Thursday, May 10, 2012

Obama backs equality

US President Barack Obama has finally gotten off the fence and come out in support of same-sex marriage:

Obama said he had been swayed in particular by considering the service of gays and lesbians in the US military. "At a certain point I just concluded, for me personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married," Obama said.


In the interview, Obama said he had always been adamant that gay and lesbian people should be treated fairly and equally. But he added: "I had hesitated on gay marriage, in part because I thought civil unions would be sufficient … something that would give people hospital visitation rights and other elements we take for granted. And I was sensitive to the fact that for a lot of people the word marriage was something that evokes powerful traditions, religious beliefs, and so forth."

There's an obvious irony here of Obama, a black man, thinking that "separate but equal" was OK for gays. But its good to see that he's moved past that. And while his support is "only symbolic "(because its not as if the US President can, like, set federal government policy or anything), its one hell of a powerful symbol.

So, where's Labour on this? Last election, they avoided the topic. Their supposedly "pro same-sex marriage" rainbow policy (included here [PDF]; get it before it disappears down the memory hole like the individual release) couldn't even bring itself to use the phrase "same-sex marriage", promising only to "review and update relationship and relationship property law". Meanwhile, their politicians called it "a peripheral issue" and that Civil Unions were enough and they were "not intending to make further changes". Charitably, they were deceitful, trying to send different messages to different groups (something which no longer works in the age of the internet). Less charitably, they had decided to throw gays under the bus. Either way, it was a display of the chickenshittery that made them not worth supporting.

Wouldn't it be nice if our major "progressive" party was actually progressive, and not afraid to say so, rather than skulking and trying to hide its moral principles?