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Gay Marriage: Political Calculation and American Idealism (La Stampa, Italy)


“For Obama as for all U.S. presidents, idealism always comes with a dose of political calculation. ... Obama’s are subtle and not without risks. ... Whatever Europeans may think, how fascinating is the charisma of a Republic that for two and a half centuries, through defeat and triumph, has pursued equality and the happiness of guaranteeing universal rights, before God and the law?”


By Gianni Riotta


Translated By Rinald Meta


May 12, 2012


Italy - La Stampa - Original Article (Italian)

Obama's civil rights gamble: With an issue as fast-moving as the acceptance of homosexuality, most political strategists are flummoxed about the consequences of his public approval of gay marriage.

BBC NEWS VIDEO: U.S. Republican hopeful Romney rejects same-sex marriage, May 12, 00:01:30RealVideo

Saying “yes” to gay marriage is Barack Obama’s first historic act. In the midst of the 2012 election campaign for the White House, the president has aligned the Democratic Party with an issue considered, along with abortion, one of the most traumatic progressive-conservative cultural schisms: 50 percent favor gay marriage and 48 percent oppose it. The president stated: “It is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married,” shielding his same-sex marriage declaration behind gay Marines on the front lines; gay staff members being “in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same sex relationships, who are raising kids together,” only to live a clandestine life because they are not heterosexuals; and his daughters Malia and Sasha who have classmates that are children of gay couples.


Obama has changed his mind since his 2004 Senate campaign, when he said: “I’m a Christian. I do believe that tradition and my religious beliefs say that marriage is something sanctified between a man and a woman.” In his 2006 essay, The Audacity of Hope, he took a step forward, and in his usual cerebral style, said, “It is my obligation not only as an elected official in a pluralistic society, but also as a Christian, to remain open to the possibility that my unwillingness to support gay marriage is misguided.” And now finally, he has said that he was.


For Obama as for every U.S. president, idealism always comes with a dose of political calculation. In the race to defeat Republican Mitt Romney in November, Obama has a serious deficiency: He has done little to achieve the dream of a wiser and more just America. The economy, in the midst of the worst crisis since 1929, has prevented him from achieving his reforms, and even health care is at risk, as it is now before the Supreme Court. The Arab world has managed its revolutions on its own, peace in Middle East is no closer than it was under G.W. Bush, strategic troop withdrawals are being carried out in Iraq and Afghanistan, and as Churchill used to say, retreats don’t win wars.

Posted by Worldmeets.US


The consent of gay marriage, long supported by the liberal base and with a passion by young people, raises the civil rights banner. At the same time, however, Obama delegates the responsibility to vote yes or no on non-heterosexual marriage to the individual states. Throughout American history, the dilemma of whether a right should be asserted on a federal level by Washington or by the single states has been a dramatic one. The 1861-1865 Civil War, which left more people dead that any other U.S. conflict, was sparked by a clash among the states over slavery. Lincoln was willing to leave slavery in force in the old American South. But controversy raged over the fate of slaves that had fled to the North, and the introduction of this odious practice into states coming into the union proved impossible to mediate. It took until the middle of the war for Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation, which deals with the subject of universal civil rights.



Modern Ghana, Ghana: Uganda Re-Introduces Gay Law as Answer to Obama
News, Switzerland: ‘Hate and Fear’ Dominate Opponents of Gay Marriage
Carta Capital, Brazil: Brazil Politicians Pale Compared to ‘Courageous’ Obama
El Universo, Ecuador: Gay Marriage in Ecuador? Let Us Hope Not!
leJDD, France: Gay Marriage: Obama Puts His Finger to Political Wind
Causeur, France: Gays in the Military? … The Greeks Had it Right
Franve TV, France: Is France Behind America on Same-Sex Marriage?
NU, The Netherlands: Marriage in America: ‘Man, Woman and God’
Guardian, U.K.: How Obama's Gay Marriage Move Changes Presidential Race
CenarioMT, Brazil: Gay Marriage: 70 Years from Disease to Presidential Blessing
The Zimbabwe Mail, Zimbabwe: Obama's Gay Stance ‘Worst Form of Satanism’
La Informacion, U.S.: In Latin America, Only Argentine Leader Stands with Obama
Liberation, France: Mr. Obama and Gay Marriage: ‘Courage’
Mail & Guardian, South Africa: South Africa: Pride, Vigilance, on Gay Rights
Globa & Mail, Canada: From Obama, a Bid to Broaden Stream of American Life
Toronto Star, Canada: Obama Tilts Scales Toward Compassion and Equity
Macleans, Canada: Obama Passes the Leadership Test
Irish Times, Ireland Mr. Obama's 'Brave and Welcome' Move
Irish Examiner, Ireland: Let's Be Honest About How We Live Our Lives
Independent, U.K.: 'Full Marks' to President Barack Obama
Independent, U.K.: At last, Obama Asks U.S. to Open Door to Acceptance
Guardian, U.K. Obama's Historic Affirmation of Gay Marriage
Economist, U.K.: Good for Obama; But Bad for Gay Marriage
Telegraph, U.K.: Import of U.S. Culture War Backfires on Cameron



Obama’s political calculations are subtle and not without risk. He knows that Democratic activists will be galvanized and that the gay community contains some of his most generous donors. And by radicalizing the agenda, he depicts Republicans as extremist bigots, capable of dumping senior Senator Richard Lugar to elect conservative Murdoch, who is linked to populist Tea Party.


But Obama also knows that Latino and African-American voters, some of his most ardent supporters, are often hostile to gay marriage, not to mention Catholics and Evangelicals in rural communities who consider the idea anathema. According to “cyber” experts who analyze online data on social networks like Facebook, Google, Twitter, blogs and other sites, the 2012 presidential election will be decided on economic issues (export-import data and employment). So it would perhaps have been better not to be “historic” on issues less critical to the White House. Vice President Biden, a Catholic, announced a few days before Obama that he favors gay marriage, and analysts scoured the Web for “metadata” on the reaction. Shielded by this digital support, Obama decided to take to the field.


One relief for Obama: Romney, pressed by conservatives, will have to introduce a constitutional amendment against gay couples, forcing him to deviate from the themes of the [economic] crisis and unemployment. A referendum to that effect was just passed in North Carolina, and others are in place in 30 states. A half dozen states, New York among them, allow gay marriage, while others will hold a referendum on the issue in November.


The New York Times, which publishes a popular chronicle every Sunday on gay marriage in well-to-do Manhattan, criticized Obama for not having proclaimed a “universal right” to marriage between people of the same sex, demanding “equal protection” of all citizens under the 14th Amendment of the Constitution. The same amendment was seized upon when Whites and Afro-Americans in the South were prohibited from marrying. A fine-tuned politician, Obama wouldn’t want to embitter the atmosphere by mentioning this. 



That is the political backdrop, and we will see in November whether Obama has properly interpreted the American mood through the Internet “metadata.” However, history books will record that in 2012, a president of the United States proclaimed the right to marriage for gay and lesbian citizens. For many Americans, this alone is a political victory. And for many others, it marks the end of a personal torment, a private injustice. Culture, religious beliefs, politics, business, school, family, welfare, the armed forces, all of American society will now walk the path opened up by Obama.


Whatever people in Europe may think, how fascinating is the charisma of a Republic that for two and a half centuries, through defeat and triumph, has pursued equality and the happiness of guaranteeing universal rights, before God and the law?




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[Posted by Worldmeets.US June 6, 8:19pm]


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