Thursday, May 28, 2009

Mr. Obama: "Equality Is a Moral Imperative"

Dear Readers, Friends and Fellow Pilgrims,

As my preceding two postings indicate, I'm having difficulty writing today. I wanted, though, to post at least a small note apologizing to anyone who might read this blog regularly, in hopes of finding, well, whatever I offer. (Though I also suspect some readers may well be relieved not to be offered one of my usual jibber-jabber posts talking about everything in the world.)

We've had an elderly friend with us for a week now, and it takes time and energy to respond to his needs. At nearly 95, he's a remarkable human being, with a sharp mind and fascinating stories to tell of a long, fulfilling life. But like anyone that far down the chronological journey of life, he does need attention. We're happy to provide it. One day, perhaps we'll be elderly, and how can we expect solicitude then if we don't give it to others now?

Also struggling with an ear infection causing tooth problems, and with the effects of the witches' brew of this and that the doctor has prescribed to help me overcome these problems. Thankfully, the medicines seem to have knocked the infection out.

Most of all, as my post earlier today indicates, I am downhearted--along with many other folks--at the California Supreme Court decision earlier this week. Though I anticipated it, it rubs salt into wounds that weren't healed in the first place. And the phrase "narrow and limited exception" cuts very deep.

It would have been better, it seems to me, for the court simply to say that its hands were tied by popular vote, but that its commitment to what it had said in its statement striking downs on gay marriage in California remained intact. I suspect that when the history of this period is written, Justice Moreno will receive well-warranted attention as a person of courage and conscience at a critical moment in the history of the struggle for rights in America. And the rest? Names that will be forgotten by historians, I fear.

I am also very downhearted about the president's choice to go to California on the heels of this state Supreme Court ruling, and to remain silent. I find this silence shameful. If it is true that Mr. Obama joked last night about a protester who asked him whether he intended to keep his promises to gay citizens , and that the crowd laughed (as I'm reading on many websites today) (see e.g. here and here and here), then I find his behavior all the more shameful, particularly when he wrote in Feb. 2008, about the struggle of gay citizens for rights, "Equality is a moral imperative."

Imperatives demand action. That's what the term means. Moral imperatives mean that we are obliged to act now, not later--if we want to retain the right to call ourselves moral agents.

In what shape, form, or fashion is the disingenuous phrase "narrow and limited exception" about equality? And if it is so clearly an assault on equality, how can one who believes that equality is a moral imperative remain silent, when that phrase is uttered?

Shameful, Mr. President. Shameful. Shameful silence. Shameful inaction in the face of human need that you have the power to address. Shameful avoidance of your call to be a leader.

Just shameful.

Update: some readers of Andrew Sullivan's blog have
written him to say that they think the president's humor at the Beverly Hilton fundraiser was a joke at his own expense, rather than a dismissal of those protesting the denial of rights to gays outside.

Perhaps. But if so, then this is one of the prices a leader has to pay, when he's completely silent about an important human rights debate occurring on his watch, and he has campaigned on a platform of respect for human rights.