Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Ode to Obamalodon: A Case Study in Evolution

Transitional Obamalodon with half-formed musculature  

(On the inspiration for the title, see here.)

Barack Obama's "evolution" on gay marriage is well known and parts of it have been catalogued in a number of places. But I wanted to set out a comprehensive account for the record, including the most recent mutation from "it should be left up to the states" to "it shouldn't be left up to the states". The account is long and (for some may be) tedious, but such is often the case with these things. If you're quickly reading this post on your phone  and only have a few minutes before your date returns from her cigarette, here are the takeaways:
  1. On gay marriage, most people know that Obama was against it before he was for it. But fewer know that he was for it before he was against it before he was for it. The technical name for this is "evolutionary reversal." Among evolutionary biologists it is a recognized, though somewhat uncommon phenomenon.
  2. Many if not most politicians evolve on issues. Though, especially among Democrats the gay marriage issue has been a veritable laboratory in widespread and rapid evolutionary activity. However, Obama is notable, if not unique in repeatedly recognizing the evolutionary process as it was happening and indeed, in forecasting future evolutionary changes. Take a look at these gills, baby. I won't have them forever.
  3. Many Obama opponents see the evolution thing as a dodge. His current views were always his real views. He was secretly hiding his views until the time was right to reveal them, etc. I do not see it this way (and no, I'm not kidding or joking around on this one). I fully believe that Obama was in favor of gay marriage, then was against it, then was for it. He was for leaving it up to the states, then he was against that. As to why his views changed or why, say, his particular view at one instance might have been this rather than that, those are separate questions. But I think Obama's views simply are...whatever they are at the time. That's how he thinks. That's what views are to him. Of course, I don't find this laudable or re-assuring. Rather, I find it, well, fascistic. In large part, Obama's views at any one time are whatever he thinks they should be to most effectively strive for, attain or hold on to power. Or, to put it another way, they are what he believes will serve him best at maximizing his own power over others. I didn't vote for him, by the way. How did you guess?
  4. On this note, Obama may currently be in favor of gay marriage, but I believe if he thought it politically expedient, he would not only be against gay marriage (as he was when that was politically expedient) but would be in favor of criminalizing gay conduct and imposing harsh punishments on such. Off to the camps with them, if it came to that. What? You think that's unfair? Well, note that Obama is an intense supporter (to the point of ignoring all other considerations including traditional and obvious U.S. interests) of the Muslim Brotherhood--an outlawed hard-core Muslim group, whose stated aim is to impose full-blown Sharia law on the people of Egypt. Where is his liberal concern for gays (or anyone) in that case? (See the last two items, below).
Okay, so here goes. Gay marriage, Yes or No?

1996: Yes.
State Senate candidate questionnaire from Outlines--a Chicago gay newspaper:
I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages.
1998: Maybe.
Similar questionnaire from Outlines:
Do you favor legalizing same-sex marriage? Undecided. 
Would you support a bill to repeal Illinois legislation prohibiting same-sex marriage? Undecided. 
Would you co-sponsor such a bill? Undecided.
2004: No, but for strategic reasons.
Interview with Windy City Times:
I am a fierce supporter of domestic-partnership and civil-union laws. I am not a supporter of gay marriage as it has been thrown about, primarily just as a strategic issue. I think that marriage, in the minds of a lot of voters, has a religious connotation. ...What I'm saying is that strategically, I think we can get civil unions passed. … I think that to the extent that we can get the rights, I'm less concerned about the name. … Republicans are going to use a particular language that has all sorts of connotations in the broader culture as a wedge issue, to prevent us moving forward, in securing those rights, then I don't want to play their game.
2004: No, though yes to civil unions.
Interview with WTTW Chicago public television:
What I believe is that marriage is between a man and a woman. … What I believe, in my faith, is that a man and a woman, when they get married, are performing something before God, and it’s not simply the two persons who are meeting. … We have a set of traditions in place that, I think, need to be preserved. … I don’t think marriage is a civil right...but I also think we have to make sure that gays and lesbians have the same set of basic rights that are in place. And I was glad to see, for example, that the president today apparently stated that he was in favor of civil unions.
2006: No, but this may be because I am infected with society's prejudices.
From The Audacity of Hope:
I believe that American society can choose to carve out a special place for the union of a man and a woman as the unit of child rearing most common to every culture. …[But] it is my obligation not only as an elected official in a pluralistic society, but also as a Christian, to remain open to the possibility that my unwillingness to support gay marriage is misguided, just as I cannot claim infallibility in my support of abortion rights. I must admit that I may have been infected with society's prejudices and predilections and attributed them to God; that Jesus' call to love one another might demand a different conclusion; and that in years hence I may be seen as someone who was on the wrong side of history.
2007: No, though yes to civil unions.
Democratic Primary Debate sponsored by a gay rights group:
I would’ve supported and would continue to support a civil union that provides all the benefits that are available for a legally sanctioned marriage. And it is then, as I said, up to religious denominations to make a determination as to whether they want to recognize that as marriage or not.
2008: No, though yes to civil unions.
Interview with megachurch Pastor Rick Warren:
I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman. Now, for me as a Christian, it is also a sacred union. God's in the mix...I am not somebody who promotes same-sex marriage, but I do believe in civil unions.
2008: No, though (not quoted here) yes to civil unions and no to federal intervention either way.
Interview with MTV:
I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. I am not in favor of gay marriage.
2010: No, but I may be evolving.
Interview with a group of liberal bloggers:
I have been to this point unwilling to sign on to same-sex marriage primarily because of my understandings of the traditional definitions of marriage. But I also think you’re right that attitudes evolve, including mine.
2011: No. Never. But he may be evolving.
White House Press Secretary Dan Pfeiffer to Net Roots Nation activists:
The president has never favored same-sex marriage. He is against it. The country is evolving on this, and he is evolving on it.
2012: Yes, but it should be up to the states.
David Corn of Mother Jones, quoting an Administration source:
[President Obama] has always said that it is a state issue, and he's not suggesting changing that. He did not support the North Carolina amendment [against gay marriage], but he's not saying he will bring up a piece of federal legislation on gay marriage. This is how he feels himself about the issue, and he leaves it to the states.
2012: Yes, but it should be up to the states:
Interview on Good Morning America:
I think it is a mistake to — try to make what has traditionally been a state issue into a national issue.
2012: Yes, and if it is recognized in some states, that recognition cannot be denied by other states.
Same Interview:
Well, I — you know, my Justice Department has already — said that it is not gonna defend — the Defense Against Marriage Act [which attempted to block the decisions in some states from impacting the decisions of other states]; that we consider that a violation of [the] equal protection clause. And I agree with them on that. You know? I helped to prompt that — that move on the part of the Justice Department.
2012: Yes.
Same Interview:
At a certain point, I've just concluded that for me personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.
2015: Yes, and it should NOT be up to the states.
Rose Garden reaction to the Obergefell Supreme Court decision requiring states to recognize gay marriage:
And then sometimes there are days like this, when that slow steady effort is rewarded with justice that arrives like a thunderbolt,...When all Americans are treated as equal, we are all more free. Americans of good will continue to hold a wide range of views on this issue. For all our differences, we are one people — stronger together than we will ever be alone. That has always been our story. Today, we can say in no uncertain terms that we made our union a little more perfect.
2015: Yes, and rainbow.
The White House a few hours later:

Now, here's the Muslim angle.

2011-2015: No (and throw all the gays in jail).

The Obama Administration, to the anger and disdain of liberal Egyptians, supported the Muslim Brotherhood while it was on the path to turning Egypt into a full-blown authoritarian Islamic state. After the popular coup that ousted that organization and then outlawed it, the Administration has continued to express its support for the Brotherhood, holding meetings with key figures at the White House, among other things.

The stated aim of the Brotherhood has always been to create an Islamic state governed by Islamic Law or Sharia, a legal code that among other things, criminalizes and harshly punishes homosexual behavior. Though in initially gaining and attempting to consolidate political power, the Brotherhood was somewhat cagey on the explicit consequences of Sharia for gays as well as for other groups (mindful of Western opinion and the opinion of Egyptian "moderates"), here are a few hints of their views:

From an article on the 2011-12 elections, "Egypt Islamists 'use homophobia to win votes'":
The Muslim Brotherhood is "using homophobia and xenophobia to attract people's votes like they did before during the constitutional referendum and influenced people to vote 'yes'," according to Jennifer Josef from the international gay rights organisation ILGA. 
At a recent rally attended by about 25,000 people in Tanta, north of Cairo, Mohammed Badie, leader of the Muslim Brotherhood was reported to state that "it is not permissible for democracy to allow what is forbidden (haram) or forbid what is allowed (halal) even if the entire nation agreed to it." 
Mr Badie stressed that "the West has allowed gay marriage under the pretext of democracy, which we will never allow in Egypt..."
And here is a 2012 Foreign Policy Magazine interview with Dr. Mohammed Ghanem, the Brotherhood's spokesman in London:
FP: What is the Brotherhood’s position on gay rights? 
MG: We’ve never had a public issue on this particular problem. Most of the laws in Muslim countries consider it as illegal. Culturally, Muslims don’t like it. Legally speaking, I don’t think there have been any problematic cases. The people simply refuse it.

1 comment:

  1. I admire your patience. I can't stand to listen to this hypocrite any longer, nor read what he says about anything. George W Bush can't help but be grateful to Obama. The Chicago-four-flusher has managed to wipe totally from everyone's memory the embarrassing W years in the White House.