Windows and Doors

Windows and Doors


Obama Ends DADT, Opposes Gay Marriage

posted by Brad Hirschfield

After affixing his signature to the repeal of the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy which barred openly gay men and lesbians from serving in the military, President Obama admitted that he still opposes same-sex marriages. Saying that his “feelings (about the issue) are constantly evolving,” the president admitted this apparent contradiction in his convictions, remarking that he struggled with the duality in his positions.
Some will certainly see President Obama not as struggling, but as hypocritical. They will challenge his words about evolving feelings as evasive psychobabble designed to mollify both sides in the nation’s ongoing debate about same-sex marriage. They would be wrong.
After 10 long years of debate, something amazing happened this week. Not only was DADT consigned to the dustbin of history, it was done by a nation the vast majority of whose citizens were happy to see it go. Even the majority of those on active military duty say that they are pleased with the repeal of DADT.
Those were not the percentages 10 years ago, or even five years ago. Those numbers reflect a long process of struggling with complex and competing convictions, a struggle in which hundreds of millions of American participated. And allowing that process to unfold, to evolve, was critical to its success.


Along the way to this new consensus about the inappropriateness of DADT, many people held on to contradictory views about gay people, military service and the meaning of equal rights for all Americans. Like the president, Americans’ thinking needed time to evolve, to grow naturally to where it is now. And because that was the process we followed, we not only have a better policy this week than last, we stand largely united behind it.
I suspect that is exactly what will happen with same-sex marriage – as long as ideological purists don’t force a confrontation which short-circuits people’s intellectual-ethical-moral-spiritual evolutionary processes. The history of this nation is one of expanding options and possibilities for all people, so while nobody can know for sure, that is likely to be the case with same-sex marriage. The only real question is how we get there.
Will we arrive at some new legal reality, battered and bruised by yet further needless battles in the culture wars? Or, taking a lead from the president, could we allow ourselves the inconsistencies and dualities which make up all of our lives to slowly evolve to more coherent and consistent conclusions?
To struggle respectfully and to evolve over time, that is how the most durable cultural shifts occur, at least the most beneficial ones. I appreciate that the approach I am describing does not come cheap. Generations of servicemen and servicewomen were hurt by our previous approach to gay and lesbian members of the military. Had the change occurred sooner, some portion of them would have been spared.
I also know that for hundreds of thousands of gay men and women, denying them a marriage is a source of incredible pain. So I do not advocate for evolution over revolution casually. But revolution also creates enormous pain and suffering. It too causes casualties, and simply because I feel sure about which side is right, I dare not take those casualties any more lightly.
Cultures evolve. Attitudes toward marriage evolve. Religion and their attitudes to marriage also evolve. Uncertain about these three claims? Imagine suggesting to someone 500 years ago that all people were equal, regardless of race? Imagine suggesting to the most pious of Christian or Jewish men 1000 years ago that they limit themselves to one wife? I could go on, but you get the point.
There is no obviously and clearly correct way to define family or marriage, even for the most culturally conservative of traditions. There is however a way of allowing those traditions the time and space to figure out how to move forward without experiencing it as betrayal of their past. And while 500 or 1000 years is too slow, it seems that we learned this week that 10 years may be just about right.
I am proud of the president for sharing the complexity of his convictions, for reminding us that nuance is not the same as lack of commitment, and for challenging us all to wrestle with the conclusions upon which we base our own lives, when those same convictions may be limiting or actually harming the lives of others. Wherever that process leads us tomorrow, it will be better than today and we will be able to get there together. Not a bad thing for either a president or a nation to celebrate.



  • romanscapegoat

    the republican fundamentals is to always protect the banks and corporations from regulation…the republicans in office need the not rich American vote to stay in office….the republicans in office create useless drama to distract the ignorant not rich republican voters, from the republicans in office true agenda, which is leave Americans on their own to defend themselves from unregulated greed, from the banks and corporations…the useless drama the republicans create is, gays playing with each others buttholes, Muslims who are going to kill you at anytime, abortion, FREEDOM AND APPLE PIE… OF COURSE OBAMA CANT AGREE WITH GAY MARRIAGE, OBAMA IS FORCED TO PLAY POLITICS TO REGAIN CONTROL OF THE WHITEHOUSE, TO ONCE AGAIN CONVINCE THE IGNORANT NOT RICH REPUBLICAN VOTERS TO STOP VOTING AGAINST THEIR OWN BENEFIT…

  • Marta

    I have been having lots of conversations with various people of faith since the DADT repeal. Mostly Christians and as a Chritian, since I teach at a Catholic university and grew up in the Christian Protestant church, but I suspect that other Abrahamic faiths face similar issues. It is very good to think about these issues and I am proud of our president for admitting that he is conflicted.
    I do not mind evolution, as long as actual change is happening. As long as people really are pressuring themselves to grow spiritually and every other way. What I fear is that the vast majority of people are too swept up in their every-day lives to really care about issues and think them over. I know that it sometimes takes time for the heart to catch up with the mind, and even for the mind to sift through all the arguments.
    One way I think we can encourage this evolution is to have real dialogue. In the aftermath of the DADT repeal, I asked the question on my blog: does it make sense to say that (i) religious marriage was important (i.e. a marriage needed God’s imprimatur); (ii) homosexuals could have secular marriages; and (iii) homosexuals could not have religious marriages, as many people at least in the Christian community are doing? Because it seems to me that there is an inherent tension in this, and the take-away message is that there is something holy and good which homosexuals can’t have access to. I like to think that by asking these questions, the people who read my blog (and I don’t claim a great readership!) may start thinking about questions like what we mean by marriage, what makes a relationship good, and so on.
    So keep talking, Rabbi! These are good questions to ask, and I’m glad to see your thoughts.

  • romanscapegoat

    here is an example of how the Jew owned media is using their Jew control polls to keep the economy down, to guarantee Obama doesn’t regain control of the white house again, only to regulated the banks and corporations to give Americans a better quality of life…consumers spent a lot of money at thanksgiving and spent so much money this Christmas, it was an all time record…the nightly news today, which is 3 days after Christmas reports a survey was taken and consumer confidence is now going down as the new year starts…the Jews are programming Americans how to think…all major banks in America are Jew owned and are deliberately keeping the economy down until Obama is out for good…and everyone in the white house knows this…god bless America…America is the greatest country in the world…

  • http://ThusSayethMe.com Dr. Paul K. Fauteck

    Romanscapegoat, were they late with your Thorazine today? America has enough real problems without your paranoid delusions about Jews owning and controlling everything. Yes, the mega-rich have too much power and too much of the nation’s wealth, but no, the majority are not Jews. Judaism and Jewish culture encourage learning, hard work, and preparing for the future. That formula works pretty well regardless of your religion. One of the wealthiest patients I ever had was a Christian black man who built a successful company starting in his mother’s basement.
    If we can get back on topic, Rabbi Hirschfield, I believe you are on target here. At any given point in my life, I thought my attitudes in this area were the logical ones. People whose views were more liberal were thinking recklessly, and more conservative folks were just stubbornly traditional. I now see homosexuality and related issues, even transgenderism, 180 degrees differenty from fifty years ago. In fact, my profession as a whole has undergone the same evolution of attitude.
    Now that my thinking is finally 100% right, I really wish everyone else would catch up quickly!

  • romanscapegoat

    Dr.denial…all Hollywood is controlled by Jews…Americans love to watch TV…everything that’s on TV is controlled by the Jews…all media outlets are owned by the Jews…the Jews decide what news is…there is no such thing as liberal media…the Jewish owned media makes billions a year and needs republican laws to protect their profit…the recession caused banks to close down…now there are only 6 major banks that control America that need to be unregulated to create maximum profit…and yes these banks are Jew owned…according to jon jew stewart, there are only 9 major banks that control the world, and yes they are Jew owned…how can a small race of people continuously take over everything throughout history…the Jews have been giving power of the world, by Lucifer for killing their messiah…the Jews have made israel into Disneyland to achieve maximum profit…GOD IS PISSED ONCE AGAIN AT THE JEWS, AND WILL ALLOW THE SPACE PEOPLE TO PUNISH THEM….THE SPACE ALIENS ARE REALLY LUCIFER AND HIS FALLEN ANGALS WHO WALK WITH THE JEWS…

  • Grumpy Old Person

    “And while 500 or 1000 years is too slow, it seems that we learned this week that 10 years may be just about right.”
    I disagree that it should take that long, but DADT was passed in 1993 (17 years) and DOMA was passed in 1996. That’s already 14 years, so America is well overdue to catchup to justice, even according to your proposed timeline.

  • Grumpy Old Person

    Marta,
    Maybe I am mis-reading your comment, but here’s my reactions:
    “I asked the question on my blog: does it make sense to say that (i) religious marriage was important (i.e. a marriage needed God’s imprimatur);”
    Why the use of the past tense? Religious marriage is STILL “important” – to many religious people, some of whom are actually gay. I was married in 2004 in my Church. For the religious, they want “God’s imprimatur”. But hether a marriage ceremony is a religious one or a civil marriage, it is the Government’s imprimatur that is needed. ALL people, gay or straight, should be treated equally before the (secular) law. The non-religious neither need nor want “God’s imprimatur”. They are two separate groups, but the secular rights, benefits and obligations of marriage should/must be given to ALL citizens regardless of sexual OR religious orientation. So no, that doesn’t “make sense”.
    “(ii) homosexuals could have secular marriages;”
    They already can – and have been able to – since 2003 in Massachusetts. So that doesn’t “make sense” either.
    “and (iii) homosexuals could not have religious marriages, as many people at least in the Christian community are doing?”
    That doesn’t “make sense” either. As already explained, homosexuals CAN and DO have religious marriages, both “Christian” and other. The United Church, the Universalist/Unitarians, heck, even the Quakers perform same-gender marriages. And, of course, there’s the Metropolitan Community Churches. Plus, Anglicans, Presbyterians, Methodists, etc. – most Christian churches are at least having this discussion, and they are NOT all of one accord on (against) the issue. Heck, I’ve even found Pentecostal Chruches that perform them. Both the Reformed and the (ahem) Conservative branches of Judaism perform them. So again, I come to the conclusion that this doesn’t “make sense” either.
    “Because it seems to me that there is an inherent tension in this, and the take-away message is that there is something holy and good which homosexuals can’t have access to.”
    Say what? I’m not sure how you arrive at that “take away” since it is observably (ergo, demonstrably) false.
    Sorry, but God doesn’t have step-children.

  • Grumpy Old Person

    I know little about Scientology, but are these the imaginary “space people” that inhabit roman’s head?

  • romanscapegoat

    grumpy gumby…the Jews will claim their messiah has finally come…their messiah they choose will be the leader of the space aliens…the space aliens are really Lucifer and his fallen angels…the Jews will choose Lucifer as their messiah…the biggest insult the Jews will betray god with…

  • Henrietta22

    Good article. Yes, it’s true that people evolve and social culture changes, and it moves much faster if in evolving people study and learn to give up their ignorance of what they try to understand. If they don’t give up their ignorance, and don’t want to understand, they will stand in one spot with everyone leaving them behind and they will continue to struggle with others like them. President Obama is in his evolution of time-honored mores and he will eventually fly through his cloud and come out the other side.

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