Will President Obama catch up with Louis Marinelli?

April 18, 2011 at 11:00 am 23 comments

By Adam Bink

That’s an interesting question. I think of it because of a comment Rick Jacobs left on Louis’ guest post here last week, directed at Louis:

Standing up for yourself can be tougher than one thinks. Admitting that your thinking has evolved is even tougher, but even the President says he is on a journey regarding marriage. It’s fascinating that you are ahead of him on this.

Whatever your feelings on how Louis evolved, Rick has a fair point.

A lot of friends of mine give President Obama a pass on supporting the right of same-sex couples to enter into a commitment he and Michelle are in because of re-election “concerns” (a political point I strongly dispute, but that’s a very long argument in a post for another day).

Yeah, well, you know what Louis risked? A monthly consulting paycheck from NOM, friends on the other side of the divide who fervently oppose equality, professional relationships, and now being threatened with legal action, all while living away from his home country and teaching English as a foreign language to make ends meet.

I’m not trying to make anyone into some sort of angel. And as Louis wrote, there is a lot to make up for. Trust me, I toiled through live-blogging two long bus tours and fought against the destruction NOM created in states like Maine and New Hampshire. I’m just saying that as long as we’re talking about having courage and taking risks, if an ordinary guy can have the courage to do what’s right and risk everything for the sake of civil rights and the equality of millions of people, I expect my President to do the same — even more so now that a majority of the American public (which now includes one former NOM staffer) supports what he and Michelle don’t.

Entry filed under: Community/Meta.

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23 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Ann S.  |  April 18, 2011 at 11:06 am

    In the next term I would bet we’ll see this.

  • 2. Rhie  |  April 18, 2011 at 11:10 am


  • 3. AnonyGrl  |  April 18, 2011 at 11:12 am

    Adam, I would probably argue with you some about the political expediency, and say that I do understand President Obama being slower to rush into the fray.

    He DOES want to be reelected. Coming out in full favor of marriage equality, even when more than half the country is in favor would be risky. I don’t LIKE it, but it is a fact of political life. He needs people from both sides of that fence to support him or he won’t win. Not every person who is on the equality side is going to vote for him, and he needs to not completely alientate those on the other side.

    My guess is that after he is reelected, he will shift even further in our direction. I would be strongly willing to bet that on a personal level he is already behind us, and he is merely stuck in the political game.

    I guess we will see how it plays out. I am not willing to give up on him yet, he is our best hope of equality in any of the candidates who are heading towards running in the next election.

    I hate the wait. But I would hate losing even more. Yes, there are people (Ed and Derrence, for instance) who are losing now and we all bleed for them. But if we screw this up and don’t win the war, everyone loses.

    • 4. Sagesse  |  April 18, 2011 at 11:25 am

      Obama can duck marriage equality because marriage is a state matter, not a federal matter. There is no federal legislation to be promoted or passed or signed by the president that allows anyone to marry. His personal opinion would provide moral support only.

      He has supported the repeal of DOMA and DADT, and the passage of ENDA, all of which are federal. He would oppose an amendment to the US Constitution to prohibit same sex marriage in any state, but that is such a long shot it’s not even worth talking about.

      • 5. Alex  |  April 18, 2011 at 11:31 am

        Obama opposed Proposition 8…..Marriage has become a federal matter as they recognize heterosexual marriages when it comes to federal benefits.

        • 6. Sagesse  |  April 18, 2011 at 11:37 am

          He has said he opposes DOMA, which is the denial of benefits to LGBT families that are legally married under state law. There is no federal law that is affected by his personal opinion on whether LGBT couples should be allowed to marry.

    • 7. adambink  |  April 18, 2011 at 11:46 am

      One thing. This isn’t the year 2004.

      This is 2011 heading into 2012, with more states and DC, majorities favoring legalization, Prop and DOMA struck down (so far), scores of state legislators who have been re-elected after voting for or vocally supporting marriage (some who live in pretty conservative areas) and a very angry portion of the President’s electoral coalition (the gays) many of whom plan on staying home or volunteering for other candidates because their fierce advocate turned out to be, well, not.

      So, I’d need someone to look at the whole landscape, including numbers, and show me that on balance, it doesn’t help the President. That’s the subject of a longer post I refer to, but conventional wisdom that Touchy Gay Issues Hurt Candidates just doesn’t won’t cut it anymore. That was 2004.

      • 8. AnonyGrl  |  April 18, 2011 at 11:55 am

        I wish it were true, Adam, and I would be overjoyed to find that it were.

        I just don’t think politics and political maneuvering move as fast as the rest of the world. DOMA itself was a 1950’s piece of legislation enacted in 1996, for heavens sake!

        Again, not at all thrilled about it, and we certainly need to keep up the fight because that is the only way we can overcome the political machine. But let’s not lose faith in Obama because he plays the game he must.

        • 9. adambink  |  April 18, 2011 at 12:55 pm

          “plays the game he must”

          Again, I just want to gently challenge you a little bit. Make an argument to me that it is net worse for the President to make this move in terms of political calculations and re-elections. Right now, it’s all just conventional wisdom and assumptions. My (admittedly abbreviated, subject to a longer post) argument is based on numbers and electoral coalitions. On what do you base yours?

          • 10. AnonyGrl  |  April 18, 2011 at 1:24 pm

            I base mine on years and years of watching politicians play games, mostly. No, I don’t have numbers, and as I said, I am happy to be proven wrong here… my thoughts on this are simply from long observation of the political system and how it works. So I guess I am just observing the “conventional wisdom” and assuming that while change IS happening, it is not as radical as all that.

            As to my argument, the net loss I fear is that while we are over the 50% mark, that is not a STRONG majority yet. As such, I think it needs to be played more carefully. The high risk is that if marriage equality becomes a major issue in the next presidential election, it won’t take much by way of commercials saying “but what about the CHILDREN?” (as we have seen before) to push some of those folks backwards and motivate the far right to vote in greater numbers. And we have yet to devise a sure fire counter to that fear mongering. So is it better to risk the backlash or to bide our time till after the election?

            I don’t know. I don’t have data that proves I am right, I am just saying I think that this is the concern that is keeping Obama and his team from taking the steps we would like him to take. He doesn’t LOSE us by being cautious (because who else is there for us to elect who is going to even come CLOSE to what he has already done?) and he doesn’t lose the OTHER side by not pushing the issue. So even if he could possibly win by declaring himself to be pro marriage equality fully, it doesn’t seem like it would be the safest move, so why do it?

            I do very much look forward to reading your longer post on the subject, I am sure it will give us all a great insight to future possibilities that my current pessimism is raining on.

          • 11. adambink  |  April 18, 2011 at 1:56 pm


            Thanks for the courteous response.

            I think where we didn’t see eye to eye is that you present two options: backlash or doing nothing.

            I suggest the third option and the reason for doing this is firing up a disaffected, disappointed base electoral bloc. I don’t have to tell folks here that there are a LOT of people angry at Obama not just on this issue, but for dragging feet on DADT, the DOMA brief, refusing to be a fierce advocate publicly on LGBT issues but happy to do so on health care and many other issues. This would be a shot in the arm — votes, volunteers, dollars. I have a lot of friends who aren’t politically active at all but think Obama doesn’t do anything for them.

            That’s one big reason I say this will HELP him on net, and why the conventional wisdom is wrong. The religious right already can’t stand Obama and plan to do everything they can to destroy him. Meanwhile, our side is ho-hum.

      • 12. Bob  |  April 18, 2011 at 12:02 pm

        pretty fiesty, I like your point Adam, looking forward to reading more

    • 13. Phillip R  |  April 18, 2011 at 11:53 am

      I’d have to agree Anon. I may not like it but he needs to focus on reelection at this point.

  • 14. Ed Cortes  |  April 18, 2011 at 11:21 am


    • 15. Ronnie  |  April 18, 2011 at 2:35 pm


  • 16. Bob  |  April 18, 2011 at 11:27 am

    what AnonyGrl said,,, first work at getting him back in,,,

  • 17. Alan E.  |  April 18, 2011 at 11:31 am

    subbing now, reading into it later.

  • 18. Kathleen  |  April 18, 2011 at 11:34 am

  • 19. Michelle Evans  |  April 18, 2011 at 11:37 am

    OT, but wanted to share. Life magazine has a photo gallery from a photography by the name of Anthony Karen, who was granted access to take photos inside the Westboro Baptist Church. If you’re interested in seeing the faces of hate, here’s thew link:


    I found it fascinating to see these people and the compound on which they live. Sort of a “Know your enemy” experience.

    • 20. Sarah  |  April 18, 2011 at 3:36 pm

      This weekend I watched a movie/documentary called “Fall from Grace” (2007), which was an inside look at WBC and also spoke about their affect on their city, as far as perception goes. It was well-done and they actually got face time with the man himself as well as other family members, including with 2 children who had left the church and family years ago. Very interesting! Very scary as well, seeing many of the younger kids (say, 7-15 year-old range) spouting off hateful things in the vein of their “preacher” grandfather.

      But when it was done, I realized that I have become able to literally find their hate-spewing laughable. It just does not make sense. That does not make it okay and does not mean that it does not do damage, but at this point it slides off of me personally due to its utter nonsensical hatefulness.

      I would definitely recommend the movie! :)

  • 21. truthspew  |  April 18, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    I think Obama is already there but he’s the consummate politician and he’s loathe to move before the next election cycle. Let him get a second term and I bet he’ll come out swinging for us.

  • 22. chris  |  April 18, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    So Brian Brown and NOM are suing Mr. Marinelli to silence him. I thought they were all about protecting free speech!

  • 23. Tony Douglass In Ca  |  April 18, 2011 at 8:53 pm

    This is a good spot to voice a thought I had yesterday. If the NOM Summer of Love/Hate was able affect a change of heart for Louis, who else is sitting on the fence, waiting for an excuse to jump off?

    Also, lately, one of the arguments that have been going back and forth, has been whether or not the current struggles can be compared to the civil rights struggles of the 60’s, and whether or not Martin Luther King Jr would have, or did, support the concept of gay marriage.

    These two thoughts led be to think of Alveda King. I know she made some pretty strong opinions, but its still possible she could be struggling with doubts about her position, after meeting so many “ordinary” people on the tour, even the little time she was on it. I wonder if Louis could reach out tho her to see if she might be in a similar place he was.


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