Carefully, artfully, Obama shifts to support for same-sex ‘marriage’

Perhaps some of y’all will want to discuss this. For that purpose, I give you this post.

Basically, in a fairly transparent series of steps designed to test the waters, two people in the administration stepped out and said they now support same-sex marriage. From the time they did so, it seemed highly likely that they were doing so to see if the world exploded in their faces, ahead of the president making this statement. (Excuse the mixed metaphors; I’m having a busy and harried day.)

But it was artful the way they did it. By having Joe Biden, the famous loose cannon, be the first one to step out, it was possible to disown the statement completely if there was too much of a negative reaction. There wasn’t — at least, not particularly (something that reflects the fact that most people, whether they are pro- or anti-, simply don’t care as much about this as the portion of Obama’s base that cares deeply) — and that made it safe for the next soldier to step into the minefield (sorry! sorry! there’s another metaphor). And when Arne Duncan didn’t get blown up, that made everyone go, Arne Duncan — he’s no loose cannon. And he’s Obama’s longtime basketball buddy!

The next step was for the president himself to say the words that would calm down a significant portion of his fund-raising base. And to do it early enough in the campaign that most of us will have mostly forgotten it by November, since there are so many other things we care so much more about.

The calculated nature of this move was reflected in the language used by one “LGBT advocate” quoted by the WashPost: “The conversation is, what can and should we do to quiet the uproar and to get donors back on board.”

Well, that’s done, and now the Obama campaign will be ready to move on, having brought this up and dispensed with it during the dead time in the campaign between the effective end of the GOP contest and the party conventions just before Labor Day. There was no other time that the president could have done this that would have made less of a political splash.

As I say, deftly done. If there was anything about it unartful, it was perhaps this part:

And he said he wanted to be “sensitive” to the fact that for many Americans, the word “marriage” evokes “very powerful positions, religious beliefs and so forth.”

That somewhat bemused characterization of religious traditionalists is somewhat reminiscent of his “God and guns” misstep of four years ago, making people with traditional values sound a bit like critters in the zoo or something — as something out there that one understands only with great effort. But it wasn’t nearly as bad as that earlier faux pas. And after all, how is he supposed to characterize people whose entire worldview he is rejecting?

So the thing was done about as skillfully as it could be done. If one is determined to do it.

77 thoughts on “Carefully, artfully, Obama shifts to support for same-sex ‘marriage’

  1. Phillip

    Interesting theory on the timing of all this. I can buy what you’re saying.

    I believe Obama is the first sitting President to endorse the legality of gay marriage, yes? If he’s looking to his legacy, when gay marriage is universally legal and accepted nationwide some years hence (25-30 years I’m guessing) he’ll want to have the history books record that fact.

    What’s “bemused” on Obama’s part about wanting to be sensitive to people’s religious beliefs? That interpretation of his words sounds a wee bit defensive to me.

    And is he really rejecting “an entire worldview?” After all, if “most people….simply don’t care as much about this as the portion of Obama’s base that cares deeply,” then it could only be the “entire worldview” for those whose focus is so narrow that banning gay marriage is the center of their theology. Then again, if it’s only Obama’s “base” that cares so much about this issue, how do you explain the amount of “caring” that motivates a large segment of the population to enshrine the illegality of gay marriage (or ANY civil unions, heterosexual as well) into a state Constitution? Those people must care pretty much.

  2. bud

    This is one liberal issue that I’ll just stay out of. Let’s just have a national referendum with an up or down vote on whether we think same-sex marriage should be part of our national culture and then accept the vote and move on. I’d suggest a civil union arrangement if the marriage vote goes against the gay folk.

  3. Brad

    Phillip, I don’t think Obama is looking to this to be his legacy. He’s looking to eliminate a stumbling block with his base.

    He had a specific logistical problem. I read earlier today that something like 1 in 6 of Obama’s donors felt passionately about this issue. (Or was it one in six fundRAISERS? I don’t know, because I can’t seem to find that link now. I think it’s THIS story, but for some reason — maybe excess traffic — I can’t get it to come up right now.)

    Anyway, that was presenting a problem for him in building his campaign.

    Similarly, I imagine that easily one in six of Romney’s key supporters feel very passionately on the other end of this spectrum. So it’s a problem he makes go away by saying he does NOT favor same sex “marriage.”

    But I don’t think either man wants this to be his legacy for future generations. I don’t think either of them is that narrowly defined. This is just something both of them have to deal with to keep their campaigns functioning smoothly.

  4. Lynn T

    ‘” . . . it could only be the “entire worldview” for those whose focus is so narrow that banning gay marriage is the center of their theology.” Phillip

    Actually, Brad is right, there is an “entire worldview” involved. It is one that considers everything in the Bible to be literally the word of God, intended to be enacted precisely as written (allowing for translations) forever. I don’t agree with it, and have to work hard to even marginally understand the point of view, but it is actually a worldview. Perhaps I’d find it easier to understand if proponents weren’t so often able to find wriggle room for their own circumstances (divorce, for example) that they deny to others.

    In any case, as a worldview this contrasts strongly with a perception that the Bible reflects the a 2000 year old understanding of the relationship between God and man, grounded in the specific cultural norms of a group of herders and farmers on the eastern edge of the Mediterranean, perhaps inspired by an experience of God in its deepest insights, but also shaped by the place and times in such unfortunate respects as acceptance of slavery and bias against homosexuals.

  5. Brad

    OK, I finally got that link to work. Here’s what it says:

    “One in six Obama’s 2012 campaign bundlers are gay, according to research conducted by the Post’s Dan Eggen and T.W. Farnam. Couple that fact with the news earlier this week that George Soros, one of the most prominent Democratic major donors in the country, was directing his contributions to grassroots groups rather than the super PAC expected to fund TV ads supporting Obama and it’s clear that the president badly needs a heavy investment from Hollywood and Silicon Valley. And those two communities are heavily in favor of gay marriage. (Don’t forget: Obama is headed to Hollywood tonight for a fundraiser at the house of actor George Clooney.)”

  6. Brad

    That’s a rather significant statistic. While it’s still a small minority of the universe of “bundlers,” one in six (or 16.6667 percent) is a dramatically larger proportion than the 1 to 4 percent of the population at large believed to be gay.

    By the way, while the numbers are small, the numbers of people curious about the question is apparently large. If you type “what proportion of the population is…,” Google will anticipate that the next word in your question is “gay.”

    Try it.

    I learned this awhile back one day when I was trying to determine what proportion of the population was left-handed or over 6 feet tall or blue-eyed or something totally unrelated. And it happened again just now.

  7. Brad

    Not that I put religion on the same level of importance as bowling. Y’all know me better than that. It was just the first other thing he’s not good at that popped into my head…

  8. Brad

    Just to clarify to Phillip and Lynn… I wasn’t suggesting that opposition to recognizing same-sex unions was anyone’s “entire worldview.” I was saying that “very powerful positions, religious beliefs and so forth” does seem to be describing some people’s overall worldview, of which this particular attitude would only form a small part.

    And Phillip — as I said, while I don’t think this carries nearly the dismissive tone of the “God and guns” remark of four years ago, it still suggests a certain… clinical detachment.

    As I’ve speculated ever since the Jeremiah Wright business blew up in then-candidate Obama’s face so long ago, I don’t think strong religious conviction forms a large part of Barack Obama’s identity. I think he has struggled to come to terms with the way it is experienced by many other people.

    Different people have different strengths. Obama has a lot of them, but being able to connect easily with people of strong religious feelings and attitudes is just not one of them for him. Nor is bowling.

  9. Mark Stewart

    This is the stupidest issue to ever arise.

    Abortion is real. Capital punishment is real. Slavery is real. Racism is real. Religion (and, sadly, religious intolerance) is real.

    The idea of marriage is semantics. I get – and sympathize with – the idea of marriage being between a man and a woman for family, society and faith. I also understand the desire of gay people to be treated as full equals in this country with all of the rights and all of the responsibilities that that entails.

    So could we please just have a system like in the medical profession? They have doctors who are MD’s or DO’s – but they have the same privileges. Marriage could have two labels with the same civil and, potentially religions rights, say MH and MG. This whole issue is about labels. It’s not about reality. So let’s just settle on two different labels that offer the same opportunities; not two different things that are supposed to be equal, but two labels that are in fact equal.

  10. Brad

    Yeah, Kathryn, and if this were about the “rights” of a minority — as opposed to being about what the majority chooses to CALL something — that would be a relevant comparison. But it isn’t. People have the same rights now to form and maintain relationships that they would have if all 50 states recognized same-sex unions as “marriage.”

    And Mark… are you suggesting that osteopaths are just the same as M.D.s? OK, NOW you’re going to messin’…

  11. Brad

    By the way, Chris Cilizza (it was to his stuff that I linked earlier) believes this really happened accidentally — that Biden DID go off as a loose cannon, thereby fomenting dissatisfaction with the president’s reluctance, thereby forcing Obama to deal with this the way he’s done.

    Maybe so. He follows this stuff more closely than I do.

    But if you WERE doing this as a coordinated play, having Biden — the most deniable prominent spokesman in the administration — be the first to test the waters would be the way you’d do it. Thereby making it a thing of beauty in the eyes of political professionals.

    Of course, the most artful touch of all would be getting savvy political observers to believe it really did unfold in a way you could not control, and that it was not a thing of art.

    But I admit to the possibility that the less jaded interpretation could be the correct one.

  12. `Kathryn Fenner

    It’s about the rights of a minority to marry the adult person they wish to spend the rest of their lives with–it’s not about what we call it–it’s about making apples available to everyone, not apples for some and oranges for others.

    Separate is never equal.

  13. Brad

    Anyone can form whatever relationship he or she chooses with another person at any time, and call it whatever he or she likes. This is clearly about what OTHER people will be required to call it, and how OTHER people will be required to regard it.

  14. Brad

    Whether this was an artful ploy by the president’s team or not, I hope it pays off as I predicted above. In other words, I hope this is the approach most likely to sweep this issue off the front pages (after tomorrow, of course), so we can have a presidential election about something other than Kulturkampf digressions, which generally produce a great deal of heat, but little light.

  15. Silence

    If I found out that my “doctor” was an osteopath, I’d go find a different doctor. I rank osteopathy up there with chiropracty. Maybe if they’d had a non-osteopathic residency it wouldn’t be so bad, but still.

    I don’t think the government should sanction ANY marriage, straight or gay. It’s a religious institution, so if your church wants to marry you that is just fine. If you want to enter into a binding legal contract with someone else to be “married” to them for civil purposes, that’s fine too. I have a lot of gay couples for neighbors, and they are fabulous. I wouldn’t trade them for anything, and I want them to have the same rights and privileges as the rest of us.
    I just don’t believe that the government needs to get all up into our business.

  16. Scout

    If it’s only about the name that other’s call it, then why aren’t the rights of the gay people in these relationships that they can have any old time already the same as the rights of those in heterosexual relationships? Makes me think it’s about than just what other’s call it.

  17. `Kathryn Fenner

    Yes, it is about equal treatment for all, by all. Two consenting and consentable adults can marry if they please, regardless of the respective sexes of the parties AND IT’S THE SAME AS ANY OTHER MARRIAGE LEGALLY.

    You, as a Catholic, believe your marriage is a sacrament. Protestants do not. That’s a religious distinction.

    We are talking about a legal distinction here. If you are in the ER, Miz Dubs gets the phone call and gains admittance. Why deny that to a hypothetical Mr. Dubs, just because you have the same plumbing?

  18. Tim

    My read is that it was very politically timed. He isn’t going to lose the evangelical vote (lost it already). The Catholic Vote doesn’t follow the Bishops. The Black vote won’t care that much. I am in favor of same sex marriage, but I can’t imagine that Obama, who is having his convention in Charlotte, was not keenly aware of what the vote was going to be. It wasn’t close. However, now that the Right has vented its spleen in NC, momentum would turn to the proponents to now be fired up. North Carolina is a battle lost to win a war. I would look for several major companies in the Charlotte/Research Triangle areas to announce their disappointment and possibly the inability to move more divisions to NC. Jobs. Jobs. Jobs.

  19. Phillip

    @Mark, in terms of semantics, the NC amendment is particularly troublesome because it goes beyond the question of “marriage” and rules out civil unions (whether between heterosexual or gay individuals) as a recognizable domestic partnership due the same rights as marriage. So for the designers of the NC amendment, allowing different labels that accomplish the same thing would be something they would seek to prevent or eliminate.

    @Brad, no question that timing, fundraising, political considerations, all played into the timing of Obama’s statement today. But 30 years from now or so, when the Onion’s not-really-satirical-but-rather-certain-to-happen-scenario unfolds, Obama will get the historical credit for being the first President to take that step. Nobody will remember the exact circumstances or that he was a latecomer within his own Administration to that view.

    And while it’s true that anybody can call their relationship anything right now, it’s disingenuous to pretend that there are not legal rights involved in the institution of marriage that are at stake. To say it’s about “what other people will be required to call it” is true but not the whole story. After all, it’s true that African-Americans could tell themselves that they were equal citizens in their own minds to white Americans 60 years ago; but it was indeed not until “other” people (i.e., the dominant white society) was required to acknowledge that actual equality and the granting of palpable, equal rights, were real advances made in that regard. If we just said, “oh you can call yourself equal anytime you like, just don’t force us against our religious beliefs to call you equal,” well we wouldn’t have advanced very far in our understanding of human equality and dignity for all.

    As you like to say, something that is right is right regardless of the fashions or prejudices of the time.

  20. Karen McLeod

    As far as the state is concerned, marriage is a legal contract. It can be dissolved by means of divorce. That being said, the state’s should only be involved in recognising that legal contract which is essentially a “civil union.” The church’s view of marriage is as a sacrament or solemn vow before God. It seems to me that those interested in a civil contract recognized by the state should be able to get the state to recognize that contract. Those interested in a sacrament/solemn vow should seek that in church. The churches have every right to choose who may partake of their religious rites. Thus, a JP can witness a civil union between any 2 consenting adults, thereby granting that contract legal recognition. Many people both hetero and homosexual would be content with that. Others want the religious rite. Each denomination/faith must decide whom they will allow to take these vows. But these are 2 different things and should not be confused. It’s time for us to separate these 2 very different unions. Some may want both. And some, may want the religious vow without giving a hoot about the state’s recognition (I can thing of a couple of older heterosexual couples who would choose that in a second if offered). The church has no business carrying out the state’s duties, and the state needs to keep it’s nose out of religious rites.

  21. Silence

    @ Karen – Like & Jinx.

    SC needs to pull a fast one here, and we have the opportunity. Let’s quickly recognize gay marriage and make it very easy for out-of-staters to get a marriage license for a quickie wedding.
    We could become the gay wedding destination for the southeast and make a fortune.

  22. Tim

    Agree with Karen. I think Civil Partnerships don’t even need a sexual component. I can think of many circumstances where, say, two old friends, a brother and sister, cousins, etc. would want to be able to designate the legal protections and rights we provide uniquely to spouses. Rights and protections that, by the way, are not eternal back through the mists of time. Inheritance, chief among them, but also to include adoption, insurance and life/health decisions.

  23. susanincola

    Should we also allow any number of people to engage in a civil union together? I don’t see the difference in arguments for/against between this and polygamy. Or, from a legal point of view, numerous people “marrying” for the legal/contractual rights it affords (as opposed to some sort of sexual rights, which the argument goes is none of our business).

  24. David

    “People have the same rights now to form and maintain relationships that they would have if all 50 states recognized same-sex unions as “marriage.”

    “Anyone can form whatever relationship he or she chooses with another person at any time, and call it whatever he or she likes. This is clearly about what OTHER people will be required to call it, and how OTHER people will be required to regard it.”

    And yet that is clearly not all there is to it. For someone who believes so strongly in community, you sure are downplaying the meaning of having this particular commitment recognized by such community.

    “Oh, hi Bill; who’s your friend?”
    “My husband actually”
    “Oh, well tomato, tomahto.”

    I’m starting to feel a bit embarassed that my wife and I still have those meaningless photos from that day when our relationship rights did not change at all — just the term that others use to describe us — displayed in our house.

  25. Bart

    I am in complete agreement with Karen’s comment. She hit the nail on the head.

    Back in the day when my wife and I exchanged vows in the church, prior to the wedding ceremony, when marriage certificate was issued and signed by both of us, according to the clerk, we were legally married at that moment. The only thing left was to have someone in authority to sign it, be it a preacher or judge or justice of the peace, or a notary public.

    The marriage ceremony is nothing else but a ceremony and doesn’t have any legal standing. The only thing that counts is the adherence to the law when it comes to paying the fee, obtaining the license, signing the document by the participants and legal authorities, notorizing, and registering.

    As for Obama “finally” declaring his support for same-sex marriage, it was political opportunism and nothing more. Anyone who ever for one nanosecond believed he was “conflicted” and his views were “evolving”, let me know who you are and I will send John Jenerette to your house with some prime real estate he would like to sell you. The “gaffe” by Joe Biden was timed for effect and to test the waters. Arne Duncan’s close follow-up announcement was no accident either. Both were meant to pave the way for Obama.

    Political theater at its finest.

  26. Brad

    As I say, deftly executed. Reminds me of those drills we used to do on the heavy bag when I was doing kick-boxing. One-two-one, two-one-two, the punches coordinated and so quick they’re almost on top of each other.

    Bring it up, bam, then follow up bam-bam, and it’s done and you move on.

  27. David

    More important than how supporters and voters affected President Obama’s position on the issue or what his motives are or the timing of his statement is how President Obama’s now support could sway public opinion.

  28. Bart

    “We could become the gay wedding destination for the southeast and make a fortune.”……Silence

    How quickly we forget our history. In days of yore, the mecca for couples wishing to marry quickly was located in a tourist attraction, a cheap tourist attraction, South of the Border. In conjunction with Dillon, a couple could cross the state line into SC, get a license and in less time it takes to order a burger at McDonalds, they were legally married. In fact, there were several “quickie” wedding chapels with all of the trappings available, for a price of course, for the happy couple to take advantage of.

    Think about Silence’s suggestion for a moment. All of the empty buildings that were built to house gaming machines could be turned into gay wedding chapels and they would no longer be the deteriorating eyesores they are now.

    Heck, South of the Border could become the main destination for gay couples to come to from all over the country. It could use a serious facelift and who better than the gay community. No, I am not making fun of gays, truth is truth. They do have a better sense of fashion and decorating than hetrosexuals in general.

  29. Brad

    I thought all those former video poker parlors were turned into predatory-lending shops.

    Yet another thing for South Carolina to take pride in.

  30. Silence

    It was a serious suggestion. Let’s put our financial needs before our collective “morality” for a change. You could have (campy) weddings at Myrtle Beach, upscale ones in Hilton Head, Charleston would do a booming business in them as well.

    Maybe the Midlands could attract some of those “knowledge economy” jobs from the Research Triangle area that Tim mentioned in a previous post. Imagine if an employer like the SAS Institute (Headquartered in Cary, NC) moved to Columbia. In 2011 Fortune magazine ranked SAS as #1 among its “100 Best Companies to Work For”.

  31. Doug Ross

    Tim says “The Black vote won’t care that much”…

    According to what I read, the NC vote was heavily influenced by blacks voting against recognizing same sex marriages. There appears to be a higher rate of opposition among black Americans than whites. Which is sort of ironic when you think of the civil rights aspect…

  32. `Kathryn Fenner

    @Silence–and we remember how “SC is so gay” turned out….

    You cannot contract the same rights as marriage confers in SC. A judge will review the fairness of a prenup and will also review the fairness of a divorce settlement. A judge will not review the fairness of a personal contract. The law is very clear that the State has an interest in the equities of marriage. You’d have to go a long way to establish equitable rights in a companionship agreement.

    It’s about conferring the same dignity to committed same sex couples AND the equitable rights that marriage affords opposite sex couples. What is so wrong about that?

  33. susanincola

    @Silence — Well, if we’re going to put financial considerations before “morality”, let’s really do it, not this messing around with a few wedding chapels! How about a top-dollar whorehouse and casino? Call it South of the Bordello.

  34. Tim

    I agree. No argument. I just think in November, its not going to factor much to the “black vote”, whatever that is. What will matter is jobs, and companies have a problem with these sorts of issues. I recall not too long back (help me people), when IBM(?) was considering a big move in Columbia, but a black executive was not able to eat at the Palmetto Club or something. The move didn’t happen. Shortly after, that policy disappeared forever. But, for some reason, Forest Lake Country Club,…

  35. Brad

    Here’s what happened: An IBM executive who happened to be black was transferred to Columbia. He tried to join the local business dining clubs and was rebuffed. He spoke out about it, and was heard.

    Clif LeBlanc at The Columbia Record wrote a lot about it at the time.

    In response to that, the Capital City Club was started specifically to be inclusive and to bring an end to all that. Other clubs (but not all) followed suit.

  36. Doug Ross


    I agree it won’t matter to blacks. I just think it’s interesting that its Republicans who get slammed when these anti-gay marriage votes occur when its more likely based on black and Hispanic attitudes toward gays that swings the vote.

  37. Silence

    @ Susanincola –
    I have no problem with us having The Best Little Whorehouse in South Carolina. As long as the workers (women & men) are all there willingly and nobody is being trafficked and nobody is being exploited (except for the customers.) Freedom to contract and all that. A lot of people would be in a better mood if they got a shot of leg now and again.

    I also have no problem with casino gaming, paramutual betting on sporting events, or whatnot. In fact, while I’m 100% against a state run lottery, I would fully support privately owned, well regulated casinos. Video poker is fine with me too.

    Just like “Gay” marriage, neither of these things offends my morality.

    To be honest, it’s better than being the nation’s trash dump.

  38. Tim

    Its not interesting. Its obvious. its that Republicans, of the evangelical stripe, not libertarian version, that make this issue “loud and proud”. It was the Mormon Church that primarily funded the Prop 8 fight, making it really scary to have Adam and Steve as your neighbors. The religious Republicans proudly own the issue and are by far the most visible, biggest spending block on this issue.

  39. `Kathryn Fenner

    Video poker is the crack cocaine of gambling. I think there’s a difference between legalizing marijuana and legalizing crack cocaine, just as off-track betting is not as dangerous as video poker. You can draw lines.

    Sex work is an interesting question: is it possible to give a healthy consent to it, or is it always done by people who have been damaged in the past and not healed?

  40. Brad

    Silence, what you describe sounds to me pretty much like the same thing as being the nation’s trash dump.

    And you’ll never persuade me that ANYONE doing that for a living is 100 percent “willing” and not being exploited and degraded. No matter what they say, or anyone else says.

    And Tim, as little as I want to continue discussing this, it’s a Democratic Party myth that these battles occur because Republicans want them.

    The national issue of same-sex “marriage” was initiated by those who advocate it. The right reacted to that. The people who want it keep pushing it, and the ones who don’t keep pushing back. And it goes on and on and on and on and enormous amounts of political capital that could be spent on other issues is consumed on this altar.

    In any case, it’s a total canard to say the Culture Warriors of the right started this. They didn’t. But they’re only too happy to jump in and participate…

  41. Tim

    Hmmm. Reading back…Where did I say they started it? I am saying they are the one’s sounding the horns the loudest in fighting against the proponents. If you want to fob things on me I haven’t said, that’s fine. Your blog.

  42. Tim

    Since you brought it up, I guess by your analogy, the black IBM executive also “started” that issue. How dare someone protest against a rule they find unfair, stirring up trouble. Itchin’ for a fight, I guess.

  43. Silence

    @Brad – If you didn’t like those ideas, then I’m glad I didn’t include my idea to make SC the nation’s leader in late-term abortions….

  44. Burl Burlingame

    I agree with Silence — because I’ve been quipping the exact same thing about Hawaii for a decade now. Alas, no one took me up on it.

    Gays make great visitors. They don’t have kids (most of them) and they drop lots of money and they’re interested in cultural attractions and they behave themselves. They’re pretty much ideal tourists.

  45. Brad

    Bye-bye now; I’m going to abandon this post. Once everyone starts alleging that sexual orientation equals race equals gender — when all of those situations are wildly different — I get close to losing my cool.

    Because you know, once people lay that card down, then you’re just a horrible person if you disagree.

    I have a saying that I use in conversations when people try to equate gender issues with race: “Boys and girls are different; black people and white people are not.”

    I don’t have a saying for sexual orientation. Sorry.

    Moving on now…

  46. Brad

    I’m reminded of a post I’ve been meaning to write, explaining why I have such an aversion to these Kulturkampf issues. My reasoning is so obvious to me that it doesn’t occur to me to fully explain it.

    Here’s the short version:
    (Oops. Never mind. After 600 words I was still a good distance from wrapping up, so I guess there is no “short version.” I’ll save it until I have time to turn it into a separate post…)

  47. Silence

    Right now would also be a great time to suckerpunch NC with my other fabulous idea. Quickly drop the “South” from our state’s name and immediately relegate “North” Carolina to secondary Carolina status.

  48. Brad

    And while everybody’s busy fighting over THAT, maybe I can slip in my plan to change USC’s colors from garnet and black to dark blue and white…

    Talk about another useless Culture War…

  49. `Kathryn Fenner

    Why isn’t being gay like being female or black? It’s pretty much agreed in respected scientific circles that it’s not a choice.

    and if you are so averse to culture issues, why post things like this that clearly bait such discussions?


  50. Bart

    “and, FWIW, the Church even had same-sex unions back in Medieval times”….Kathryn


    You may want to read Brent Shaw’s refutation of Boswell’s interpertation of the practice that it was in effect, a homosexual marriage blessed by the church. According to Shaw, the ceremony was to “make a brother” and to commit to true “agape” between two men.

    “The ecclesiastical rituals that bless “adelphopoiesis”, or the making of a brother, include prayers and invocations of Christian virtues, particularly agape, or the Christian concept of love. They note that conditions of peace, not conditions of hate or vituperation, should exist between the two parties.”…Brent Shaw, July 18, 1994 in The New Republic. Shaw taught at Princeton and his credentials are just as impressive as Boswell’s.

    So, it all depends on who is doing the translation from ancient Greek to modern English. If you are looking for absolution by the church and for the church to bless same-sex marriages, one can interpret the meaning of a few words to suit their own purposes.

    Interesting reading.

  51. Brad

    Kathryn, do you not agree that this was THE political story of yesterday?

    I took it as a personal challenge to write something about this landmine of a subject that all reasonable people could agree with. And I succeeded to such a degree that Phillip’s response was, “Interesting theory on the timing of all this. I can buy what you’re saying.”

    And to indulge in understatement, Phillip and I are not exactly of one mind on this issue.

    So I was VERY gratified by that. Of course, I couldn’t expect people to keep agreeing with me as other comments came in, but I thought that was a good start.

  52. `Kathryn Fenner

    Phillip bought the timing of it. Then he took issue with other things you wrote.

    Sure, it’s THE story, but it’s your blog, not the front page, virtual or otherwise, of anything. If you don’t want to discuss something, don’t bring it up.


  53. `Kathryn Fenner

    and “I can buy” is not the same as “I agree with”–especially in Phillipspeak, a language I find wonderfully comforting in my struggles at the bench. Seldom is heard a discouraging word, which is good pedagogical technique, especially for the hopelessly neurotic.

  54. Brad

    Dang it! Here I am, trying hard to feel some solidarity with other people, so maybe I can think of them as being LIKE ME, and get some warm and fuzzies going and FINALLY understand what people are on about with all that Identity Politics stuff…

    And you won’t let me. You’re all like, “Phillip doesn’t agree with you. Phillip agrees with ME. You’re not in the club…”

    Which is the story of my life.

    Of course, if I did find myself in such a club, I’d pick a fight with it…

  55. susanincola

    @Silence, I thought financial needs trump morality. So whether the prostitutes are being exploited is not important. It’s just another example of putting your morals before their finances.

  56. JoanneH

    When someone starts using the Bible to buttress an argument, you can be sure there is a hidden purpose.

    As Forrest says, “…and that’s all I have to say about that.”

  57. Phillip

    It is interesting to discuss the political implications of how the Obama team rolled this out, and I do agree very much with your take on that, and Doug’s point about the vote breakdown in NC is also very interesting (Dem and Rep turnout was virtually identical, so the margin was not an exclusive GOP thing).

    On the subject itself, by trying to draw some (admittedly imperfect) parallels with civil rights on race, those like myself who strongly believe in the right of gays to marry (with all the legal rights that implies) are simply trying to help persuade, bit by bit, folks who fundamentally believe in fairness and equality, but who may just not quite be ready to take that leap, whether it’s because it does not accord with what their religious beliefs entail, or because it seems like a distant concern, not involving any or many people that they know well. I’m presuming to think of you in that category, and really until yesterday, Obama was in the same boat for that matter. If I thought everybody who could not quite get on board with this was a “horrible person,” I wouldn’t attempt through my clumsy prose to try to explain why (in my view) the arguments for fairness and justice are so strong. Even religious views are conflicted on this, and Christian leaders differ. Just hope you keep one corner of your mind open on this one, that’s all.

  58. `Kathryn Fenner

    I didn’t say that. I said Phillip is kind and diplomatic. He didn’t exactly say he agreed with you–he said he *could* agree with you, on that one point.

    I believe I am on solid ground that I believe Phillip does not agree with you on gay marriage–his Facebook post on the subject was quite clear–but then you’d have to read other people’s Facebook posts to know that….

    but you are too different, too iconoclastic to be part of a community like Facebook, other than as a content-provider.

  59. Brad

    Phillip, believe it or not, my mind is completely open. But for an open mind to be changed, a persuasive argument has to walk through the door. And I say that with all due respect to my interlocutors.

    And Kathryn, Phillip is indeed kind and diplomatic. He is not one to demonize those with whom he disagrees. He’s not one to fling “bigot” at those with whom he disagrees, as so many do.

    Nor will he tolerate anything but just the right word from me. He chides me when I use “antiwar” or “left” in describing those who disagree with me on certain national security issues — even though I don’t mean them as pejoratives (how could “antiwar” be pejorative?), but am only reaching, imperfectly, for a shorthand way to make sure my reader knows to whom I am referring.

    But I digress.

    As social media “communities” go, I prefer Twitter. I think Facebook is a mess, and a lousy way to communicate. But I use it, minimally, because others do.

  60. Brad

    In fact, I love Twitter. I think it’s an awesome new way to communicate. Facebook feels retro and inefficient to me, probably because it is megagreedy and tries to be everything to everyone — like AOL. Remember AOL? It was your parents’ first experience with communicating via computer. You may have some older relatives who still use it.

    To me, Facebook is to this decade what AOL was to the 90s. It tries to be its users one-and-only interface with the Web, which to me is ridiculous. Clean interfaces like Google are vastly superior.

    How long it will take its fans to realize, “Hey! This is like AOL!” I don’t know. Right now, they love it.

  61. Silence

    When Facebook opened up membership to everyone, the decline was inevitable. It’s now headed towards Myspace territory, so if you are foolish enough to buy into the IPO…
    I’m not a big fan of the Twitters, either. I felt like it got way too much media hype, kind of like Second Life, which, despite my being tech savvy, I didn’t actually know anyone who used it. I do know a few folks who tweet, but I just don’t see it living up to the hype.
    Blogging – wordpress, blogspot and the like seem to me to be more important in the long run.
    I feel like Google isn’t all it’s cracked up to be either. That’s why I use Bing.

  62. Tim

    Let’s face it, you don’t want the kids either ‘Binging’ or ‘Googling’, alone,… in their rooms.

  63. Silence

    @Tim – I will have to get the internets turned off when my daughter gets old enough to Bing/Google.

  64. bud

    I’ve noticed fewer and fewer new posts on Facebook lately. Seems like the novelty is indeed wearing off.

  65. Barry

    i see no reason- using the gay marriage argument as a basis- why the law discriminates between consenting adults wanting to marry each other.

    The law refusing to recognize 2-4,15 people wanting to marry each other is clearly discriminatory

    Hopeflly the gay community will get it together and start fighting (and not discriminating) for true equality for all consenting adults to marry whoever-whenever- they want.

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