Thursday, August 12, 2010

Geoffrey Stone: How and Why Did Obama's Religious Views re: Same-Sex Marriage Change?

Geoffrey Stone about the change in Obama's views re: gay marriage from 1996 (pro) to 2008 (con):

Did Mr. Obama's religious beliefs change between 1996 and 2008? If so, I'd be curious to know how and why.

Me, too.  If we're having a crucial national conversation about this issue (and about the role of religion in determining civil law and public morality), surely the input of the president--honest, frank, well-articulated input--is important to that conversation.

What does the president believe? And why does he believe it?

In the 1960s, when the Civil Rights act was made the law of the land, I was expected to listen and respond.  I was invited by a shifting social consensus and by federal legislation to ask myself why my ancestors had so vehemently opposed the human rights of their African-American brothers and sisters, while citing the bible as their basis for this opposition.

I was invited--I was expected--to change how I did business, vis-a-vis racial matters, after Brown v. Topeka integrated public schools and the Civil Rights act abolished legal racial discrimination.  

And I'm extremely happy that I was given this opportunity early in life to think carefully about how religion can be illicitly and cruelly used to deny human rights to other human beings.  That formative moment in my life  changed everything.  From it flows my lifelong commitment to fighting for rights for every group that is denied rights, and to exposing the twisted, false claims that many religious bodies use to defend the denial of rights to oppressed minorities.

What frames this president's outlook on his gay brothers and sisters?  What has shaped his outlook?  How and when did he decide to repudiate his United Church of Christ's support for same-sex marriage?  As an African American, how does he justify the demand (a valid demand) of his own marginalized community for respect and rights, while ignoring a similar demand from another marginalized community?

We deserve to know.