Marriage Equality and Devolution
A State's Right to Deny Civil Rights
Marriage equality has been brought out by the Obama Administration as an issue this campaign year. Early May 2012, Vice President Joe Biden said that he felt "absolutely comfortable" with marriage equality, and was seconded by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Soonafter, President Barrack Obama said his opinions had evolved since his 2008 election, when he was against it, to the point of supporting marriage equality. However, he only "supports" it socially. Like all good politicians today, Obama managed to play a hybrid, semi-neutral role in campaigning; he deferred politics to the states, saying that states should independently work the social issue out to develop policy on the issue. This deference is pandering to every political identity, and it it’s done by politicians at the federal level all too often.
We can see how well this has worked on marriage equality so far. In the same week, North Carolina became the 30th state in the Union to pass an oddball preventative amendment banning the potential of future legislation to promote gay or lesbian people from marrying; gay and lesbian marriages are already not acknowledged by most states, making these pieces of legislation mere reiterations of pre-existing policy.
While a majority of states that are banning marriage equality (and the federal government’s tolerance of states refusing civil rights), most public polls on social opinion reflect the contrary. Even though the denial of basic civil rights and other authoritarian policies should not be tolerated anywhere, the crutch argument that socially conservative opinion among Americans supports the policy is simply not true. On May 10, 2012, a USA Today/Gallup Poll indicated that 51% of Americans supported same-sex marriage. Given this support of same-sex marriage, why is marriage equality losing?
After Proposition Eight (“Prop 8”) in California passed in November 2008, the most major legislative victory of the Right-wing’s attack on gay and lesbian people, many states began passing similar legislation to prevent same-sex couples from marrying. Democrats went into their own efforts. Some states passed marriage equality legislation, which allowed same-sex couples the basic rights that heterosexual married couples have. Other states, like Illinois, passed civil unions, which refused to acknowledge same-sex couples as being equally married, compared to heterosexual married couples; its supporters thought it would gain same-sex couples the political rights to be presented as equally legitimate before the law, business, and all non-purely cultural institutions. In organizing for civil unions, liberals may have set the bar of reform too low, because civil unions are increasingly being perceived as false equality in their few experiments. Conservatives, on the other hand, who held the policy status quo, actively and unnecessarily defended it successfully in 30 states.
Democrats also were too willing to compromise on social questions. They were willing to engage in conversations that were simply unnecessary for their political effort. Making basic political rights and liberties a matter of principle neutralizes the debate about whether or not homosexuality is immoral. Simply asking, “How does this effect you?” is more productive on most political questions.
There is nothing libertarian about allowing states to develop independent policies, like slavery, rape, a woman’s sovereignty over her body, barring all gun ownership, upholding and defending private firms’ right to compete against workers, a group of workers’ right to freely associate, or preventing same-sex couples from obtaining the same legal status as heterosexual married couples.
A majority of Americans will not be won over to the idea that the “moral fiber” of American society will be deteriorated when gay and lesbian couples obtain marriage certificates. Hardly anyone actually (fringe conservatives) believes same-sex couples will raise qualitatively inferior children. There is no viable argument against marriage equality on the basis of social implication. While Democrats are praising Obama’s “evolving” position on same-sex marriage, Obama is not even offering social progress or an argument about self-managing social liberties. Instead, he offers pandering rhetoric to the Democratic Party base during an election year, followed by devolutionist (state’s rights) politics on a civil rights issue. Even when the country is at a tipping point (51%) on marriage quality, Obama knows safe politics all too well, knowing not to alienate the religiously conservative political market.
This is how we can expect Obama and the Democrats to behave in power for another four years. In the road to the election, expect another trumping up of the Employee Free Choice Act. Expect an argument for bailouts that require the public to bear the burden, while privatizing the rewards. Expect Obama to begin “evolving” his foreign policy positions (if it happens to come up in debate) to protect privately owned American capital and invested market portfolio around the globe. The Democrats have controlled the Executive Branch for almost four years. They had control of the entire Legislative and Executive Branch in 2009-2010. They did almost nothing during this reign—a few dead end reforms mixed in with Right-wing attacks.
If the Democratic Party’s base has any shred of reason left in it at all, it should abandon its ideologically bankrupt leadership, because Obama and his cronies have no interest in the concerns of workers, LGBT people, minorities, the anti-war movements, and organized labor.
In fact, if the Republicans had raided the homes and offices of anti-war activists, the way that Obama ordered raids on peaceful activists (who support him) in Fall 2010, the entire Democratic Party would have been up in arms. The Democrats staunchly opposed the Bush Administration’s No Child Left Behind education policy, but they are silent about Obama’s Race to the Top education initiative, which is more anti-union, more test-driven, more competitive driven, and altogether, more conservative. Defending the Democratic Party merely extends delusions.
Their party is not a party of progress for anyone but the capitalist class and political pandering. They cannot be counted on to gain rights for LGBT people, workers , minorities, or anyone else. They are a big business party not based on political principle, like the Republicans, and must be abandoned by anyone seeking policy reform, altogether.