Saturday, March 01, 2008

Thoughts about Obama and gay rights

I have a curious habit born of a vivid imagination. I often write mini-stories in my head; they're parables sometimes, or ways of looking at an issue. There's one that's been especially vivid over the years.

Two large-ish badasses in a bar are devoted queer stompers, and determined to do some damage to a man who... well, the kind of man whose manner of dress and manner brings to mind the words "screaming queen." Even if the words are spoken with warm acceptance, and even affection, no one denies that they seem appropriate.

Seeing what's going down, a man steps in the way. Back off, he says. He ain't hurt nobody, he ain't so much as leered.

Queer stompers don't tend to go too easy on folks who stand in the way of their fun, and these two are no exceptions... but though this gentleman isn't exactly relishing the thought of a fight, he's unwilling to step aside.

It's a public place, and the element of surprise is lost. A couple cell phones are out, and someone's going to call the cops if this goes one step further, and the assailants realize this. The crisis is averted.

In tearful gratitude, our gay friend tries to say his thank yous to his protector. The response is nasty: "fuck off, faggot. If you didn't dress like fucking fruit cocktail, you wouldn't run into this kind of trouble." Because, after all, he's never liked "faggots", especially not when they dress and act like this one does.

What do you call this man, who stands up to a pair of queer stompers, but hates gay folks?

The answer is "one of the good guys." Someone who will stand up against injustice, even when it puts him at risk, and even when he doesn't have any affection for the victim.

Sure, I'd like my imaginary protective good guy a lot more if he was kindly and more tolerant. In fact, if I didn't know of his protective tendencies, I might end up hating his guts, if I heard him complain about gay folks. But in the end, he stands up for what's right, when he knows it's important.

This came to mind because I've heard some folks being bothered by Barack Obama's somewhat lukewarm support for some issues (like gay marriage), and his willingness to associate with some folks who are pretty strongly anti-gay.

Recently, he's said that he thinks there needs to be something - domestic partnerships, civil unions, or civil marriage - for gay folks.

Is it enough? I don't really think so. I'd really prefer he support nothing less than full civil marriage... just like I'd prefer that my imaginary friend were kindly and tolerant. But he agrees that there is injustice, and he's willing to take a stand against it... and that's a lot more courage than a lot of Democrats have shown. He's put his money down; anyone who opposes gay marriage can insist that a vote for Obama is a step down the slippery slope. He's taken a risk.

I think it's enough to call him one of the good guys.

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