I have been watching President Obama's dance about gay marriage. His adroit pirouette, punctuated by bows to the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender community and dips and flourishes to the anti-gay marriage groups, has been disingenuously described by his many fans, in the media and elsewhere, as an evolution in progress. The electorate is given to understand that President Obama is a traditionalist who has to shake himself out of his staunch belief that a marriage is between a man and a woman. Surely President Obama was not born with this notion. So where did he acquire it?
The president's mother was not a traditionalist, and from all accounts she was a big influence in his life. She lived and worked in Indonesia for the Peace Corps. She married twice, once an African and the second time an Indonesian. I can't imagine she was the progenitor of the president's view that marriage is for straight people only and should be taboo for gays.
The President studied at Occidental College, a top tier liberal arts institution, at Columbia University, a liberal as they come place, and at Harvard Law School, which is not a bastion of conservative thought. He surely met gay students at these places and probably even had opportunities to befriend and socialize with them. He was elected president of the prestigious Harvard Law Review and never once does he seem to have written an article or expressed a thought that articulated marriage as being exclusivity for straight people during those early years.
He attended Rev. Jeremiah Wright's church for ages and witnessed the reverend's impassioned sermons pertaining to Black Liberation Theology. The reverend's position on gay marriage is rather ambivalent. He condemns homophobia but at the same time disparages a push for gay marriage, citing that more immediate issues like poverty should be foremost in the consciousness of the black community. The reverend has not preached emphatically against gay marriage, though. Hence President Obama could not have imbibed his one man-one woman marriage stance from the reverend.
One could postulate that the Bible molded the president's views, and since he places a lot of premium on his Christian faith, he is opposed to gay marriage. But the president has not shown himself to be a man prone to literal interpretations of the written word; exactly the opposite, he is praised by his supporters as a nuanced and thoughtful man who is sensitive to subtle shades of meaning. Therefore he could not possibly fall back on a literal interpretation of Biblical verses to support his opposition to gay marriage.
I conclude, the president's anti-gay marriage stance exemplifies his "dancing on the fence," politically savvy nature on contentious issues. I doubt that he has any committed view on gay marriage. He probably thinks it's fine and dandy, that for now, he is placating the religious among his supporters by saying marriage is a one man-one woman affair, while giving the impression to the LGBT community he is a work in progress, eventually destined to give up his opposition to gay marriage by crossing some intangible milestone, to a higher plane of wisdom.
Liberals are patient with this subterfuge clearly because they realize they have no better alternative but to be satisfied with the crumbs he hands them. The president's health care law, described as a triumph by his protagonists, is no more than a mandated, expensive juggernaut and a colossal giveaway to private health insurers. From health care to banks, from the auto industry to the oil industry the president has accommodated the princely thieves of America, all the while claiming he is for the middle class and the small man. As for cleaning special interests from the corridors of Washington, he hasn't tried because he will be collecting fat purses from them himself for 2012. It's a pity our democracy is so stultifying that the president will coast on many issues, including our dismal economy, to become the Democratic Party's unchallenged nominee.
Usha Nellore, Bel Air,