Marriage Equality is certainly in the news today with both some good and bad news, and in my opinion the two events aren't unrelated.
So on the one hand, we have North Carolina's latest move in the ongoing worst state in the Union competition: Amendment 1. It's pretty shameful and despicable that the people of North Carolina would decide to single out a group of people for discrimination and write that bigotry into their very constitution.
But the fact that they feel it necessary to go to such lengths is itself a sign of their waning influence. The writing is on the wall and gallup polls have begun to consistently show that a plurality support equal rights for LGBT Americans, and that plurality is growing. The bigots are running scared, and are doing everything they can to get their bigoted laws on the books now, because in a few years they won't have the political capital to do even that.
In their desperation, I think supporters of Amendment 1 in North Carolina may have done more to harm their cause than help it. Amendment 1 is pretty flagrantly a direct act of discrimination, and when it is challenged (and it will be) the battle to defend it will be a difficult one. Being an amendment to the state's constitution, it's pretty well entrenched, but that might just make it the key to getting a universal federal ruling in favor of Marriage Equality.
Armchair speculation aside, I do think it's already triggered positive action elsewhere. Specifically, the Oval Office.
President Obama's public statement in support of Marriage Equality couldn't be better timed in my opinion, and serves as a direct counterpoint to the demoralizing influence of North Carolina's Amendment 1 passing. My more cynical friends worry that it's a political maneuver in an election year -which, of course, it is- but I don't think that makes it insincere or diminishes how good it is he said it.
First off, it's simply the right thing to do, and I don't think there is a wrong time to do the right thing. Should he have made this declaration sooner? Yeah, but better today than tomorrow.
I've also seen friends worry that taking a stand on Marriage Equality will hurt his chances of re-election. I think that remains to be seen, but honestly I think it will help more than it hurts. President Obama's always been a moderate, but when he was elected many progressives thought they had put a much more liberal man in the White House, and as a result were somewhat disillusioned when he failed to live up to their expectations.
Standing up for Marriage Equality gives a lot of progressives a reason to be excited about the prospect of four more years of an Obama administration, and that's very important. Simply being scared of what a Romney administration might bring isn't as strong a motivator, in my opinion. And having another positive reason to support Obama should help with fundraising.
Will it also motivate homophobes to vote against President Obama? Sure, some. But honestly, they were never going to vote for him in the first place, and I think the net result still tips in the President's favor.
So on the whole, I'm feeling pretty good about the outlook for LGBT rights and the upcoming presidential election. And it's about damn time.