Obama, Marriage Equality and the Political Ploy of Liberation

It is a political ploy.

Of that, I’m fairly convinced.

President Barack Obama became the first president to endorse marriage equality Wednesday. But, of course, it wasn’t the first time Obama has endorsed marriage equality. About 15 years ago, Obama described his position this way:   “I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages.”

In the intervening years, he changed his tune, hewing toward a more conservative position the closer he got to the presidency. As the years of his first-term ticked off, he worked for LGBT equality in ways other than the Holy Grail of same-sex marriage, including extending benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees and repealing DADT. He began to say that his position was evolving. In reality, it was regressing to his original position.

So, as the election season ramps up, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to understand Obama’s support for marriage equality as a political ploy, a strategic decision meant to energize both his voting and financial base. There will no doubt be people to cast his support as equivocation, pandering and shameless.

Go ahead and let them, because we know the truth of it.

Yes, it’s a political ploy. There’s no shame in admitting it either.

Because no matter how politically motivated his endorsement of marriage equality may be, Obama still did what no other president has done, what very few politicians have done.

He endorsed marriage equality without equivocation.

Don’t let the political timing of his announcement limit the recognition that this is a profound moment of justice and liberation coming not from activists but from the highest office in our country.

For once, the voice of liberation is the voice of the President.

About David R. Henson

David Henson received his Master of Arts from Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, after receiving a Lilly Grant for religious education for journalists. He ordained in the Episcopal Church as a priest. He is a father of two young sons and the husband of a medical school student.

  • Jeffreyconn

    nice!

  • mayme

    When did Christians become so political and why? Interesting comments but way off the mark of Christianity. Here is a great documentary about Christ and finally something that makes sense of his life.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/davidhenson David R. Henson

      Christians differ on how political Jesus was, with all sides making good arguments to that effect.

  • Brenda

    It does not matter what President Obama or anyone else has to say about same sex marriage. The word of God has already spoken and it can not and will not be changed. God is against homosexuality and what man allows or supports will not change that. We should love all people regardless of what or who they are, however, we must love, honor, respect and obey the word of God more.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/davidhenson David R. Henson

      No, God does not stand against LGBT relationships. And neither do the Scriptures.

      • Mike Edwards

        I imagine you are familiar with Paul’s letter to the Romans, esp Chapter 1, verses 17-32. King James or New Jerusalem. The message certainly seems to contradict your assertion. Here is one link: http://www.catholic.org/bible/book.php?id=52

        Would you comment on this. It seems that you changed your mind based on a realization that homosexuals are often sincere, honest, loving people…and that we should not judge them. Given…. But how do you justify ignoring these scriptures?

        In the end, of course, each individual must account to God directly; but God is God–and whatever any of us may argue, that doesn’t change..

      • Maymet

        I don’t recognize Paul as a spokes person. Number one, he never knew Jesus! His letters are NOT the word of Christ nor are they the word of God! Only what Jesus said, is of any importance, not what Paul said.

      • http://patheos.com/blogs/davidhenson David R. Henson

        Your second paragraph begs the question and offers inaccurate assumptions based on your own blind spots. First, you assume that I ignore the Scriptures, when in fact, in my initial comment I reference the Scriptures. Your characterization on my “realization” is, of course, off-base as well, meant to disregard what I have to say based on “emotion.” Then you offer a thinly veiled judgment from God through your own mouth and beliefs.

        I frankly don’t appreciate such disingenuous attempts at conversation If you would like to have a discussion, I’m more than happy, but please check your level of discourse.

    • Sagrav

      What about those of us who don’t even believe in your god (or anyone else’s for that matter)? Why should our friends and family be subject to your religious dogma?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=41800172 Kayla Rike

    David, you know my viewpoint. What two people, or more than two people (yes, I went there ) choose to define as marriage, is their business. It’s a personal, spiritual, religious act… IMO, it’s not for the government to define or get involved with at all, but as our political system is currently set up, I understand the need for the fight of equal rights. But ultimately, ideally, there would be a reform in regard to what’s required to receive benefits and take care of whomever you claim to be your family. A marriage license is simply a piece of paper from which the government receives revenue. A relationship of any kind should not be based on that.

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