Obama Announcement Generates Local Conservative Response

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The conservative Oklahoma political response to President Barack Obama's announcement Wednesday that he supports same-sex marriage was strangely muted.

Conservative politicians here have used their opposition to gay rights as a fear-mongering campaign tool for years and the anti-Obama hysteria runs deep in one of the reddest states in the county.

So where's all that faux outrage and indignation based on Biblical teachings? Maybe it's coming soon. I wouldn't be surprised.

Even U.S. Jim Inhofe could only manage this bit of political sloganeering:

President Obama’s announcement today is not surprising. He is trying to shore up his liberal base in an election year. All along, he has supported the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. At the same time, he has shirked his responsibility as the Chief Executive, and unilaterally deemed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a federal law, unworthy of enforcement. Even though he had previously said that he did not support gay marriage, his actions have indicated otherwise all along.

I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. Traditional marriage is a long-standing common sense American value that is the backbone of our society, and it is worth defending.

There's not much hellfire and damnation in that statement. Remember, Inhofe once took to the U.S. Senate floor to proclaim: "I’m really proud to say that in the recorded history of our family, we’ve never had a divorce or any kind of homosexual relationship." That's got a lot more meat for the Christian fundamentalists.

A Tulsa World article outlined some other political responses, and, for the most part, they seemed tepid. Gov. Mary Fallin's office, for example, issued this statement: "Governor Fallin believes that marriage is between a man and a woman."

Even state Rep. Sally Kern (R-Oklahoma City), one of the world's most infamous gay bashers, could only muster this as the news hit, according to the Worldarticle: "I think it's a sad day when the leader of the free world comes out against the bedrock institution that has been the foundation of society." Where's the attendant gay terrorist attack?

As I write this, U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, who once warned against rampant lesbian debauchery in southeastern Oklahoma schools, hadn't even offered an official statement yet on an issue he used to win his Senate seat in the first place.

Could it be that just as Obama's views on same-sex marriage "evolved," as he put it, so, too, some conservatives--even in Oklahoma--are beginning to recognize extremist opposition to gay rights isn't the political slam dunk it once was? Polls shows that the country is evenly divided on same-sex marriage, and demographics alone show that support of gay marriage will only increase in coming years. In larger historical terms, it's only a last gasp of intolerance when North Carolina, Oklahoma or any state bans same-sex marriage.

Obama's announcement is an important one for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community. Although it's only rhetorical at this point, it represents the first time a sitting president has pretty much endorsed full equal rights for LGBT people.

Obama, in announcing the decision, even referred to Christianity when he said:

. . . we [Michelle and I] are both practicing Christians and obviously this position may be considered to put us at odds with the views of others but, you know, when we think about our faith, the thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it’s also the Golden Rule, you know, treat others the way you would want to be treated. And I think that’s what we try to impart to our kids and that’s what motivates me as president and I figure the most consistent I can be in being true to those precepts, the better I’ll be as a as a dad and a husband and, hopefully, the better I’ll be as president.

This language makes it even more surprising Oklahoma conservatives weren't out thumping their version of the Bible after Obama made the announcement. Again, maybe it's coming soon.

I personally don't think the issue is religious, though I can accept Obama's logic given the religious context. It's really a question of basic equality for everyone. Access to a government-issued marriage license isn't and shouldn't be a religious issue, but Obama's announcement was landmark regardless of the specifics of how he evolved in his support of same-sex marriage.