Warning: I break my own rules and get political in this post. If you don’t want to read about my politics, why not visit someone else today.
I find myself wondering if perhaps I am the only gay man who wasn’t quite moved by President Obama’s recent statement of support for gay marriage. I have had two long term committed relationships. My late partner Joel and I were registered as domestic partners (it enabled us to get on each other’s health insurance at work) for many years until his death in 2004. My current partner Ron and I emphatically do not wish to marry, as it would greatly reduce our income (from Social Security disability benefits).
While as a matter of civil rights I strongly support gay marriage, for myself I frankly do not want a legal marriage. For nearly fifty years now I have been a sexual outlaw of sorts. Literally until 2003 when the Supreme Court finally invalidated all remaining US sodomy laws. And in a mythical or poetic way, I still consider myself something of an outlaw, and regard my huzband and our family as question of our choices in a creation that we ourselves make every day. I understand I think at least partially the desire so many homosexuals feel these days to be legally married and as respectable as anyone else. But that wasn’t really a choice for me growing up and at this late date, I find myself unwilling to let go of my inner outlaw and settle responsibly into the middle class.
Honestly? I found little to celebrate in Obama’s remarks. I agree with the commentators who are stating that full acceptance of gay marriage is inevitable. And certainly, that is I think as it should be. Given that younger people support gay marriage rights at a very high rate, Obama’s coming out in favor of gay marriage seems to me simply a political calculation, a way of putting a divisive social issue into play to energize his core supporters. It is true that gay and lesbian Americans have seen our rights expanded greatly during Obama’s term in office. But so often it seems as though all progress on gay issues comes in fits and starts, three steps forward then two steps back. If it serves to energize and motivate younger voters, Obama’s marriage moment may prove to have been a bit of good politics. Though I frankly wonder how much play the issue will get as the campaign continues and so many more pressing issues vie for our collective attentions.