Presidential Choice - Why Obama's Marriage Stance Affects Us

Why did Obama just win my vote in 2012? Gay marriage may have its detractors, but it is here to stay.

I don't cry easily.  I pride myself on having a thick skin, yet the night of November 4th, 2008 I wept. Hard. Proposition 8 had passed in California, and I felt devestated.  My relationship had been invalidated and insulted.  I seriously considered leaving the country and relocating to the United Kingdom.  I wrote several blog posts, called friends and family and settled into a cold, rational fury.

Thomas Jefferson, in my opinion was one of the great statesmen of our nation.  A founding father, the co-author of the Declaration of Independence, a man of deep conviction and rigorous ethical standards, he has been an inspiration to many in our country and beyond.  He said in his first inaugural address, "All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possesses their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression. Let us, then, fellow citizens, unite with one heart and one mind. Let us restore to social intercourse that harmony and affection without which liberty and even life itself are but dreary things. And let us reflect that, having banished from our land that religious intolerance under which mankind so long bled and suffered, we have yet gained little if we countenance a political intolerance as despotic, as wicked, and capable of as bitter and bloody persecutions."

Our current president, Barak Obama, who arguably is the "first" president in many ways - the first black president and the first to take a definitive, solid position on same sex marriage, actually surpised me.  In a era of sound bites, political potshots and shifting priorities of the vocal few, he simply stated that his evolving view has now crystalized into a certainty.  Same sex marriage, not civil union is the only moral, right and equitable position for the federal government to take.  This on the heels of North Carolina's state consititutional ammendment to block same sex marriage, makes it even more shocking to me from a policial standpoint.

My partner Anthony and I talked about it this morning at about 4 am.  Why 4 am? Because he is British, works in Macau, China and there is a 15 hour time difference.  So we talk twice a day on Skype.  I found Anthony's comments insightful. "I think it is historic. Obama has come out firmly on the side of equal rights.  It may not win him votes, but he did the right thing for couples like us and ultimately the future."  At some point, we will get married. We are already domestic partners in California, have a recorded civil union in the UK and a common law marriage certificate in Macau.

Why is this important to us?  I would counter that with, why is it important for any couple? To affirm our love with our families & friends, to ensure proper legal rights and connectivity, to potentially prepare our household for children and to formalize in a socially recognized way our monogomous, long term commitment.  We have been together twelve years and trust me, we have had our own ups and downs, just like any other couple.

There is another important legal aspect.  Anthony could legally work here and reside in the US permenently.  He has always done so in the past, thankfully due to his work as a flight attendant for British Airways and then as a student.  Now, he is only able to be here as a visitor.  Once we are married and recognized by the federal government, that will all change.

"I have never believed there was one code of morality for a public and another for a private man." Jefferson also said this, and so I too agree. We cannot permit rights for some and not for others.  These are not, as some claim, special rights, they are equal rights for citizens.  Just as my friend Bryce married his lovely Swedish wife, Annika, soon, I too will have the chance to marry my spouse from the UK, because the rules for the individuals in our constitutional republic are the same regardless of sexual orientation.

The US should lead the world in human rights and our President just did.  Obama and I may disagree on some issues, but his clarity of thought, calm and rational reflection, and his deep conviction to side on the side of reason rather than expediency won my vote.  What do you think of it?

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Erik Dreyer-Goldman May 11, 2012 at 02:33 AM
SBVIKING - I made a statement. I did not direct it towards anyone. I was merely making my voice heard.
Seth Eaker May 11, 2012 at 03:41 AM
Nancy, I concur with you, I didn't take Erik's comment directed to anyone either. DjDiG13, I also would agree, as I mentioned, that we the citizens need to take control of our own lives. There is a disturbing trend in our nation to abdicate responsibility for our lives, especially our civic life in the name of safety, security, political correctness or a number of other "reasons." Last time I checked, we are ultimately responsible for our government. To paraphrase Plato in his Symposium, "The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by worse men." We should stand ready to defend our liberty, rights and equality at all times, for the tyranny of a government left unchecked by its citizens is ultimately the path to ruin.
SBVIKING May 11, 2012 at 03:50 AM
Perhaps that was a misread on my part Erik, and for that I apologize. Seth, I really appreciated your thoughtful comments on this topic, and wish you and your partner the very best in the future.
Seth Eaker May 11, 2012 at 04:07 AM
My pleasure, and thank you for participating. Perhaps one day as Nancy suggests, we shall all have a laugh about this and other incendiary topics at Hof's Hut. Though honestly, I would always argue for dining at a local business - how about a nice $10 lunch at 320 Main?
SBVIKING May 11, 2012 at 04:11 AM
As any good representative of the chamber would. Tell you what, lunch is one me and I'll look forward to it.
Panglonymous May 11, 2012 at 04:58 AM
Those aren't pillows! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2pu0m9iTo4
Renee Ferguson May 11, 2012 at 05:11 AM
One's private choices, as long as said choices are not unconsensually harmful to another or to the public, are just that a private matter. Everyone has the right and is entitled to live a life that makes them happy and healthy regardless of whether we the public agrees with it and/or likes it. Seth - please keep writing your insightful commentary. Your relationship is wonderful and one to be admired. Much love, Renée
ChristieD May 11, 2012 at 01:42 PM
Thank you so much for writing this wonderful article Seth! As the mother of three sons, one of which is gay, I was also brought to tears by Obama's statement of his position. As for the question on whether being gay is a choice: my son also knew at around 5 years old that there was something different about him. Later, he knew how he was different, but didn't have a name to put to it. Middle school was a horror for him...the teasing and bullying was very painful. Being a very good looking and athletic young man, he tried over the next couple of years to "be straight" by having girlfriends and such. Since we used to go to a very conservative church, the guilt and shame was horrific and at several points, he considered taking his own life. Coming out was the greatest relief for him, and it was also the beginning of the most amazing period of growth for our family. SBVIKING...I do admit that at times I become very angry at what I see as ignorance and bigotry...but I have to remember that I had to make that journey myself, and so I work on having patience with other people's "evolution" on the issue. I truly appreciate your willingness to have open dialogue on this matter instead of slinging religious quotes around and using God to rationalize an anti-gay stance. As a mother of a gay child, and also a Christian, I thank you for that. And SETH, the best to you and Anthony...THANK YOU for stepping into the spotlight and writing this article...it is much appreciated!
jeff s May 11, 2012 at 02:59 PM
Gays will never truly be accepted. They will always be strange awkward and poked fun of in private and public. Mariage is defined as a union between a man and a woman. You cannot change the definition of a fish and call it a cat because it's what's culturally popular. Mabe you should leave because your argument is based on emotion, not traditional historical fact. I love my horse it loves me, we're getting married and you gays can't stop us!!!
MFriedrich May 11, 2012 at 03:45 PM
@jeff s Last I checked the subject matter was not marital unions across animal species. Nice straw animal constructions though. As for the assertion that "Gays will never truly be accepted", times and attitudes change dude. You're probably right in that there will always be prejudice, etc., but things will never be the same a decade from now.
Joker Joe May 11, 2012 at 04:11 PM
Why not marry your animal? We have been fed the poison that guy on guy is natural. That women on women is natural. If said enough it becomes natural. When a loser like Obama says it, it becomes treason. Poison the minds and tradition of man and women marriages and anything is next. I love my cats and want to marry them all. Not sure if they love me but why not? Keep pushing the issue and eventually it may be excepted. The gay marriage is not necessary unless you need a tax write off or are looking for government subsidies. If you love your partner you do not need a marriage certificate. Sooo what is the objective? Maybe because you want to adopt a child? Great. There are enough messed up kids and adding them to a family of neuters will not help. You bring little to the gene pool and most likely diminish the family values that took generations to produce. I hope I get credit for talking nicely but that was not my objective.
Chris Peters May 11, 2012 at 05:34 PM
Wow...BoBo is full of hate hate...
Seth Eaker May 11, 2012 at 07:01 PM
Jeff S, I never talked about animals. Animals can't consent. Marriage in a simple, legal definition is actually a private contract between two individuals. It may be "sanctified" or validated by a religious institution or individual, but the state has the ability to marry people in a purely secular way. If not, atheists would not be able to marry. I would disagree that my argument is based on emotion. As to Bo Bo, it is unfortunate that you want to attack a group based on distaste rather than some kind of logical, rational arguement. As for talking "nicely" - not sure that was truly your intent. If you read my article, I lay out very specific legal rights, like federal immigration which is not possible without marriage. I would suggest you take your own advice and not get emotional. I would ask, how does my potential marriage affect you or your marriage? It has no impact on you or yours, so why deny it to me other than simply out of spite? As to the "family values that took generations to produce," if you are the evolution of said values, I for one wish no part them. You take good care, and I wish you the best in your life.
Seth Eaker May 11, 2012 at 07:02 PM
Yes. Clearly.
Lori Walker May 12, 2012 at 04:24 AM
I am a straight woman. I can remember my teenage years when I was wildly attracted to boys. I was a very "good" girl but I can certainly recall the silly adolescent crushes and the butterflies in my tummy when a cute boy was nearby. As an adult, I am more mature and more keenly selective. But, I don't "choose" to have an attraction to men. It is just a natural thing for me that I am attracted to a man. No one ever "taught me" to be this way. I just am this way. But I have sometimes wondered this..... What if I had all those same experiences and feelings but I wasn't a woman? What if I had those "natural feelings" and yet I was born a male? I am the "lucky one" because, as fate would have it, I was born a female. No one questions me about why I would feel this way. I do not believe for one minute that a person "chooses" to be gay. You are who you are and you feel the way that you feel. Seth, I truly hope that you and your partner will someday be able to marry and live together. If two adults fall in love and want to marry, they should be able to take that step legally. Thank you for sharing your thoughts! :-)
MFriedrich May 12, 2012 at 05:37 AM
@bo bo, "The gay marriage is not necessary unless you need a tax write off or are looking for government subsidies. If you love your partner you do not need a marriage certificate. Sooo what is the objective?" Remove "the gay" from above and your argument applies to heterosexuals as well. Ban only gay marriage? Why not ban all marriage? "What's the objective?"
Seth Eaker May 12, 2012 at 06:09 AM
Thank you Renée for your kind support. You and Nat are an inspiration as a couple. Love back to you and darling Grace.
Seth Eaker May 12, 2012 at 06:14 AM
ChristineD - congratulations to your son and your entire family for your love and support. Holding deep beliefs and convictions and being true to them in your love for your son is beautiful. Thank you for sharing your journey. I would presume to speak for my mother and say that my entire family, especially my mother and stepfather have had a remarkable journey. I have been blessed with a family like yours which has been supportive, kind and loving through all of the stages - even now, speaking publicly. Their strength is part of what firms my resolve to be civil, expressive and kind regardless of what might come my way. That was one of the many gifts they gave me.
Seth Eaker May 12, 2012 at 06:18 AM
Lori, thank you. I know we will and it is through the evolution of our society and really our straight allies that help make change possible. Ultimately the minority must understand that in part, it is the mercy and kindness of the majority which will lead to change. I truly believe we have reached a tipping point in our society and change is inevitable. Interestingly enough, I too feel "lucky" and am certain that I was born exactly as I was supposed to be and have a life filled with wonderful, helpful loving people. We all as Henry James said, "Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind." May we all evolve to this state. Clearly you have.
Bill Koelzer May 13, 2012 at 07:11 AM
I simply cannot understand why some people are so obsessed with stopping other people from living their lives the way they want to. Especially since same-sex marriage is not harming anyone. Imagine how you would feel if, magically, there were more of them than there were of us? Would you want them forbidding opposite-sex marriages? Gee, when you put the shoe on the other foot that way, it looks different, doesn't it?
MFriedrich May 13, 2012 at 01:21 PM
@Bill, I think it's because they read a passage in Leviticus and think that proves the point. Of course, they conveniently ignore all the other lethal admonitions against working on Sundays, marrying a non-virgin, associating with infidels, eating non-kosher foods, premarital sex...and that's before we get to the subjugation of women. In other words, it's all a huge joke. They know it. Selective 21st century piety cannot be taken seriously.
John B. Greet May 13, 2012 at 03:31 PM
Seth: While I appreciate and fully respect the significance the President's disclosure may have for you and others, I think it is far less significant (e.g. impactful) than some want to believe that it is or will be. Despite his pronouncement, nothing has changed concerning federal law as regards marriage, nor is anything likely to. Despite his pronouncement, neither he nor the federal branch of government he leads can do one single thing to either authorize or prevent the states from deciding for themselves on this important issue. If it *is* that significant, what I think it signifies is a blatant example of POTUS' dismal ineptitude as a leader and as a confirmation of the purely political creature he is and always has been. If we are truly to believe that POTUS has finally -and only recently- "evolved" in this important area of civil rights, then I think that is a pretty sad statement about the alleged evolution of someone who many view as the leader of the free world. Perhaps POTUS is being honest and he truly has finally "evolved" on a person level on this issue. Good for him! Such a "personal evolution" is, I think, long overdue. To pronounce, however, as he now has, that the legality of marriage is a matter for states to resolve among themselves is not only self-evident but constitutionally indisputable. For Potus to arrive at *this* particular "governmental evolution" at this late stage in his life and career troubles me greatly.
S.A.P. May 13, 2012 at 04:41 PM
I was just as happy about it when VP Dick Cheney came out pro gay marriage 3 years ago :)
Seth Eaker May 13, 2012 at 08:21 PM
John: thanks for your comments. Is the timing of Obama's statements politically motivated? I can't answer that. I can say that he has made substantial progress in LGBT issues during his presidency and made LGBT equality, now more than ever a clear statement. I certainly haven't seen anyone else in the presidential campaign on the other side come anywhere close on such an affirmative stance. I would further disagree that the issue is a matter for states to decide actually not "constitutionally indisputable." At some point, the federal government must be the arbitrer for our nation. This will likely occur under the SCOTUS rather than the Presidency, but I am uncertain when that may happen. Given the current conservative bent of the court, I am not as comfortable as I would like. Further, to Shipley, I can't say that I was ever very impressed with VP Cheney or unfortunately, his daughter Mary. Her book was a dismal failure to the LGBT community and she became a great disappointment, as did her father to most LGBT constituents.
John B. Greet May 13, 2012 at 09:12 PM
For me, Seth, it comes down to symbolism over substance, where POTUS (or any federal elected official or candidate for federal office, for that matter) is concerned. For these sorts of folks to express their personal views on this issue serves little constructive purpose. Sure, as nationally recognized figures, their personal opinions may help to convince others but, again, I think they should restrict their public actions, activities, and commentaries to those matters that the federal government is specifically authorized to be involved with. Like government-mandated healthcare, marriage equality should, indeed, be a matter for states to sort out for themselves. Either that or we should muster the votes necessary to amend the federal constitution to include that responsibility among the other enumerated powers. If we were to open up the powers of the federal legislative and executive branches to any and all matters upon which SCOTUS could conceivably be called upon to render an opinion one day, there would be no limits on those branches at all. This was not, however, what was intended when we constructed our government in the way that we did. I would prefer to keep marriage legality where it rightly (and more fairly) belongs, among the states. I would prefer that reciprocity occur, wherein gay couples who are legally married in, say, CT, had their marriages fully recognized and honored in, say, TX, while those couples are visiting that state.
Seth Eaker May 13, 2012 at 09:55 PM
John, I could live with the reciprocity issue for states, but that still doesn't get to the core issue for my partner and me, immigration. Even if California recognized same sex marriage, until the federal government, which controls immigration has mandated it, my relationship is still unequal. I do agree on the balance of powers in our government. Thanks for the insights and comments.
Janet Whitcomb May 19, 2012 at 10:10 PM
It's a tribute to your excellent first statement and responding comments, Seth, that almost every response, whatever the opinion expressed, has been thoughtful and worthy of discourse. Although some people clearly will never give you the respect that you give them, your dignity and humanity go a long way to winning many hearts and minds.
RationalOC May 30, 2012 at 06:06 PM
I'm a heterosexual woman married to a man. My marriage is as threatened by gay marriage as it is by the price of tea in China. People who think their marriages are threatened by gay marriage just don't take their own vows seriously enough.
Bill Koelzer May 31, 2012 at 04:08 AM
Very well said, Janet. Seth is out there making a DIFFERENCE in the world, making it a better place for all.
Seth Eaker May 31, 2012 at 01:55 PM
RationalOC, Janet Whitcomb and Bill Koezler - thank you for your kind words and thoughtful support. Ultimately change will be brought about when enough people realize that this is not a divisive issue, but one which can actually help us all see how we are more similar than different. I was speaking with a friend, who was married, has two sons and now has been with his same sex partner for twenty years. He somewhat jokingly said, "anyone who has been through divorce knows how getting married again opens you up to even more loss and pain. I may never do it again." We should take our vows seriously - not just marriage, but simply our word and our integrity. We have an obligation as citizens to protect our neighbors and our rights. In an even larger sense, we are all part of the human race, and I for one hope that in my lifetime we will go to a place of greater acceptance of each other in all thought and physical patterns - religion, political structure, race, gender, orientation, etc...Living with integrity in our identity should help us achieve that. Thank you again for your thoughts.


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