Writer-activist Dustin Lance Black says it’s time for President Obama to step up on same-sex marriage
President Barack Obama has done more for LGBT equality than any of his predecessors but he continues to stop short of endorsing same-sex marriage.
Oscar-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black thinks it’s time for Obama to get off the fence and explains why in a well-researched piece for The Daily Beast. Here is a portion of it:
The president told supporters that he believes gay and lesbian couples should have the same rights as every other couple in America; I’m glad to see his continued “evolution” on the issue. But he also told the group that marriage “traditionally has been decided by the states.” Not only does this tell me that his evolution is not complete, it feels like the president has taken one step forward and three steps back.
It was only three years ago in Philadelphia when then-Senator Obama gave a major speech on race in America, and talked about “a Constitution that had at its very core the idea of equal citizenship under the law; a Constitution that promised its people liberty and justice and a union that should be perfected over time.”
He spoke that day of the “protests and struggles, on the streets and in the courts” that would eventually “narrow the gap between the promise of our ideals and the reality of their time.”
But Thursday, he made the same argument that has been used time and again to deny equal citizenship and widen that gap.
I do hope the 44 states that force a second-class citizenship on gay and lesbian residents will reverse course quickly. I hope legislatures across America will see the arc of history and act—rather than be left behind. I hope that as each state takes up the issue, the votes become more bipartisan and less controversial.
I hope that every state will do what New York did on Friday, but I know that a solely state-by–state solution could mean years of pain, decades of waiting, and too many of my LGBTQ brothers and sisters left behind. A solely state-by-state solution sends a government sanctioned message to the bigots and bullies that in some states it’s OK to treat LGBT people as undeserving of equal rights. And worse still, a solely state-by-state solution will always be subject to political winds and will therefore never feel permanent.
Obama knew when he spoke in Philadelphia that throughout history it has been the courts that have protected our individual rights and liberties. That’s why he talked about the struggles in the streets and in the courts—not in the state houses and the ballot boxes.
Mr. President, please consider the LGBTQ children living in Mississippi, Arkansas, and in my home state of Texas. Are their lives less worthy of protection than those in New York, Massachusetts, and Iowa?
If the civil rights of this country’s minorities are left to the states, then this will become a checkerboard nation where some areas are free and some areas are not free. Children in some states will be told to lift their heads high and others will be told they are second-class citizens, less than, and that their love and their future families are not worthy of this nation’s protection and admiration.