September 23, 2008
Barack Obama and Doug Kmiec
Politics are a balancing act: opposing viewpoints struggle for recognition and for dominance, and politicians work to find balance between ideals and electability. With that in mind, then, I can understand, intellectually, why, in spite of relatively progressive words spoken at the Democratic National Convention — “I know there are differences on same-sex marriage, but surely we can agree that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters deserve to visit the person they love in the hospital and to live lives free of discrimination” — Barack Obama would have someone like Doug Kmiec stumping for him on his “Faith, Family, and Values Tour.”
But understanding it intellectually doesn’t keep me from being frustrated by it.
As a Republican, I strongly wish to preserve traditional marriage not as a suspicion or denigration of my homosexual friends, but as recognition of the significance of the procreative family as a building block of society.
As a Republican, and as a Catholic, I believe life begins at conception, and it is important for every life to be given sustenance and encouragement.
As a Republican, I strongly believe that the Supreme Court of the United States must be fully dedicated to the rule of law, and to the employ of a consistent method of interpretation that keeps the Court within its limited judicial role.
As a Republican, I believe problems are best resolved closest to their source and that we should never arrogate to a higher level of government that which can be more effectively and efficiently resolved below.
As a Republican, and the constitutional lawyer, I believe religious freedom does not mean religious separation or mindless exclusion from the public square.
In spite of all that, he supports Obama. There’s something to that, to be sure — in order to be truly productive, it’s helpful for Presidents and Presidential candidates to appeal to both sides of the aisle. That said, though, I find the fact that this man is being used as an Obama surrogate on this tour troubling. He has been vocal in his support for California’s ballot proposition 8, which will ban same-sex marriage in that state. And while that is far from the only LBGTQ issue worth mentioning — where does he stand on DADT? What about hate crime and/or anti-discrimination legislation? — it is particularly visible at the moment, and so many people feel like Obama is shoving LBGTQ people under the bus. Again, it’s frustrating. As Deeky asks, “how am I supposed to reconcile Obama’s promise of lives free of discrimination, with his tapping of an anti-gay, anti-equality bigot as his messenger in the final days of the campaign?”
Furthermore, I wonder how much good this will actually do. If Michelle Obama is correct in her estimation that young people will have a significant impact on this election, then I’m not sure how effective someone with such traditional views as Kmiec’s will be in drumming up votes for Obama, considering that so much Obama’s appeal is in his message of change, and as a general rule each new generation is more progressive than the one that preceded it.
I guess we’ll see.