Why does President Barack Obama enjoy a no-fly zone on gay marriage?
The Republican presidential contenders, with the exception of libertarian Ron Paul, have never supported gay marriage. Barack Obama, on the other hand, in a span of 16 years, has gone from supporting it, to "undecided," to opposition, to a position that he currently describes as "evolving."
Obama, right now, opposes gay marriage — just as does Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum. In 2008, presidential candidate Obama sounded Santorum-like when he said: "I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman. Now, for me as a Christian ... it is also a sacred union. God's in the mix."
When Santorum, the pro-life, anti-gay-marriage former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, was challenged in New Hampshire by pro-same-sex-marriage teenagers, he attempted to use the Socratic method to explain his opposition:
"How does it affect you, personally, if two men or two women get married?" Santorum was asked.
"Are we saying everyone should have the right to marry?"
"Yes!" shouted the crowd.
So anyone can marry anyone else?" Santorum asked.
"So anybody can marry several people?"
This elicited some silence, mumbles and a few "no's."
"So if you're not happy unless you're married to five other people, is that OK?" Calling the crowd back to order, Santorum continued, "If your point is, people should be allowed to do whatever makes them happy, right?"
"As long as they don't harm other people," a young woman replied.
"Who determines whether they're harming people or not?"
"Well, anybody can understand that."
"Everybody can understand it. ... So we're not going to have courts?" said Santorum.
"This isn't, it's morals, like ..."
"So there is some objective standard?" asked Santorum.
"It's morally right for two men to have the same rights as a man and a woman."
"If it makes three people happy to get married, based on what you just said, what makes that wrong and what you said right?" said Santorum.
"That's irrelevant. ... That's not what I'm talking about."
"I know. ..."
"I'm talking about the basic right that you give you and another woman."
"OK. You know, it's important if we're going to have a discussion based on rational, reasoned thought, that we employ reason. OK? And reason says that if you think it's OK for two, then you have to differentiate with me as to why it's not OK for three."
The young people wanted nothing to do with Socrates.
"Santorum Compares Gay Marriage to Polygamy," blared the next day's headlines across the country. Santorum, of course, did not "compare" same-sex marriage. He merely raised a legitimate issue. Where, if at all, does society draw the line? If one rejects society's consensus that, until now, confined marriage to a man and a woman, why limit a marriage to but one spouse? What argument prevents someone from declaring his undying love for three people and insists that the law permit him to marry all three?
The real story should have been this: Why did the teen get away with simply saying, in effect, "I'm not talking about more than one spouse"? Does that end the discussion?
Obama, as a candidate for the Illinois Senate in 1996, responded to a questionnaire from the newspaper Outlines (now the Windy City Times): "I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages." Two years later, in an Illinois legislative survey, Obama was "undecided" on whether Illinois should recognize same-sex marriage.
Obama reversed Don't Ask Don't Tell so that one cannot be expelled from the military solely because of sexual orientation. And Obama refuses to defend the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage, at the federal level, as between a man and a woman and allows any state to refuse to recognize a same-sex marriage entered into in another state.
Given these "pro-gay" measures, how much of a leap is it for Obama now to assert his support for gay marriage? New York Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer came out last year in support of gay marriage. So has former President Bill Clinton. Instead, Obama said his position on gay marriage is "evolving" — and he gets away with it. The media seem unbothered by Obama's reversal on the question of same-sex marriage. Santorum, however, is pressed to explain his opposition.
Does Obama, like Santorum, worry about boundaries and limits if he were to support same-sex marriage? Does Obama's religion, like that of Santorum's, still inform his position on gay marriage? If so, how is that any more tolerant than the "hostile-to-gay-rights" Santorum?
Santorum actually praised the citizens of New Hampshire for the way it went about legalizing gay marriage. The people of that state, said Santorum, legalized gay marriage "the right way — they passed it through the (state) legislature, they didn't have the court impose it like they did in other states."
Santorum, like it or not, is clear — and consistent. Why does Obama get a pass?
Larry Elder is a best-selling author and radio talk-show host. To find out more about Larry Elder, or become an "Elderado," visit www.LarryElder.com. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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