I’m working on a theory, not yet totally formulated, that goes like this:
John F. Kennedy, the first Catholic President of the United States, nibbled around the edges in dealing with the civil rights of black people. His heart I believe was always in the right place, but he needed to be pushed by the civil rights community, notably Martin Luther King Jr, culminating in the March on Washington, August 28, 1963, to really get on board.
Barack H. Obama, the first black President of the United States, has nibbled around the edges in dealing with the civil rights of gay people. His heart I believe was always in the right place, but he needs to be pushed by the civil rights community, notably ????, fulfilling the promise of his Democratic nomination acceptance speech on August 28, 2008, to really get on board.
Both as a civil rights supporter and as a data person, I was pleased that the Obama Administration is “determining the best way to ensure that gay and lesbian couples are accurately counted” in the 2010 census. “The Administration had directed the Census Bureau to explore ways to tabulate responses to the census relationship question, to produce data showing responses from married couples of the same sex.” One does not need to “believe in” same-sex marriage to want a reporting of what is actually taking place.
There have been other positives such as the extension of benefits to gay federal employees.
These do not make up for my disappointment with Obama’s foot dragging on the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy and his Justice Department’s defense of the deplorable Defense of Marriage Act. But as he reiterated to some GLBT leaders Monday, the day after the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, he says he’s working on it.
As I pondered all of this, I came across a piece by Robert Reich called, What can I do to help Obama? The crux of the issue is in the subtitle: “The public has to force him to do the right thing.” Reiterating, we need to bug him AND Congress to, as the title of the best Spike Lee movie, celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, Do the Right Thing.
As I’ve mentioned, I only recently discovered that an old friend of mine moved to Canada because same-sex unions were untenable in the U.S. and her now spouse already lived there. This bugs me tremendously. Still, since yesterday was Canada Day, props to the U.S.’s neighbors to the north.
I came across an interesting survey: Spiritual Profile of Homosexual Adults Provides Surprising Insights. “People who portray gay adults as godless, hedonistic, Christian bashers are not working with the facts…The data indicate that millions of gay people are interested in faith but not in the local church and do not appear to be focused on the traditional tools and traditions that represent the comfort zone of most churched Christians…It is interesting to see that most homosexuals, who have some history within the Christian Church, have rejected orthodox biblical teachings and principles – but, in many cases, to nearly the same degree that the heterosexual Christian population has rejected those same teachings and principles.” As someone noted, some of their margins of error are ENORMOUS. And identifying sexuality on a phone survey, when some people are terrified of answering Census questions about when they go to work, raises an eyebrow. Still, it is is an interesting repudiation of a stereotype, which is always good.
Here’s a peculiar story briefly referenced in my local paper: Could gay marriage reduce HIV/AIDS? A study by two Emory University economists suggests the answer is yes. They “calculated that a rise in tolerance from the 1970s to the 1990s reduced HIV cases by one per 100,000 people, and that laws against same-sex marriage boosted cases by 4 per 100,000.” Not sure I buy the entire premise of their study, but I accept this sentence: “Intolerance is deadly.”