Main | Sunday, May 24, 2009

Frank Rich: Why Is Obama Waiting?

New York Times columnist Frank Rich goes after the Obama administration again today in an essay about the march towards full LGBT rights.
Obama has long been, as he says, a fierce advocate for gay equality. The Windy City Times has reported that he initially endorsed legalizing same-sex marriage when running for the Illinois State Senate in 1996. The most common rationale for his current passivity is that his plate is too full. But the president has so far shown an impressive inclination both to multitask and to argue passionately for bedrock American principles when he wants to. Relegating fundamental constitutional rights to the bottom of the pile until some to-be-determined future seems like a shell game. As [Evan] Wolfson reminds us in his book “Why Marriage Matters,” Dr. King addressed such dawdling in 1963. “For years now I have heard the word ‘Wait,’ ” King wrote. “It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This ‘Wait’ has almost always meant ‘Never.’ ” The gay civil rights movement has fewer obstacles in its path than did Dr. King’s Herculean mission to overthrow the singular legacy of slavery. That makes it all the more shameful that it has fewer courageous allies in Washington than King did. If “American Idol” can sing out for change on Fox in prime time, it ill becomes Obama, of all presidents, to remain mute in the White House.
Rich opens his essay with a contemplation of the recent American Idol final, where, he contends, the nation would have easily accepted an openly gay winner in Adam Lambert. Lambert's success, he says, is yet another signal of the sea change in the way American youth see gay people and is a warning to the GOP that the continued fight against LGBT equality is already lost.

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