the economy and for our reputation around the world.
In the immortal words of RuPaul, "Don't fuck it up!"