The People on the Bus
I just don't get it.
Or maybe they don't.
To me, it is as plain as a goat's ass who doesn't get it.
The gay rights struggle, law, politics, religion and other things not mentioned in polite conversation.
Hillary Clinton's explanation was no explanation, and nobody on the panel -- which had plenty of other things to ask with her about, given her record on gay and lesbian issues in the past -- pressed her for more.
The closest anyone came was Joe Solomnese, who asked the question directly, and she avoided explanation by saying "I prefer to think about it as being very positive about civil unions." and sliding into saying that she respected the "advocacy" the gay and lesbian community is "waging on behalf of marriage." Clinton then went on to say that her opposition to same-sex marriage was "personal, whatever that is supposed to mean.
Clinton, like her husband, who advised John Kerry to come out against same-sex marriage in 2004, is a political pragmatist to the core, and she will push gay and lesbian issues only when they are no longer issues -- hence repealing DADT as her "highest priority", but only after triangulating a defense of DADT itself, defending the policy as an "advance" that was badly implemented, and failed as a result..
Given Clinton's transparency, Melissa Etheridge had the right question for her: "All the great promises that were made to us [in 1992] were broken. It is many years later now. Are we going to be left behind like we were before?"
John Edwards was asked about his remarks, made some months ago, that his religious views had influenced his opposition to same-sex marriage.
"I shouldn't have said that. We have seen a president in the last six-plus years who has tried to impose his faith on the American people. I will not try to impose my faith belief on the American people."
Fair enough. But nobody asked the next question: "So if your religious views aren't the basis for your opposition to same-sex civil marriage, then what is?"
Edwards made it clear that he hadn't changed his position, whatever motivates him: "All I can tell you is where I am today. I believe in all these things (ending "don't ask," hate-crimes legislation, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act), but I don't support same-sex marriage."
Barack Obama gave the most articulate but least coherent account of his opposition to same-sex marriage.
"I'm a strong supporter not of a weak version of civil unions, but of a strong version in which the rights that are conferred at the federal level to persons who are part of a same-sex union are compatible. Now, as a consequence, I don't think that the church should be making these determinations, when it comes to legal rights conferred by the state. I do think that individual denominations have the right to make their own decisions as to whether they recognize same-sex couples. ... Part of keeping a separation of church and state is also to make sure that churches have the right to exercise their freedom of religion. ... We should try to disentangle what has historically been the issue of the word marriage, which has religious connotations to some people, from the civil rights that are given to couples. ... I would have supported and would continue to support a civil union that provides all the benefits that are available for a legally-sanctioned marriage, and it is then up to religious denominations to make a determination as to whether they want to recognize that as marriage or not."
Now, look at this mess. Obama's answer, in a nutshell, is that because the word "marriage" has religious connotations to "some people", civil marriage is not in the cards, as far as he is concerned -- he's not willing to ruffle the feathers of religious folks who believe that they own marriage.
It is high nonsense, at best, and dangerous. It is dangerous because Obama's views give credence to the Religious Right's oft-stated view that equality under the law and religious freedom are at odds.