Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Gaze Militant

Here's an interesting exchange. It's fun and easy to laugh at Romney's discomfiture here, but one thing jumped out at me: if this Vietnam veteran is going to make same-sex marriage the deciding issue when he votes, he won't be able to vote for Barack Obama either. Obama has always made his opposition to same-sex marriage clear and unmistakable, except for those who absolutely insist on deluding themselves.

“I’m a Christian,” Mr. Obama said on a radio program in his 2004 race for Senate. “And so, although I try not to have my religious beliefs dominate or determine my political views on this issue, I do believe that tradition, and my religious beliefs say that marriage is something sanctified between a man and a woman.”
Luckily, his religious beliefs apparently don't say anything about homosexuals serving in the military, though even on that matter, despite his promises, he did nothing for two years. It took him just about as long to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act against legal challenges. If I had a magic wand, I'd wave it to let Bob Garon, the veteran who challenged Romney, sit down to breakfast with President Obama and ask him the same questions.

At the same time, I wouldn't mind putting some questions to Mr. Garon. The U.S. Constitution doesn't say anything about marriage, so it's not correct to say that denying him marriage denies him his Constitutional rights. (According to the Queerty article from which I learned his name, he's married to another man under Vermont law. Even without DOMA, other states aren't required to recognize that marriage. That's likely to be contested for some time, even if DOMA is repealed.) I do get tired of people talking about marriage "rights," when what marriage confers is privileges and benefits, and why should married people get special privileges and benefits? One negative side effect of the push for same-sex marriage is that it has devalued other relationships, such as domestic partnerships, that extended recognition to nonmarital relationships. If the Family and Medical Leave Act were passed today, would it extend its benefits to people who aren't related by marriage or "blood"? I doubt it. The more I watch the debates over marriage, the more I agree with Nancy Polikoff that it is families that need support and recognition, whether they involve marriage or not.

Having said that, I must add that I enjoyed watching Bob Garon make Romney uncomfortable. As one commenter at Queerty pointed out, Romney could hardly have expected, when he sat down with those two old men that morning, that they would not only be gay but let him know it, and that one of them would challenge him on gay marriage. Things have certainly changed since I was a boy, but then, Bob Garon is only a few years older than I am. Those of us old gay militants who are still around have not become less militant. But I'd still like to see him confront Barack Obama.