Barack Obama | Election 2008 | Gay Marriage | News | Oregon

Barack Obama Criticizes Use of Gay Marriage as a Wedge Issue

Speaking to a crowd in Medford, Oregon last week, Barack Obama criticized the use of gay marriage as a wedge issue that distracts from the more important issues at hand.

Obama_oregon_3Said Obama: "The reason that we have to talk about and deal with these divisions is because we get distracted every political season and election cycle by these divisions. And then we end up ignoring these big problems. Think about what these last few election cycles have been about. We argue about immigration, but we don't try to solve the immigration problem. It's an argument that is all about people's passions instead of trying to figure it out. We argue about gay marriage. In the meantime the planet is...potentially being destroyed. We've got a war that is bankrupting us. And we're going to argue about gay marriage? (applause) I mean, that...doesn't make any sense."

Watch it, AFTER THE JUMP...

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  1. The more I see him, the more I love him. Don't you, Michael B. & NIC? Face Towleroad buddies, August will be Obama time! I don't why the stupid DNC moved the convention back to August. That means I've only got 2 months to work on Bedwell & NIC to come over to the Obama side.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Mar 24, 2008 3:26:48 PM

  2. Right, so we should just wait until a right time to discuss the whole gay marriage thing comes along, but it is never clear exactly when he'll want to discuss it, preferably after the election so he can pull a Clinton and sell us all down the river. A clever dodge, I guess.

    Posted by: Roscoe | Mar 24, 2008 3:33:50 PM

  3. Senator Obama, with all due respect, one of the reasons that "we argue about gay marriage" is that some folks whom you have asked to support your presidential bid -- people like Donnie McClurkin and James Meek -- strongly believe that gay marriage and gay people living their lives are the main reason that American society is going to hell in a handbasket.

    I'm glad that you have said that you disagree with their views, but the fact that you've sought their backing makes a lot of people wonder what you really believe, and what you would be willing to fight for when the chips are down.

    Posted by: Frank L | Mar 24, 2008 3:45:17 PM

  4. the funny thing about the gay marriage issue is that it was the republicans that made it a "wedge" issue to get their base out to vote. The gays didn't make a "wedge" issue.

    Posted by: Paul | Mar 24, 2008 3:45:47 PM

  5. Roscoe and FrankL make important points. I'm a realistic Obama supporter, and not a Hillary hater. But we've been down this road before when Bill courted us and made us feel all warm inside, and look what happened. The situation in Congress and in society in general is different now than it was in Bill's time, but that doesn't change the fact that the proof of the pudding is in the tasting. Obama should keep up the support, but will ultimately be judged by whether he believes it strongly enough to fight for it.

    Posted by: The Milkman | Mar 24, 2008 3:49:45 PM

  6. Wait. So what does having a passion for (or even against) gay marriage have to do with trying to figure out global warming? Why are these issues posed against each other. And why is a gay issue presented as the political equivalent to a punch-line here?

    Posted by: joe | Mar 24, 2008 3:57:47 PM

  7. Not to minimise the good things Obama has done, but when supposedly gay-friendly people respond to homophobes by saying the issue of gay equality "just isn't very important", my reaction is always "f*** you very much".

    Posted by: Sasha | Mar 24, 2008 4:01:14 PM

  8. Meanwhile, Obama gets his dick sucked in the back of another limo.

    Posted by: Johnny Lane | Mar 24, 2008 4:11:55 PM

  9. whiel I don't hate Hillary - I think America needs a MAJOR change - and O'Bama is IT! He's the best chance we have to gain equality over-all....20yrs of Bush,Clinton,Bush..and another Clinton...nahhhh..and Definitely NOT McCain! OBAMA is America's ONLY chance to make a move forward!

    Posted by: Rex | Mar 24, 2008 4:14:17 PM

  10. Our country is at war-- it's happening right now and is of immediate, urgent, life and death concern. Yet, Republicans would prefer to talk about same-sex marriage because that's what excites their voter base. People can get upset with what he said if they want, but it's basically true. You and I aren't dying because we can't get married. It's just the truth. Frankly, I appreciate someone breaking it down like that-- now maybe we can move past the same rhetoric we hear during every election and finally take care of stuff, INCLUDING legalizing marriage for same-sex couples

    Posted by: Jeff | Mar 24, 2008 4:25:40 PM

  11. Ah, feeding the multitudes again with crumbs. Where was Obama's concern about the use of gay marriage baiting to divide when his friend the Rev. James Meeks whom Obama told the "Chicago Sun Times" in 2004 "he seeks out for spiritual counsel" and who as State Sen. James Meeks refused to vote for Illinois' gay rights bill because giving us job and who has called being gay "an evil sickness"?

    Where was Obama's concern and influence when Meeks [who's done TV campaign ads for him; was on his Prez exploratory committee; hosted him for several sermons; prayed with him the night he won his US Senate primary] ran for governor on an anti gay marriage equality platform, vowing to fight it at every turn?


    Where was Obama's concern when Meeks was using his mega church to launch petition drives for the Illinois Family Institute that has praised Meeks for leading African Americans in "clearly understanding the threat of gay marriage"?

    Real concern, like charity, begins at home and among those closest to you. And there are few closer to Barack Obama than Rev. James "Hollywood Jews brought us 'Brokeback Mountain'" Meeks.

    Posted by: Michael Bedwell | Mar 24, 2008 4:33:10 PM

  12. Look it's about time someone went into the lion's den (Oregon has constantly had attempts to ban gay marriage constitutionally)and said precisely what Obama said. "these divisions are taking us away from the real dangers", and to have him say this in a state which, unlike say Massachusetts,is relatively conservative is a real achievement and dam risky for any democrat! So win or loose I have to say thank you Barack for Saying what you did!!

    Posted by: Alex | Mar 24, 2008 4:33:39 PM

  13. Look it's about time someone went into the lion's den (Oregon has constantly had attempts to ban gay marriage constitutionally)and said precisely what Obama said. "these divisions are taking us away from the real dangers", and to have him say this in a state which, unlike say Massachusetts,is relatively conservative is a real achievement and dam risky for any democrat! So win or loose I have to say thank you Barack for Saying what you did!!

    Posted by: Alex | Mar 24, 2008 4:35:55 PM

  14. There is clearly something wrong here. It has been developing so slowly that one can barely see or hear it.

    It has been happening since McClurkin. A continued embrace of people that are fundamentally opposed. With a gesture of a hand to wave it away. Not cute.

    Methinks it's trouble.

    Posted by: BR!ON | Mar 24, 2008 4:39:24 PM

  15. What he is saying is that marriage equality, or rather the lack thereof, is not a big deal. I wish someone would point out to him how members of the GLBT community are hurt by their inability to legally create a family of our choosing recognized by the state AND federal governments.

    Posted by: peterparker | Mar 24, 2008 4:41:23 PM

  16. Should read:

    "...who as State Sen. James Meeks refused to vote for Illinois' gay rights bill because giving us job would somehow lead to gay marriage and who has called being gay "an evil sickness"?

    Posted by: Michael Bedwell | Mar 24, 2008 4:42:30 PM

  17. Is Obama saying marriage in general is not important or gay marriage in particular is not important?

    To be sure, immigration and gay marriage are old warhorses of right-wing American politics--sure to galvanize a lot of conservative and MOTR panic, without seriously addressing any underlying problems of, say, for instance, injustice. Obama makes the point clearly enough in his first remark--raising passions about immigrants without seriously examining the underlying problems of the issue--how reprehensible.

    But then why doesn't he strike the same balance in his next remark? Of course, arguing about gay marriage looks like nonsense against the need to save the entire planet from being destroyed; but whether this is destruction by war, global warming, or gay marriage, he does not make clear.

    (And 50 years ago didn't waffling liberals claim that civil rights issues were a mere piffle compared to the threat of the atomic bomb and the global spread of communism?)

    Why doesn't he say, "We argue about gay marriage, but we don't try to solve the problem of gay inequality"? Wouldn't that have been the more reasonable balance to his preceding remark?

    But what if he did mean marriage in general is politically unimportant? Do you think the Oregonians who applauded his remark thought that was what he meant?

    Posted by: Joe | Mar 24, 2008 4:42:40 PM

  18. Michael:

    I don't think brave white southern politicians such as LBJ & Claude Pepper cut their ties with segregationist southerners during the Civil Rights Movement. Why would Obama cut his ties to anti-gay pastors? They still represent a major segment of his constituency. And what about the Reverend Wright: a pro-gay rights minister? The Republicans are demanding Obama cut ties with him. He hasn't. He won't. Barack's brave. So is Hillary, but she aint gettin' the nomination.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Mar 24, 2008 4:52:13 PM

  19. I'm disappointed in him.

    Posted by: Johnny | Mar 24, 2008 5:04:55 PM

  20. When did we ever get anything from straights?

    Try NEVER!

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Mar 24, 2008 5:11:44 PM

  21. I think many of you are missing his point. What he is saying is that all of the Republican posturing to ban gay marriage is being used as an effort to mask the real problems in our country: the war, the economy, school violence, hate crimes, poverty, health care, etc. Republicans know that President Bush hasn't done anything to help any of these issues. So by clouding the scenery by bringing up gay marriage they're essentially pretending these other problems don't exist.

    This is so true. Let's not do the same thing by losing this point in a haze of McClurkin and broken promises from Bill Clinton.

    Posted by: Larry | Mar 24, 2008 5:12:33 PM

  22. Wright is certainly more "pro-gay rights" than Meeks but he's also against marriage equality—not as aggressively as Meeks but the larger point is that Obama's pious pal Meeks is exactly the kind of person he's condemning in this speech but yet there is zip evidence he ever sat Little Jimmy [who gives major "gay face" in the video, BTW] down in private and said, "Look, it's time you stopped preaching hating the gays if you believe in me. You would not respect me if I was as close as I am to you to someone who demonized blacks the same way, who ran for governor to 'stop the blacks' so what the fuck?"

    Do NOT expect us to luv Obama's ass just because he's throwing more pretty words at us when he's had this homohating viper in his nest for so long. Actions speak louder than words and there's no evidence he has taken action against his bud. Is every week going to become another "Obama Explains Another Asshat Friend" week?


    Posted by: Michael Bedwell | Mar 24, 2008 5:16:12 PM

  23. Its about time someone spoke out on it, the gay marriage wedge issue has kept Bush in office for 8 years, and, many others at the state level who hate the glbt community and started these hateful initiatives to define "marriage' as if it can be done on a piece of paper. It was blacks under Bush Sr, gays under Jr, and, now its back to race and in some parts of the country immigration, always have to have a hateful, divisive message to win.

    Can any of these people stick with real issues when running for office, or when they sign that pact with the devil to run, they have to lie and pander to get votes???

    Derrick, you are still keeeping it real by living in the real world, good stuff as usual.

    Posted by: Sebastian | Mar 24, 2008 5:18:37 PM

  24. I was present for the version of this stump the night before in Eugene, Oregon. Barack said that it was ridiculous to blame immigrants and gays for the problems in this country as the GOP does every election cycle.

    Obama is the first politician I've seen that gets it. He says the things you think in your mind about these issues, because he speaks to Americans as adults.

    Posted by: oregonstudent | Mar 24, 2008 5:20:48 PM

  25. Oh yes, marriage equality is no big deal. We shouldn't let it distract us from the important things, because apparently my life and the life of upwards of 30 million other Americans isn't important at all, nor is their families', friends' or anyone else who cares about civil rights.

    The more I see and hear from Obama, the less I want him to be my President. I wish he'd just shush.

    Posted by: Ryan | Mar 24, 2008 5:25:42 PM

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