Amollo: Obama support of marriage equality shows unusual political calculation

Benson Amollo

What a good president or leader brings to a body of legacy is the ability to settle for a riskier choice. Especially in America, presidents are known to train their minds and eyes on safety. Thus, if it looks bad on the poll numbers and the much-sought-after “good legacy,” then it wouldn’t be a decision worth making. This is why President Barack Obama’s recent support for gay marriage strikes supreme.

The president did not belittle the risk that would come with this, and he must have known that given the kind of backlash from the “moral right” it still remains a risk worth contending. But Obama’s choice is the kind of stuff that sits in for great legacy. Somewhere, somehow, some American with the privilege of evoking great power had to do this; the tectonics have shifted, and in this 21st Century marriage equality can no longer be a stranger in our midst.

A good leader (president) must be able to invoke powers that resonate with public opinion. Today in the United States, opposition to gay marriage has declined with poll numbers showing that most Americans are no longer resistant to people of the same sex forming a legal union. The biggest challenge to gays and to Obama’s pronouncement supporting the cause of LGBT is the characteristic fear mongering that continues to choke all the decency out of debate in this country.

The American Moral Right and their backers led by the Republican Party are bent on misleading the American public by insinuating through dismal arguments it is wrong-headed to allow such rights. In loads of slippery slope, they are attempting to speak on behalf of God and an alleged moral place of family whose “decay” they are loudly mourning. But what do individual rights have to do with a God whose sexuality we cannot even ascertain? Or to continue on a sloppy path, what’s the two cents blabbering about individual choices if we are a society of freedom and choices? Why are sections of society working hard to curtail others from exercising their freedoms when corporations have been accorded the legal place to nickel and dime the majority poor under the guise of freedom and rights?

The dysfunctional American political class merits but a sorry excuse going for individuals seeking their rights when it has largely failed to insulate the governed from the steel jaws of unguarded capitalism. But at the end of the day, the gay debate has nothing to do with values as purists would like it to look. Like other civil rights issues, Americans are slowly coming around the reality that an individual’s sexual orientation will have to be respected. That we will have no business poking our noses in what gay men or lesbian women do with their lives as long as such conduct does not encroach into someone else’s freedom.

The case Obama makes is that it is foolhardy to scout for an excuse in religion and moral purity when the fate of members of society with “abnormal” sexual orientation is ignored. The sight of an individual undergoing harassment of any form because of their sexual orientation never looked appealing the last time I checked. The pain in the eyes of a mother or a father when their son reports to them that he can no longer attend a school owing to the maltreatment that his sexual inkling ignites is absurd. Marriage rights are and will never be about the lovers society loves to victimize. The sadness of one gay individual has a far reaching implication to society than meets the eye; family, friends, associates and everyone the individual is involved with shares in the pain.

Already, the “morally upright” society’s victimization of gay people is harsh enough a punishment, and thus repeated indignities of standing in their path to legal freedom is unjust, uncivilized and a misnomer for which like-minded Americans will be forced to dispel.

And ion this debate; in this thick of things; in this notorious slaying of a gay man, there is one strong ally — the college student. Students across college campuses in the United States are more open minded on this subject than any section of society. Students seem to respect their counterparts whose sexual orientation spell gay than most people in society. Most students would like to treat their counterparts for who they are and what they have to offer and thus, what their private lives read like, really has no place in their associations.

But, the support of a president and a concrete block of students across college campuses isn’t enough. Gay people themselves have the work cut out for them. Their private lives must be their own. Their rights are their own and nobody else’s. They must take their sexuality to heart and guard it with their lives. Only gay people know how far it’s been to be gay.