In other news, there's a big Obama fundraiser tonight at George Clooney's house.
I guess ticket sales had been slow.
Mr. Obama is nothing if not calculating and deliberate. Therefore it seems evident, in retrospect, that Mr. Obama and his campaign advisers first let Joe Biden endorse gay marriage... but when that didn't sufficiently ignite the fundraising base they next let the Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, make a similar announcement.
Ordinarily, and certainly on paper, the Secretary of Education ranks far below the Vice President in the power pecking order. But Mr. Duncan is a fellow Chicagoan, a frequent basketball-playing partner of Mr. Obama's. Having Duncan signal support for gay marriage was meant to say, nudge, nudge, wink, wink, that Obama was really in favor of gay marriage too.
Still, fundraising did not take off.
Thus yesterday's 'bold' announcement.
I'll bet there's a good turnout tonight at Mr. Clooney's -- and a far more enthusiastic crowd than might have otherwise assembled.
But Mr. Obama knew he was taking a risk -- would this gain or lose him votes in Ohio or the other swing states that will decide his reelection bid? It wasn't as if gays were going to abandon him for a Republican -- good heavens! -- but elections aren't just about votes. They're also about dollars. Mr. Obama's support among business leaders is far more limited than it was in 2008; he needs to replace those dollars somewhere. There's a lot of money floating around in Hollywood.
Besides, when it comes to what's right and what's wrong, the pro-gay marriage people are closer to the mark than their adamant foes. This brilliant bit (obtained from George Takei's often entertaining Facebook page) points out the hypocrisy found among too many in the one-man-one-woman crowd:
Homosexuality has existed at all times in all places in all cultures. Some people will be gay whether homosexuality is tolerated, persecuted, celebrated or made a capital offense.
Because there will always be gay people, it stands to reason that some of them will, in due course, fall in love and live together.
One of the compelling arguments in favor of gay marriage are the indignities visited on gay people who are hospitalized. Because a longtime companion may have no legal status (and because of well-intended privacy laws foisted on us by Ted Kennedy), overly fussy hospitals sometimes refuse a dying person the comfort of the person closest to him or her.
You do not have to think homosexuality "right" or "good" to know that this is wrong, wrong, wrong.
On the other hand, gay marriage is just not marriage.
You can make an argument that marriage is not just one-man-and-one-woman -- there is ample precedent for marriage to be defined as one-man-and-several-women. The Bible tells us that Abraham had two wives ("and look at all the trouble that's gotten us into," says Long Suffering Spouse). But nowhere, never, not at anyplace or time in the world did marriage ever mean one-man-and-another-man or one-woman-and-another-woman. Even in ancient Sparta, where male homosexuality in the army was encouraged as a means of building unit cohesion, discharged veterans were expected to settle down with a female and marry and breed new soldiers for the city-state.
You can't change the meaning of a word by imposing upon it an artificial definition. Yes, certainly, language evolves and the meanings of words can change over time because people use them differently. "Fie" was pretty strong language in Elizabethan times. I'm old enough to remember when "gay" meant "happy." I suppose the dictionary may still support that definition -- but, if happiness is what you're attempting to convey, don't try trying telling strangers how gay you feel.
I suppose my objection here is a consequence of my training as a lawyer. For years I have had to cope with answering Interrogatories drafted by lawyers who feel the need to "define" every piddly term they use. Some are not necessarily hard to deal with. In a typical "Definitions and Instructions" section you might find this:
The term "person" means any natural person, corporation, association, partnership, joint venture, or other business entity or organization, or any governmental or administrative agency.(And yet many lawyers were among the persons most upset when the Supreme Court decided to think that corporations are persons!)
But some "definitions" are just impossible-to-comply-with gobbledygook:
The terms "and" and "or" should be construed either conjunctively or disjunctively, whichever makes the interrogatory more inclusive.Think about this for a minute: Under this "definition" the phrase "three or four" might equal seven!
And these "definitions" just send me over the edge, every stinking time:
The singular form shall be construed to include the plural, and vice versa, whenever such a dual construction will serve to bring within the scope of any of these Interrogatories information that would otherwise not be within their scope.I always object to this verbal clutter by presenting my own counter-definitions, insisting that my Answers are intended to be read in standard English, unless the use of another language is clearly indicated. I'll insist that the singular will not include the plural, nor the plural the singular, nor will "up" mean "down" or "in" mean "out."
The past tense shall be construed to include the present tense, and vice versa, whenever such a dual construction will serve to bring within the scope of any of these Interrogatories information that would otherwise not be within their scope.
No one has ever challenged my position on this in front of a judge.
I object to gay marriage = marriage just as I object to and = or. Redefining "cow" to include "horse" does not make it OK to eat My Friend Flicka.
Giving legal recognition to homosexual relationships is a new thing. For now, therefore, the new term "civil union" is more than adequate for this purpose, as long as Adam and Steve in a "civil union" are given the same legal rights as Adam and Eve in their marriage. I've said here before that I'd take the government out of the marriage business entirely and instead license the consensual relationship between any two persons (not barred by consanguinity) as a civil union. I'd let churches decide what is, or is not, "marriage."
Eventually, perhaps, by common usage, marriage will come to include same-sex relationships. That's the way the language may evolve. But it ain't there yet, whatever they say tonight at George Clooney's house.