Holding a Losing Hand

The headlines today concerning the Republican politicians’ response to President Obama’s endorsement of marriage equality either refer to a tepid, tiptoe response or make note of the general lack of response altogether.

While a few foolhardy mouthpieces tried to frame Obama’s statements as some kind of a flip-flop on gay issues, most GOP politicians were uncharacteristically quiet or guarded about their response.  (The usual suspects in the “religious” right wasted no time in mouthing off, but that’s par for the course.)

I’m sure there are a number of theories circulating as to why this has happened.  But my guess is that the Republican politicians are relatively certain that they cannot win by focusing on this issue.  I suspect that many of the Republicans have LGBT staffers, know LGBT people, perhaps even have gay family member (except for the occasional member of Congress who boasts overconfidently that they don’t).  I’d like to believe that there is sufficient conscience remaining in at least some of the GOP not to continue the tradition of claiming that their personal beliefs are one thing and their policy decisions are completely detached from those personal beliefs.  That “some-of-my-best-friends-are-gay” line will not work in this day and age.

The only outcome for Republicans if they raise a stink about this issue is that they will make themselves look even more extreme than they already have.  There may still be some Republicans who have a concern for their respective political legacy.  As many others have said, they’re clearly on the wrong side of history.

Pundits today have been talking about the risk that Obama took today, and there may indeed be some.  But the Republicans need to attract moderate voters in the upcoming election, as well; the risk may be even greater for them than for the President.  They’ve already done their best to drive away women, Latinos, and the LGBT community.  If they veer much farther to the right, they may go over a cliff.

Read more on Politico about the GOP’s silence:

Afterglow Reality Check

The LGBT community and progressives are understandably celebrating yesterday’s interview with Barack Obama in which he announced his support for marriage equality.  He did so with considerable political risk, because he knew that, in addition to galvanizing support among LGBT folks, he would also galvanize his opposition among the uber-conservatives.

With his announcement, everything change and nothing changed.

Everything changed, because for the first time, an American president has publicly stated his full support for true equal rights.

Nothing changed, because in practical terms, the needle hasn’t moved one bit between May 8th (the day before he made the announcement) to May 10th (the day after he made the announcement).

There are still monumental hurdles to be overcome before LGBT people enjoy the same rights and freedoms that the rest of Americans enjoy.

How and when that parity is to be achieved is still to be determined.  If it’s via the legislature, there’s truly a steep uphill climb to convince many of our less-than-forward-thinking Senators and Representatives to move away from the dark side.  If it’s via the courts, there are likely years of court battles and challenges ahead.

But we can take a moment to feel pride and relief that this president has chosen to be on the right side of history.