December 16th, 2012


How Marriage Equality Won in 2012: Less Name Calling and More "Gays are People Too" (Also, Big Piles

On May 9, President Obama sat for an interview in the White House with the ABC News anchor Robin Roberts. Both of them knew what she'd been summoned there to discuss, and Roberts didn't waste any time. "So, Mr. President," she said, "are you still opposed to same-sex marriage?"

Obama was ready for the question. A few days before, Vice President Biden had said on Meet the Press that he was "comfortable" with men marrying men and women marrying women. The surprise statement went against the president's own ambiguous stance, which was that he was against gay marriage but in the process of "evolving." At the same time, evidence of the political risk inherent in the issue was abundant. The day before, May 8, voters in North Carolina -- a key swing state Obama narrowly won in 2008 -- had overwhelmingly voted to ban gay unions, making it the 31st state to take such a step.

Obama sat back in his leather chair, his legs crossed, his hands in his lap, composed and a bit detached. "Well, you know, I have to tell you, as I've said, I've been going through an evolution on this issue," he began, in his usual roundabout way. "I've always been adamant that gay and lesbian Americans should be treated fairly and equally." He pointed to his administration's repeal of the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy and its refusal to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court. He'd hesitated to embrace gay marriage, he said, out of respect for tradition and a belief that civil unions offered enough protection to same-sex partnerships.

But now the president had changed his mind. "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," he said.

The reasons for Obama's about-face, as he explained them, seemed perfectly normal. His thoughts, he said, had gone to his own staffers "who are in incredibly committed, monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together." He'd thought about the troops, fighting on his behalf, yet still facing the constraint of not being "able to commit themselves in a marriage." He talked about the values he wanted to pass on to his own children and the emphasis his own faith placed on the Golden Rule.

As natural as Obama's statement may have sounded, his words were as carefully chosen as the interview. The testimonial to the gay men and women in his life; the discussion of values and the Golden Rule; the remarkable fact that America's first black president, discussing an issue many see as a modern civil-rights struggle (with a black interviewer, no less), made no reference to civil rights -- these were all talking points straight out of the new playbook of the gay-rights movement.

The architect of this strategy was Evan Wolfson, a New York lawyer and gay-rights activist who heads a group called Freedom to Marry. Over the preceding months, Wolfson had briefed White House officials, including Valerie Jarrett -- the close Obama adviser often seen, for better and worse, as the president's liberal conscience -- on the findings of the group's years of research, findings that showed the most persuasive way of talking about gay marriage.

And while Obama's reversal was instantly hailed as a watershed moment, behind the scenes, Wolfson and his allies were already well on their way to fulfilling an even grander ambition. Gratified to have finally lured the president to their side, the activists were quietly working to bring voters on board, too. Though gay marriage was already legal in six states and Washington, D.C., it had been granted each time by judicial fiat or legislative action -- voters had never yet endorsed same-sex marriage at the polls.

That all changed on Election Day.

On November 6, four states -- Maine, Washington, Maryland, and Minnesota -- took the side of gay marriage in ballot referenda. The improbable sweep for an issue that spent decades as an across-the-board political loser has already changed the landscape for gay rights in America -- and could provide a new framework for other causes: The leaders of other social movements, such as the campaign for gun control, are already studying the methods behind the gay-marriage campaigners' victory.

This is the exclusive story of that victory, based on reporting that began more than a month before Election Day; dozens of interviews; and access to scores of internal communications.
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Read the rest at the source: The Marriage Plot: Inside This Year's Epic Campaign for Gay Equality
Allison Harvard <3

Of Heroes and Hype: Mass Murder and the Absurdity of the ‘More Guns’ Crowd

By Tim Wise

As information continues to come in from Newtown, Connecticut — the scene of America’s latest mass killing, this time at an elementary school — there will be much said (and hopefully more to be done) in this nation and culture to diminish the likelihood of such tragedies occurring in the future.

But among the least fortunate, most absurd commentary, will no doubt be the cacophony blaring from the throats of conservative gun-fanatics, who will insist — as they always do in times like this — that if more people were allowed to carry guns openly on their person, tragedies such as the one in Newtown could have been prevented. Indeed, the rush to blame liberals and gun control advocates for essentially disarming teachers and others who, naturally, could have saved all those lives has already begun. Larry Pratt, of Gun Owners of America has intoned, for instance, that “Gun control supporters have the blood of little children on their hands.” Actually, of course, a gun owner — or rather, the son of a gun owner, represented, in effect, by Larry Pratt — has blood on his hands. The blood of 28 people; but never should one let the facts get in the way of a good lobbying volley, I suppose.

The idea that more guns, in the hands of more people, and the elimination of “gun free zones” at schools and elsewhere would reduce the likelihood of mass shootings — since would-be shooters would rationally fear being stopped by a skilled marksman and thus wouldn’t risk launching a killing spree (or even if they did they would be stopped before their carnage was completed) — is illogical on multiple levels. That the ridiculousness of the position really needs to be spelled out only attests to the fantasy-world-like mental simplicity of the gun crowd, but in any event, here it is.

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Time Wise's blog
Scientist Salarian :: Mordin Solus

I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother

I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother

By Liza Long

Three days before 20-year-old Adam Lanza killed his mother, then opened fire on a classroom full of Connecticut kindergartners, my 13-year-old son Michael (name changed) missed his bus because he was wearing the wrong color pants.

"I can wear these pants," he said, his tone increasingly belligerent, the black-hole pupils of his eyes swallowing the blue irises.

"They are navy blue," I told him. "Your school's dress code says black or khaki pants only."

"They told me I could wear these," he insisted. "You're a stupid bitch. I can wear whatever pants I want to. This is America. I have rights!"

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'These tragedies must end'

NEWTOWN, Conn. -- A mournful President Barack Obama said Sunday that the nation is failing to keep its children safe, pledging that change must come after an elementary-school massacre left 20 children dead.

"What choice do we have?" Obama said. "Are we really prepared to say that we're powerless in the face of such carnage, that the politics are too hard?"

In a vigil for the fallen, in a moment of grief that spread around the world, Obama conceded that none of his words would match the sorrow. But he declared to the community of Newtown: "You are not alone."

For Obama, ending his fourth year in office, it was another sorrowful visit to another community in disbelief. It is the job of the president to be there, to listen and console, to offer help even when the only thing within his grasp is a hug.

The massacre of 26 children and adults at Sandy Hook Elementary on Friday elicited horror around the world, soul-searching in the United States, fresh political debate about gun control and questions about the incomprehensible – what drove the suspect to act.

Privately, Obama told Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy that Friday was the most difficult day of his presidency.

By Jim Kuhnhenn 12/16/12 09:03 PM ET EST AP

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