Executive Opinions are Nice, and Executive Orders are Nicer
President Obama’s views on marriage equality have now evolved, thanks in part to the example set for him by his daughters and their classmates. You’ve got to love an adult who is unafraid to learn from children.
Then there’s Mitt Romney, who laughed earlier this week when reminded of his bullying ways in high school, and who did not stand up for his own foreign policy spokesperson, Richard Grenell, when pressure mounted against Grenell for being gay and Romney for hiring him. Oh, and he’s not just against gays and lesbians getting married, but doesn’t want them to adopt children either. Oh, and a senior Romney aide reacted with glee (so to speak) in outing a transgendered member of the Massachusetts House.
Growing vs. caving . . . not a hard choice for me, but apparently it is for some. Maybe Mitt should hang out at Malia and Sasha’s school for a while. But I digress . . .
Obama’s come a long way from the 2008 campaign, where he courted gays on the one hand and took the stage with (and praised) homophobic Donnie McClurkin on the other. But as far as he’s come, he’s still got a long way to go.
I wonder how LGBTs and their allies in North Carolina felt when Obama offered his executive opinion in favor of marriage equality, the day *after* Amendment One was passed. North Carolina is a state Obama won in 2008, so it’s not like he doesn’t have any friends and supporters there. I can’t help but think that if Obama had made his opinion known before last Tuesday rather than after, it might have helped energize the forces of equality.
Actually, thanks to Pam, I don’t wonder too much.
It reminds me a great deal of the reaction the day after the 2008 elections, when progressives across the country were celebrating Obama’s victory. In California, though, the celebration was muted because of the victory of Prop 8 — a campaign where the anti-gay forces successfully used Obama’s words in robocalls as a way of reaching out to Obama supporters to vote for the discriminatory Prop 8. As Ian Welch wrote back then,
I’m glad Obama was elected, but four states just turned gays into official second class citizens. And Obama, with his ambivalence towards gay marriage, was at the heart of it. As late as yesterday robocalls going out from the bigots claimed, accurately, that Obama opposed gay marriage and suggested that voters should join Obama supporters in rejecting gay marriage in California. Given how close it was, this probably was the margin of victory.
I’m glad Obama has evolved in his opinions on marriage equality, but opinions are not enough.
As various commentators have noted, as momentous as this presidential opinion is, it changes absolutely nothing for the people the president referred to in his remarks. Given the demographics of the school where Malia and Sasha attend, it’s a pretty good bet that some of those parents are government contractors. It sure would be nice if there was not just an executive opinion saying “these folks deserve equality” but an executive order protecting LGBTs from discrimination in the federal workplace.
You know, the workplace that President Obama presides over.
photo h/t to Pete Souza, official White House photographer. Note, please, that the use of this photo does not in any way suggest approval or endorsement of this post by the President, the First Family, or the White House.
But it sure would be nice if they did endorse it. You know, with a signature on an executive order.