Marriage and Other Gay Rights
Michael Lavers, national news editor for the EDGE Media Network and Manchester, New Hampshire native talks about the President's views on gay marriage and takes your calls.
jgarbuz - Where you been the past 200 years??
First, the reason why people marry has totally changed. It used to be about survival, male inheritance and land production. Now its primarily about happiness.
Second, the fact that women won't NEED to be married unlike their predecessors. Women now have these things called JOBS and CAREERS that made marriage a life choice instead of an obligation.
Third, the fact that most women now earn more money than men. That was unheard of until the past decade. It changes the marriage dynamic completely.
Do I need to go on?
Jeff - thanks for the feedback. But you are still missing my point. Where else are there officially in US law, different standards for consenting adults. Do gays have to wait an extra 6 months for a drivers license? Do Blacks have to pay an extra fee for a passport? Is there an extra property tax levied on just Jews? Do women have to wait until they are 21 to vote?
To your point about marrying 12 year olds, my point would be - if the gov't says it's okay for adult men to marry 12 y.o girls, then it should be ok for adult women to do the same - marrying 12 y.o. girls. This is about equality, not just gay rights.
"Evolves" to what? Changes to what? If you want to learn what the not-too distant-future augurs, read "Brave New World" written by Aldous Huxley in the early 1930s. He was the truest prophet I've ever read. In fact it was the most influential book I ever read (back in 1958) next to the Bible.
"nostalgic feeling for that old fashioned patriarchal institution" JG - at 65 you have a right to feel as you do but things change - at 38 I'm nostalgic for typewriters and newspapers (something no one under 25 seem to buy these days)
Things change. I am a bit disappointed that you would link the sad state of marriage to "liberalism" - I am sure you know better. As I told Jeff, Gingrich and Limbaugh are on their 3rd and 4th marriages respectively - are they liberal?
SAVE MARRIAGE END DIVORCEBRING BACK THE GOOD OLD DAYS
jgarbuz - Marriage is not on the verge of extinction; Marriage is just changing. The institution of marriage will always change as society evolves.
Sheldon, of course it is about redefining marriage as you are all to willing to do to enable other forms of relationships. I am not going to defend anyone's decision to have serial marriages. Sometimes it is better for the children if the parents separate but mostly it is worse. Loose laws make it easier. In the US, I think that adultery has always been a legitimate basis for divorce. I am not arguing against that by any means. Neither am I arguing that any set of laws will result in optimal outcomes. There will never be perfection. But as you note yourself, this opens the door to things that are clearly not good for society (although you don't agree with my judgement concerning outcomes that you seem to expect). Why not marriage with 12 year-olds or younger, practices that are common in some countries?
Fuva within an historical context- yes - everyone was wimpy since Jim Crow.
However - once things hit the fan - mid 60's, RFK and LBJ, in my opinion - albeit day late and dollar short still showed more balls then than Obama did now, with respect to marriage equality.
I'm old fashioned, over 65, still have a nostalgic feeling for that old fashioned patriarchal institution, but I know its going down for the last time anyway. There is no "hallowed" institution that malcontent liberals won't eventually destroy. So be it. Alas, my fear is that the hard core patriarchal Muslims will take over in the end. They know how to deal with "liberals." The Muslim family will not go down without a very bloody fight.
The racialization of anything by the mainstream media is simply journalistic laziness. Blacks are viewed as completely monolithic by the MSM.
@Bernard from Bronx: I am a straight Black woman and also very supportive of same-sex marriage. I think the Black community's general adversion to gay marriage are these things:
1)the consistent influence of the church in the black community2)the view that gay marriage is a white male issue3)the fact that the institution of marriage has been in freefall in the black community4)the characterization of gay men as weak and unmasculine by many in our community
Why is there such a strong attempt to racialize opposition to marriage equality? Mainstream media seem to go directly to opponents who are black American when most opponents are non-black American.
Meanwhile there are several prominent black Americans who support marriage equality. In NC many black preachers were opposed to Amendment One, for example. See http://youtu.be/ywImcNViPtc
JG - if you feel that way about marriage - that it is dying, then why do you want to deny it to the one group of people who look forward to using it and keeping it alive, until they too get bored of it.
Sheldon, nah. Neither JFK, RFK nor LBJ completely and full-throatedly supported civil rights during that first term.
Well, as you probably know from many other of my posts earlier on, I believe marriage is on the verge extinction anyway, be it heterosexual OR gay. It's 50% gone already. Gay marriage will only put some of the final nails into the coffin of this dying institution. I believe the future will be "Brave New World" where children will be bred and raised by corporations or the state. That's all that Gay Marriage will accomplish, merely help to bury what's still left of it.
"Why Sir Are You a Bigot?" is a blog post I wrote the president right after he was sworn in.
Over three years later I got my answer and I wrote a thank-you note.
Thank-you President Obama
Fuva - point taken, especially with JFK. However, RFK and LBJ (coming form the south) had much more pressure to take an ambiguous stance but they didn't.
Lotta gay ignorance (and race ignorance) on these boards and in this country.
The statement is in line with the condition of the world as it is right now.
jgarbuz how many poeple have to reject this child before we let the gays have it.i guess u think its ok for ugly children to have gay parents?i m not sure i understand
jgarbuz can always be counted on to come up with the most disgusting comment imaginable - congratulations.
Sheldon -- I get your point. However, RFK, JFK AND LBJ did take "cowardly ambiguous stance(s) their first three years in power with regards to civil rights". Refer to the published history.
Really JG ? So - taking your bizarre hypothetical. Are you saying that a child being "sold" by a poor single parent to a well off rich gay couple is kind of disaster we need to head off.
The slippery slope argument does get to me though. It used to be said Gay tolerant. Currently the saying is up to LGBTQA and possibly ATM. My favorite indicator of "too far" is a person sex-changing themself then prefering homosexuality in that new gender (twice a 180 degree turn). Sorry, digressing but also reporting on things that do exist today.
Do you think Biden's "slip" and Duncan's recent comments were spontaneous, or strategically testing the waters for Obama?
The Washington Post has an article about Mitt Romney's time at a prep school. According to the article he and several other students held down a gay student and cut his hair. According to the article he was the ring leader.
The article confirms this with six of his classmates, five on the record, saying that this did happen
Biden "misstep"? What's with all the hate on the VP?
So i can clone myself..nd marry myself?
People seem to think that this is either political or principled. It's BOTH. It's principled because it's what he really believes. It's political because it motivates the base and pushes Mitt Romney to look more socially conservative. Politically, it's also another news cycle where no one is talking about the economy.
I agree that gay couples should NOT have the right to adopt children, except in certain cases where no other couples are willing to adopt those particular children. I think that opening adoptions to gays will lead to many poor people essentially "selling" their children to comparatively prosperous gay couples. I feel that would be destroying the already overstressed poor families, most of which are disintegrating as is due to lack of money.
I think Obama's endorsement of gay marriage is insincere and politically expedient. I don't think he really approves of it or believes in it and I think an analysis of his speech pattern during the announcement will indicate he is lying.
I agree with Mr. Obama on most issues and I plan to vote for him regardless of his position on gay marriage, but I believe that the issue of gay marriage should be decided by referendum. North Carolinians spoke and I believe that in any other state in which people are able to vote on the issue, it will be decided appropriately.
There is a problem with doing it by state, which is, of course, that to be married in one state and not have it recognized in another will prove awkward in the future and it will eventually reach the Supreme Court. Can we all live with this?
Gay marriage is 0 for 30 when put before the public. NBD, the same would have held for inter-racial marriage or the vote for women, in their day.
Is there a more concrete example of the 'pursuit of happiness' than being able to marry who you want to marry? Provided that they want to marry you....
It's interesting that he said "for me, personally" - what exactly are we to make of that?
Bernard - if you are what you say you are, then you should not be "dumbfounded" that black people can be as small minded and ignorant as any redneck - especially when it comes that bible their white slave masters have indoctrinated them with.
As a straight black man I am immensely proud of Mr Obama for saying the right thing on same sex marriage. I am dumbfounded that a large portion of the black population is against same sex marriage. Since marriage equality is a human right, how can people who for centuries were denied human rights be now in a position to do the same to another group of human beings?I am just proud that President Obama stands firmly in the tradition of the great American movements for social justice and that he is the first sitting president to declare same sex marriage a human right.
I think this is a pretty tepid endorsement of same-sex marriage, frankly. Obama's language seems to endorse a states' rights approach to the marriage equality issue, which seems wholly inappropriate if he's concediing that it's a civil rights problem.
Jeff - this is not about "redefining" marriage (via the state,). This is about equality within the context of two consenting adults. If polygamy, bestiality, and pedophilia ever become legal - then there should be equality there too - if a man can have six wives, so should an adult female taxpayer.
And your jibe about loose divorce laws leading to "changing" views on morality? Encouraged by the left? How many marriages is Gingrich on? His this 3rd, 4th? What about Limbaugh - oh, right he's on his 4th I think.
What you propose? People stay in bad marriages? - wow that's great for the kids. Should women have to ask the church permission for a divorce, while their cheating husband says "no"? Sometimes I wonder if the Taliban's views are that different from most Americans
Why adult human beings involved in any voluntary actions with other adult human beings need the "permission" from a third group of adult human beings in order to be involved in any voluntary actions is beyond me.
As a 56 woman, I remember when public schools were still not integrated and I couldn't invite my 'negro' friend to our pool AND as the mother of gay adult children, who did get married in NYC and who have a child of their own, I am profoundly grateful for my family and for being a part of this historical moment. It means so much more, it also sends a very positive message to the entire country and may ultimately influence those people who would bully and kick out our LGBT kids. Till now, what other president did anything for the LGBT community? As per your suggestion, Brian, that the announcement could have been grander, you know there would have been skeptics had it been done that way. What President Obama did is good. Enjoy it, and use it to keep up the important work to gain full equality for everyone!
There's little question about why obama came out for gay marriage, which is a losing strategy politically:
The South Carolina vote was a major setback for the LGBT movement, which is an important constituent in the Dem coalition. They gave obama an ultimatum, come out to support us now or else lose our support and our money.
But what is a mystery is something Brian had raised: Why did Obama gratuitously mention his children by name on this issue? He acted similarly in so many other occassions, such as the Martin-Zimmerman case.
Does Obama feel that mentioning his children provides political cover somehow? It reminds me of white people name dropping black friends of theirs, just to show they're not racially prejudiced.
President Bush NEVER uttered the names of his daughters in any political context. And rarely in personal contexts during interviews. WHY? Because Bush demanded something of the press: He demanded that the media leave his children alone and not involve them in politics. He wanted his daughters to have normal lives outside of the limelight.
Obama makes the same demands. But he wants it both ways. He wants to involve his daughters ONLY when it suits him, but not have them mentioned in the the media in ways which do not favor him----such as his hypocrisy on school choice and vouchers.
I don't think that rights are granted to couples, but rather to individuals. I may be wrong about this, but I can't think of any other examples. So the right to marry, I think applies to individuals. All individuals can "marry" if they are the proper age. Changing the definition of marriage is what is being asked for and I think that we should all be clear on this. Much has been written by both sides on this. However changing the definition to include same-sex couples certainly seems to open the door to polygamous and other forms of relationships that some people feel that they are entitled to. There are arguments that are somewhat convincing that the affects on society of these changes will not be very good. We can see the affects of loosened divorce laws, changing views of morality that have resulted in very high rates of illegitimacy (the single most important predictor of poverty in the US) and other changes encouraged by the Left.
You're right Gary - gay = male on male "sodomy" in the eyes of most people and many simply can't get past that.
As per Casey, Obama gets little credit from me, his supposed "evolving" "stance" since he has been president has been disingenuous at best and risked going down as historically disgraceful. Could you imagine RFK, JFK OR LBJ taking that cowardly ambiguous stance their first three years in power with regards to civil rights?
This sadly sums up the Obama presidency, his refusal to stand up for anything principled that is perceived as helping his "base," in order to placate people who will hate and despise him anyway.
I was expecting Obama to say this once he’s safely in his 2nd term – perhaps even he’s not sure that he will get one.
I'm a liberal and have been a supporter of President Obama since he was Senator Obama but I don't feel like this affirmation deserves all the praise it's been getting. It's less an issue affirming gay rights and one affirming CIVIL rights. Sorry, but you don't get a pat on the back from me from finally coming down off that fence because Joe Biden forced you off...again.
I support gay marriage. I don't want to live in a society that de-legitimizes any group. Even one based on sexual preferences. (Laws against ethnic, religious, and racial descrimination are more well-established).
But then I'm not married. So here is what I observe:
People who marry feel they've made an important step in their lives. The institution itself legally and financially obligates both parties. So it is not merely an emotional commitment.
So it is no surprise that a majority of married couples care a great deal about this institution, and what it represents.
And to be blunt, what they do not want it to represent is two men having sex. That may sound rediculous in the abstract. Even coarse. Yet for the majority of people, it's an abhorent vision in their minds. And they don't want to be associated with something like that, even as remotely as the name "marriage". I don't know if the enlightened elites of our society should monkey with an institution for which so many have invested so much, and for so long.
To more liberated folks (dare I say liberal?), this is retrograde thinking. Perhaps they're right. I'm not here to judge either side, since I have not direct stake in the matter.
But for the pro-gay marriage side, perhaps they should allow people to believe what they want to believe, and accept equal rights in the form of "domestic partnerships", or whatever term they wish to call it. As imperfect as it may be now, we can make "domestic partnerships" work.
"Marriage" is a term bound up in religious traditions. So not only are you dealing with the personal sexual tastes of people, but also their religious beliefs.
I'm not as certain as most liberals that forcing this issue on an unwilling public is either the best policy strategically, or perhaps fair to those who entered into the most important contract of their lives.
I would be interested in on-point rebuttals to my view.
Register for your own account so you can vote on comments, save your favorites, and more.
Please stay on topic, be civil, and be brief.
Email addresses are never displayed, but they are required to confirm
your comments. Names are displayed with all comments. We reserve the
right to edit any comments posted on this site. Please read the
Comment Guidelines before
By leaving a comment, you agree to New York Public Radio's
It's your neighborhood, your city, your country, your world, and now your website. Brian Lehrer delves into the issues and links them to real life.