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Next, gay marriage is an important component of the identity politics that dominate the liberal university. Like the other so-called minority victims of historical prejudice, oppression, and exclusion, homosexuals are owed affirmation and reparations in the form of faculty positions, gay-centric takes on traditional disciplines like history or English, and their own departments, majors, minors, or programs. Outside the university, laws and behavior uncongenial to the gay agenda must be fought through the courts and the federal government. To work, though, grievance politics requires grievances, for no matter how successful or powerful a victim-group is, no matter how much progress is made in eliminating prejudice or exclusion from institutions and laws, the group must still find an injustice to fight in order to justify its existence and privileges. For the gay lobby, traditional marriage is the most important target, for it is passionately supported by those constituencies, especially conservatives and people of faith, who stand in the way of the progressives’ agenda of reshaping society and human nature according to their utopian ideology.
Finally, legalizing gay marriage necessarily requires empowering anti-democratic federal bureaucrats and judges in order to override the stubborn ignorance and bigotry of the people. Whatever polls might say about increasing support for gay marriage, its proponents aren’t about to put the question to the people’s vote. Remember California’s Proposition 8, which in 2008, the same year Obama overwhelmingly won California, defined marriage in the state constitution as solely between a man and a woman? It passed in this progressive bastion, to be overturned later by the State Supreme Court. Progressives prefer to achieve their aims not through democratic elections that reflect the will of the people, but through unelected judges and bureaucrats who share the progressive world-view that the people need to be coerced into believing so they’ll do the right thing. Obama’s current flip-flop on gay marriage is another sign of his preference for using coercive federal power to bypass the will of the states, where such highly contested social issues should be adjudicated through the democratic process.
Obama, of course, for three years has been regularly using presidential power to bypass the people in order to shape policy. Marriage laws may be the purview of the states, but don’t think that that cannot change. Remember, Obama ordered the Department of Justice not to defend the democratically passed Defense of Marriage Act, which was passed in part to protect the integrity of state laws. He also has gone on record as saying the issue will ultimately be determined by the Supreme Court, one or more of whose justices the next president will most likely choose. It’s not unthinkable that some future Supreme Court will find the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional and override the 32 state laws defending traditional marriage.
Given how thoroughly the issue of gay marriage expresses the foundational progressive beliefs that define the university and that underlie most of Obama’s policies, it strains credulity to think that support for gay marriage hasn’t been Obama’s actual position all along. Like his breakout 2004 speech at the Democratic National Convention in which be proclaimed, “There is not a liberal America and a conservative America––there is the United States of America,” his support for traditional marriage was just one more patch of camouflage hiding his progressive agenda.
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