Checkmate: Same-Sex Marriage Advocates Now in the Game

Since the endorsement by our President of same-sex marriage I have heard some of the most frustrating, and mind numbing arguments.  Honestly, between this issue and the attachment parenting article in Time Magazine, I’ve almost completely checked out of social media.  Everyone has an opinion and wants to make sure that it is not only heard but known to be right though most of them (on both sides) are unintelligible.  This changed a few days ago when I was redirected to yet another article concerning this subject.  This article [finally] looks at this from a unique perspective and shines a light that will [hopefully] get both sides of this debate thinking.

Many are debating the moral and social obligations of the Black church in the wake of President Obama’s recent endorsement of same-sex marriage. The details of what should be the appropriate reaction of the media-crafted monolithic “Black-church vote” are being hotly debated, and well they should be; this is good political discourse. However the limited focus of these debates seems to ignore a much larger picture.

Many wonder about the timing of this announcement. Some have pointed out that it was all too conveniently issued on the eve of Obama’s $40,000 per plate re-election fundraiser among the super rich who might favor such a move.I believe this timing touches on the fringes of the picture we see, yet to gain better perspective we must first reflect on the 2008 election. In the months following Barack Obama’s announcement of his candidacy, Hillary Clinton – with the anointing of the Democratic establishment – was well on her way to being “in it to win it.”

Then we saw a great reversal at the Iowa caucuses, transforming Obama from a Black candidate driven by politics to a mainstream candidate driven by a movement. This caused a convergence of multitude paradigm-shifting factors, resulting in a tipping point. Even African American Democrats who favored Hilary experienced this paradigm shift – a shift that was completed with the South Carolina primary. The rest is history.

A cultural movement will always trump politics when they go head to head; this is culture vs. politics. The “marriage equality” advocates seem to have learned this lesson, but those who advocate for traditional marriage are, like a needle on a record, stuck in the groove of an ineffectual political approach.

With Obama’s recent endorsement as we approach the 2012 election, it seems that the order of the day will be politics vs. politics. This time, there is no euphoric movement on the horizon. In this light we can understand Obama’s pronouncement as a matter of political calculation.

I am mystified by the shocked reactions emerging from various quarters, since as early as 1996 Barack Obamais documented as stating,

“I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages.”

As the dates add up, his talk of “evolving” now seems a ruse.

Without a movement to ride, perhaps Obama felt the need to assemble a winning coalition. He took for granted the Black vote, in spite of their traditional opposition to same-sex marriage. Given the alternatives, perhaps he reasoned that Black folks would “get over it” and still choose him. After all, why buy the cow if you can get the milk for free? Likewise, he counts on the liberal/left vote. It seems to me that this well-timed endorsement of same-sex marriage was aimed at shoring up the enthusiastic support of the LGBT community, with its considerable wealth and clout – a community that was beginning to show signs of antipathy towards him.

In my perspective, same-sex marriage is not the ultimate issue. What disturbs me more is that today’s politicians and judicial activists presume that they can redefine stabilizing institutions that have survived for millennia merely for the sake of short-term gain. Their hubris is rooted in the notion that they are wiser than all the generations that have preceded us. It is this calculated approach that will “fundamentally transform” this nation from a government of laws into a government of men. In such a society, power is applied according to the impulses of flawed leadership. The winds may blow in your favor today, but tomorrow they may tragically reverse, with no recourse.

If our institutions can be redefined at whim for political gain, it makes us all – Black, White, gay, straight, liberal, conservative, or what have you – into pawns in a game in which there are no rules.

You wanted equality, same-sex advocates? Congratulations. You are now a vulnerable piece on the chessboard – just like the rest of us.

I would love your thoughts…

Dr. Carl Ellis Jr. is a cultural analyst, theological anthropologist, minister, husband, father, son and world traveler.  If you would like to read more from him please checkout his blog at


About Jon Nelson

I am just a nobody trying to tell everybody about Somebody [Christ Jesus]!

Posted on May 15, 2012, in Guest, Politics and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. Did you get this from my twitter feed? I think I tweeted it the other day.

    • It was either you or a one other person, I could not remember, but since you were the 1st to claim it I’ll say it was yours. Thanks for the redirect, I absolutely love his blog!

  2. This issue of same sex marriage is so multilayered that it becomes an argument in rhetoric. I think that for many Christian there is that line that seem unapproachable to have an intelligent conversation this without being condemned by the LGBT community or the mainstream Christian culture. For myself, I have few reservations with the expansion of rights for the gay and lesbian community (I believe in the possibility of civil unions) but I am not supportive of the President’s attempt to blindly giving such overwhelming impressions that gay “marriage” is the correct road to go down. It is the sexy issue of this election and Obama has been all about hitching his wagon to singular issues that has public appeal. The word marriage is thrown around and little thought is put into what that means. What is frustrating for me as an open minded Christian is that I feel bullied by the LGBT community. There is not a relevant conversation on finding a real solution but rather a minority group that often perpetrates the same hatred and anger they are wanting to fight against. But as a open minded Christian I also have a firm belief that this a democracy, a republic, and because of that I believe the the government needs to listen to the populous and not force the sexy issue of same sex marriage upon the people. Many try to connect the LGBT fight for rights to that of the black movement of the 1950’s and 60’s. This is a poor parallel since the individual rights of the LGBT are not under attack in the same way. America is far more accepting than in its past.

    By the way, what happened to the health care issue from the last election. . . it is still not resolved. This is the danger of forcing an issue rather than working through it.

    • I apologize in advance for the bluntness in expressing my rebuttal, but I feel strongly about this issue, and the frustration I feel is born of that.

      As an open-minded Christian myself, I am proud to be able to say that even though homosexual relationships are not my cup of tea, it would be presumptuous and reprehensible of me to deny that they are any less valid than heterosexual relationships. When you put the word marriage in quotations after the word gay, you are sending an entirely unsubtle message that you DO consider it less valid, and I begin to wonder if you know what the phrase “open-minded” means. The idea that two people who love each other want the same recognition under law as I would have if I were married, genitals notwithstanding, seems entirely reasonable to me. The concept of marriage does not “belong” to anyone. It is the height of hubris to claim otherwise.

      You say that you feel bullied by the gay community. I say, “Oh, poor you.” You’re echoing the sentiments of every single majority population who has ever been faced with an oppressed minority that dares to speak out against injustice. Of course there are people within the community who can’t express their views with maturity. Largely, though, their fight has been conducted with surprising dignity and patience. Considering the discrimination they face, I’d say their anger and frustration is fully justified. It is born of gross injustice being heaped against them, and I dare say you would feel exactly the same way if you were faced with something similar. *I* am angry and frustrated by it, and I have only the most tenuous personal connections to it. (I know, but am not close with, several gay people. I’d like to see them happy, but I don’t feel like I have any real, personal stake in the situation).

      You claim that there is not a relevant conversation being conducted to find a “real solution”. There is. There is a large group of people asking that the government recognize their equality under law. That is entirely relevant. That is entirely understandable.

      As for the government “forcing” the “sexy” idea of homosexual equality on the people…geez, where do I begin? What’s “sexy” about it? How it being forced on you, personally? How could it have any effect on you if they are given the same recognition you enjoy? The goal here is not to make religious institutions recognize gay marriage if they don’t want to. That would be unconstitutional and tragically un-American. The goal is to ensure that laws recognize them as equally valid. If religious institutions wish to forbid same-sex marriage, then have at it. They just shouldn’t force that view on everybody else.

      If the government decided tomorrow to amend the Constitution to ensure marriage equality, there would be essentially zero impact on people like you, Jon and me. Our lives would continue just as they were yesterday. Your marriages, and any potential marriage I might enjoy in the future would be totally and completely unchanged. The one, singular difference in the world would be that millions of US citizens that you’ve never met will be allowed to do something we have taken for granted all our lives.

  3. I fail to see how the timing of an announcement makes a sitting President’s position on support of Equal Rights any less important or historical. So what if the timing was calculated? It was still the right thing to do, and it was still the first time he, while in office as the head of our country, has taken a firm, no BS stance on the issue. In the face of the rampant bigotry mounted against the gay community, it was a bold thing to do. I cannot criticize him for trying to benefit from it politically.

    The fight for Equal Rights for women and blacks in this country transcended both “cultural” and “political” viewpoints. They were far more fundamental that either of those labels. We correctly look back with shame at the opposition to both, because it was vile. There is absolutely no difference between those battles and this one. The battles will be fought in both political and cultural arenas, but the issue itself is part of the same bedrock of basic human rights that founded the other movements for equality.

    Racism, sexism, and homophobia all share the same basis in ignorance and what seems to be a deeply ingrained instinct in humans to crush and subjugate. The sentiments will not die easily. Though the legal battles have seen great victories over the first two failures of decency and compassion, there is still an ugly current of hate flowing in our society. It is lessening gradually, though. I doubt any of us will be fortunate enough to live to see the day when it is finally exiled to the lunatic fringes of society, but I can take some comfort in the fact that I can help to hasten that day a bit by supporting the groups on the receiving end of oppression and baseless hate.

    • Paul,
      Wow, thanks for the passion and clarity of thought. Although I may not agree on some points, unlike many of the responses on either side yours was clear and well put together and for that thank you. In response I’d love to give you and anyone else reading some food for thought. Dr. Ellis said at the end of this post,

      If our institutions can be redefined at whim for political gain, it makes us all – Black, White, gay, straight, liberal, conservative, or what have you – into pawns in a game in which there are no rules.
      You wanted equality, same-sex advocates? Congratulations. You are now a vulnerable piece on the chessboard – just like the rest of us.

      Like him I am a African American (AA) who is a Christ follower and I understand this all to well. AA’s were once a influential voice/force in the Democratic party as well the so called “Christian right” being a influential voice/force in the Republican party. If you want a good look at how either party has responded to those groups look no further that the last few elections. With the exception of the election of our current President, both groups are largely assumed to (and largely do) vote one way without fail and increasingly they and the issues that they care about are being ignored.
      Why? Because they were willing to use politics/ legislation to solve a [perceived] social problem. I will tell you from a historical perspective the timing matters, the intent matters, the means to the end matters, and the casualties of civil discourse and discussion are being lost for an expedient gain. If that is what is wanted then congratulations LGBT community and welcome to the game in which you have no control but a “piece on the chessboard – just like the rest of us.”

      • All groups have always been pieces on a chessboard as far as politics is concerned. The one difference that I can see right now is that the particular piece in play at the moment is the gay equality piece. And yes, that’s what the gay community and its supporters want: to be in play.

        Nobody is trying to legislate the way individuals or groups feel about the issue. If you’re opposed to gay marriage, fine. If your church is opposed, fine. I would not dream of forcing a private organization to alter its views with law. A law protecting same-sex marriage would not redefine the concept of marriage for you or for your (or anyone else’s) religion. It would not force you to quit spreading your message about it and trying to convince people that it is wrong. It would, however, prevent you from FORCING your definition/opinion on people who have absolutely nothing to do with you, and never will.

        I’m wondering what you mean when you say civil discourse is being sacrificed for political gain. I can’t see any example of this happening here. I am, in fact, surprised that people seem to think this is a clear-cut gain for the Obama at all. He’ll have destroyed support as much as gained it. The issue came to the forefront of public attention and was addressed in a shockingly (for a politician) direct manner. No matter what his opinion on the issue turned out to be, I would say that knowing about it is a victory for civil discourse. Is it not better to know of it BEFORE the election, whatever your views may be? I was shocked at (but pleased with) his honesty at such a politically sensitive time. If he’d landed on the other side of the issue, I’d have been just as shocked (but disappointed). Either way, I’d have been glad that he was expressing his views clearly.

      • I too am so excited that our President has expressed his views on this subject because I love when people are clear with they actually believe.
        What I mean when I say,

        rom a historical perspective the timing matters, the intent matters, the means to the end matters, and the casualties of civil discourse and discussion are being lost for an expedient gain.

        is this.

        When you look historically at AA and the Christian right (CR) and their respective [positive] influence on our culture you see that they function more as marionettes than actually influencers. Here’s what I mean, every election the Democrats say, “the man” or “Racism” and we AA’s stand up/ shout and blindly vote. Likewise the Republicans say “Military” and/or “Abortions” and the CR’s stand up/ shout and blindly vote. The problem comes when the rubber meets the road nothing is actually done about any of these subject whether they are real or not. This is the issue that the gay community (GC) is now apart of. I agree that “all groups have always been pieces on a chessboard as far as politics is concerned” but not all pieces need/ want to be played.
        This experiment we call the United States is amazing in so many ways but one of the most amazing is this idea of civil discourse that eventually drive the growth of this nation. Many times (not all time) when lawmakers prematurely step in we squelch the conversation thus sending it underground to fester and become worse, not on the surface, because as a society it is now not accepted but just below the surface. A great example of this is racism as the here in KC we just desegregated our schools in the 90’s (cf. Missouri v. Jenkins). This is still a pervasive problem that has reared its ugly head even more during this Presidency, yet because of the politics involved we can no [unfortunately] longer have the conversation in this country (cf. Trayvon Martin).
        Though you and I do not agree on this subject this conversation is needed. What we are doing here is good and appropriate but to kill this conversation or to [legislatively] “exiled [opinions and ideas] to the lunatic fringes of society” is a shame. I truly do not think that the GC want to used but to be actually heard. I agree the the sentiments of Todd that we are to approach this subject in love not vitriol but this can not happen without a actual conversation.

  4. I think Life is so much simpler when following the Bible.

    • Jenn,
      I’m sorry I had to edit your comments but they were not helpful to the conversation. Furthermore, I agree with your sentiment that life would be so much easier if we just lived by the Bible but we live in a society that is immediately hostile to the Bible, Christ and the church on many subjects, this being one of them.

  5. Thanks for bringing this up Jon and thanks to all that have commented on this. This is an issue that is near to my heart for many reasons. First, I know and am very close with a gay couple. Knowing them as well as my wife and I do, we have learned that they are very secure in there relationship. They do not need a social or civil titles to define them, their relationship or there love or each other. I have full confidence they will love each other and grow old together whether or not they are ever “married.” Along with that, they are highly annoyed by the flamboyance and offensiveness of many within the gay rights movement. Much like, as a Christian, I am offended by some so-called Christians who detest any people who donot share their views.
    That brings me to my second point. Christians should focus on themselves first. With around one half of all “Christian” marriages failing we don’t have the right to ‘define’ marriage. But, God does. As a Christian man my greatest responsibly is to love God, love my wife, my kids and then others. Many Christian men have these priorities out of order or below other things that should not take precedent. No where in there am I charged by God to speak against homosexuals. But we are charged to love as Christ loves. This is something my wife and I can honestly say we do with our gay friends. They know we do not support homosexuality, but it is not an impediment on our friendship. In our Christ minded world view their sin of homosexuality is no worse than when I get angry or when my brother gets drunk or when my co worker gets his girlfriend pregnant. We are all in the same boat and we love them all the same. All that rambling to say, some Christians have lost sight of there mission to love others.
    I agree with some though that Obama may be using the LGBT to gain votes now. For the last few years now Obama has been been largely ignoring them, and will likely ignore them again if he gains there votes and is elected. Politicians have become driven by temporary values on long term issues.
    I don’t know that I offer anything reasonable or unique to this discussion, but I do hope it can generate thought for some of you. I have been intellectually challenged by many views on this issue, so hopefully someone can be challeng by what I share. Again, thanks Jon for sharing your thoughts and hosting this discussion.

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