Thursday, May 10, 2012
Sadly, we have become a nation of smaller, less important issues. It’s a sign of impotence, of weakness, of a lack of leadership that should be realized within all of us individually and in our elected officials on our collective behalf. We can’t fix the big things, so we spend our time dancing around important, but lesser matters which, historically, will turn out to have been far less profound than we led ourselves to believe at the time. And in the meantime, the big problems we are neglecting are becoming increasingly severe.
Yesterday, President Obama came out in favor of same-sex marriage. Good for him. (If you sensed sarcasm, you’re a good reader.) It is, without question, a controversial concept that is very important, certainly to the gay and lesbian community, but also to some heterosexuals.
“Wait a minute, buster,” I can hear you asking. (Who calls anyone “buster” anymore?) “..Some heterosexuals? Some?! What about Tuesday’s primary in North Carolina where a constitutional amendment ‘to provide that marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State’ passed overwhelmingly, 61% in favor, 39% opposed?? What about that?!”
You know, you’re absolutely right. According to the North Carolina Board of Elections, a whopping 1,303,876 votes were cast for the amendment, 832,219 votes against it. It’s impressive, until you realize that only 34.38% of North Carolina’s 6,296,759 registered voters even bothered, even cared enough about the issue of same-sex marriage to show up. This is one time the other two-thirds of the North Carolina electorate, when the “No Shows” got it right. For these two-thirds, the issue of same-sex marriage wasn’t, an “issue” that is.
In the words of Paul Simon, the great singer-songwriter, “Orangutans are skeptical of changes in their cages.” Well, we all – orangutans included – need to get over it. Homosexuality is real, enduring and entirely benign. We need to stop quibbling and be more respectful, tolerant and appreciative of the differences among us. “Marriage” is only a word. Gays and lesbians, on the other hand, are people.
The President may be pandering to a specific voting block, having calculated the election year benefit to be greater than the votes he loses. Or maybe it’s a heartfelt belief he just wanted to put on the table. Either way, it’s good for the gay and lesbian community. Unfortunately, an endorsement by President Obama isn’t worth all that much and won’t have any real impact on what happens at dinner tables and in state legislatures around the country. As he put it when he expressed his newly realized clarity on the subject, “for me personally…” Not to be overly cynical, but I believe that’s politician-speak for, “I don’t really intend to do anything about it.”
What I do know is that the announcement is proof positive of the President’s (and Congress’) complete failure to effectively address the more critical economic, fiscal and the other more pressing issues of our time.
To me, same-sex marriage one of those issues that should never have come up. Love is good, but hard to find. How my neighbors, my countrymen and women find it is really none of my or your business. We need to just all get along.
More to the point, we need to laser-focus our attention on the really big problems we are facing. Same-sex marriage just isn’t one of them.
Every two years is a “Congress.” At the moment, we’re one year, four months into the 112th Congress of the United States. Round numbers, according to http://www.govtrack.us, our Congress introduces an unbelievable 10,000 pieces of legislation every two years. Most of these bills never get passed, never go anywhere. Congress is, of course, nothing more than a reflection of our own priorities as citizens, of the example we set by the concerns we deem most important and for whom, and even whether or not, we vote.
Pardon my language, but what in the hell are we doing? What’s gotten into us? I’ve used this analogy before, and I’ll use it again now. We’re seriously wounded. It’s recoverable. We can come back, but our condition is serious, even critical. What we need is triage to stop the bleeding, figuratively speaking of course, not cosmetic surgery.
Were it only the case that our reluctance to legalize same-sex marriage – which is blatant, unforgiveable discrimination against gays and lesbians – however reprehensible in my and history’s opinion, was the most important problem we are facing. Unfortunately, it’s not. Don’t believe me? Ask your family and friends on either side of the debate if they really think same-sex marriage is an issue up there with millions and millions of Americans unable to find work or jobs that are consistent with their skills and experience. Ask them if same-sex marriage and most of the other issues our President and Congress find time to address are as important as the trillions of dollars we’ve gone into debt and how, at whose expense, we’re going to pay that back. Go ahead, ask them.