Gay Marriage: Political Calculation and American Idealism (La Stampa, Italy)
Here we have a late arrival on the gay marriage issue from Italy, and I will admit to you, given all of the criticism that is directed at the United States, content like this makes me very proud of my country.
In this analysis from a people that gave us the Roman Republic and has seen every type of political controversy thousands of years before almost anyone but the Chinese, La Stampa columnist Gianni Riotta illustrates what must have gone into Obama’s decision to come out for same-sex marriage, and stands in awe of the American Republic, which through thick and thin, has struggled with the issue of how to guarantee the rights of all its people.
For La Stampa, Gianni Riotta writes in part:
The consent of gay marriage, long supported by the liberal base and with a passion by young people, raises the civil rights banner. At the same time, however, Obama delegates the responsibility to vote yes or no on non-heterosexual marriage to the individual states. Throughout American history, the dilemma of whether a right should be asserted on a federal level by Washington or by the single states has been a dramatic one. The 1861-1865 Civil War, which left more people dead that any other U.S. conflict, was sparked by a clash among the states over slavery. Lincoln was willing to leave slavery in force in the old American South. But controversy raged over the fate of slaves that had fled to the North, and the introduction of this odious practice into states coming into the union proved impossible to mediate. It took until the middle of the war for Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation, which deals with the subject of universal civil rights.
Obama’s political calculations are subtle and not without risk. He knows that Democratic activists will be galvanized and that the gay community contains some of his most generous donors. And by radicalizing the agenda, he depicts Republicans as extremist bigots, capable of dumping senior Senator Richard Lugar to elect conservative Murdoch, who is linked to populist Tea Party.
But Obama also knows that Latino and African-American voters, some of his most ardent supporters, are often hostile to gay marriage, not to mention Catholics and Evangelicals in rural communities who consider the idea anathema. According to “cyber” experts who analyze online data on social networks like Facebook, Google, Twitter, blogs and other sites, the 2012 presidential election will be decided on economic issues (export-import data and employment). So it would perhaps have been better not to be “historic” on issues less critical to the White House. Vice President Biden, a Catholic, announced a few days before Obama that he favors gay marriage, and analysts scoured the Web for “metadata” on the reaction. Shielded by this digital support, Obama decided to take to the field.
That is the political backdrop, and we will see in November whether Obama has properly interpreted the American mood through the Internet “metadata.” However, history books will record that in 2012, a president of the United States proclaimed the right to marriage for gay and lesbian citizens. For many Americans, this alone is a political victory. And for many others, it marks the end of a personal torment, a private injustice. Culture, religious beliefs, politics, business, school, family, welfare, the armed forces, all of American society will now walk the path opened up by Obama.
Whatever people in Europe may think, how fascinating is the charisma of a Republic that for two and a half centuries, through defeat and triumph, has pursued equality and the happiness of guaranteeing universal rights, before God and the law?
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