Dr. Jason Johnson joins with CNN anchor Carol Costello to discuss Proposition 8 and the Supreme Court oral argument on California’s Proposition 8 and the issue of same sex marriage. Dr. Johnson discusses the issue with Republican strategist Ana Navarro.
It never ceases to amaze me just how political chicken can be. Earlier this year people were screaming about that the Burger King Chicken Strips commercial with Mary J. Blige was racist. A few years ago it was newscasters laughing themselves to death over the “Great Popeye’s Chicken Famine of 2009” and that’s just chicken politics in the United States. Last fall in South Africa you had the government going after the Nando’s Chicken chainfor putting up commercials that made fun of philandering president Jacob Zuma. And this week (and I am totally not making this up) the rising price of chicken has literally caused a national crisis in Iran. The Chief of the Iranian police Esmail Ahmadi Moghaddam has asked television networks to not show any images of chicken because now that the poultry staple has become too expensive for many middle class Iranians images of the tasty bird in screen might cause a feverish saffron and curry induced riot in the streets. (Okay I’m kidding about the Saffron and Curry part, but the Iranian government has started subsidized chicken lines in order to head off their “Chicken Crisis”.) So with all of these feathers flying here and abroad what’s next for this most polarizing of poultry products? The National Black Church Initiative has flapped themselves into the Chick-Fil-A gay marriage controversy.
In case you were only dining at Subway over the last few weeks you probably heard about the controversy started by Dan Cathy, the CEO of Chick-Fil-A who said in an interview with a conservative group that he was vehemently against gay marriage and the Chick-Fil-A chain had supported anti-gay marriage initiatives around the country. The response has been pretty swift, the Jim Henson company (the folks who gave us Kermit and Miss Piggy) stopped making toys for the chain, and Chicago mayor and former Obama consigliere Rahm Emmanuel said he didn’t want Chick-Fil-A in the city of Chicago. Now the NBCI releases a press statement from Reverend Anthony Evans stating:
“The National Black Church Initiatives Supports Chick-Fil-A One Billion Percent: Gay organizations are just plain silly”
Oh the problems we engender when we start clucking around with the tastiest of birds. There are a couple of things about the NBCI that are important to this story, as well as this larger controversy. First, the NBCI claims to have 34,000 members in various churches across the nation, but a quick perusal of their website and YouTube pages makes it clear that this is likely a group of men working out of a church basement somewhere in D.C. Not to suggest that there aren’t many African Americans who don’t support gay marriage, but the NBCI’s desperate attempts to promote themselves by releasing provocative press releases on every issue that comes down the pipe, doesn’t speak well to their actual influence on any policy or changes in government. But even if they did represent something other than the rants and raves of a few conservative black pastors (and they don’t) the larger question is: Why is anyone getting exorcised about this issue at all?
I have gone on record as a black man about my deep and un-abiding love for chicken. Fried chicken, curry chicken, arroz con pollo, I don’t discriminate when it comes to the all things chicken oriented. I am not ashamed. And while I can’t say that gay marriage is an issue that gets my out of my seat with rage (either pro or con) every morning the fact remains that people have a legal right to marry any other consenting adult they want to marry. If the owner of Chick-Fil-A doesn’t like gay marriage that is his right, and if he uses company funds to stop gay marriage then by all means people who disagree should stop supporting Chick-Fil-A, but at the same time Reverend Evans and the NBCI might want to think twice about jumping in bed with CEO Dan Cathy (figuratively of course since they’re against gay sex too.)
If this guy is willing to spend millions of dollars to prevent other citizens from practicing their constitutional rights (sorry it is legal now in several states) it’s not hard to imagine that he’s down with several other causes that aren’t particularly African American policy friendly. Moreover, while Chick-Fil-A does not discriminate against their customers it is entirely reasonable to assume that if the CEO has such hostile beliefs towards gay marriage that he likely establishes a less than hospitable workplace for LGBT employees at Chick-Fil-A, and why would anyone want to support a company whose CEO just admitted they discriminate? The world would be a much better and tastier place if CEOs keep their politics out of our poultry and the black church kept focusing on issues that matter like employment, healthcare and education. For goodness sakes, can’t we just enjoy our chicken in peace?
This article originally appeared online at Politic365.com.
We had a Black president before Bill Clinton. His name was Colin Powell.
Powell, the moderate well-spoken Afro-Caribbean fly in the Bush 41 ointment made Black Americans swoon with his calm demeanor. Striking an image somewhere between James Earl Jones and Harry Belafonte when Colin finally came out of the Closet in 1993 as a Republican (a surprise to no one who knows anything about the military) he almost single-handedly made the GOP sexy to Black generation X and non-hawking independents.
With that kind of background it really disappoints me to hear him come out in favor of gay marriage this week. Not because of the issue itself, but because this recent pronouncement is another loud reminder of the cowardly political shell game that Powell has played with the American public for almost 20 years.
Earlier this week I made an appearance on CNN to discuss whether or not Powell’s announcement that he actually favored gay marriage would make him an unviable candidate in today’s Republican Party. I thought it was a rather interesting question because General Powell has been out of lock-step with much of the Republican Party since the 1990’s.
While his tenure with the Joint Chiefs to Staff under Bush I was fairly controversy-free, he did take several stances through the 1990’s that put him at odds with his party. Colin Powell helped make “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” a reality, which was considered a fairly progressive move at the time, even if the policy ended up backfiring in serious ways. He also favored affirmative action, which was a major hot-button issue in the 90’s, and a hot potato that most Republicans were more than happy to throw into Democratic faces.
At the end of the decade after playing footsie with a few presidential elections, the former general started a national organization dedicated to helping poor kids. Powell was the compassionate conservative long before Bush came up with the idea as a cynical way to run in 2000. With this kind of background, doesn’t endorsing gay marriage make sense for Powell? How does taking a stand on this issue now that he’s retired make him a coward?
Simple: because on the most important issue of his public life, General Colin Powell has been a historic failure.
After the 9-11 attacks it is well documented that there were major disagreements within the Bush White House on how to proceed. You had Paul Wolfowitz, Vice President Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and other chickenhawks who wanted to use this crisis to invade Iraq. Others like Condi Rice would essentially do whatever she was told.
And then you had Powell.
General Powell was on record in early 2001 stating that U.S. sanctions had pretty much prevented Iraq from being able to create weapons of mass destruction. More importantly, as it became more and more clear that the Bush administration hawks wanted to forcefully overthrow Saddam Hussein, General Powell consistently clashed with other cabinet members suggesting that a war was a bad, idea, bad policy and much more damaging than any of them were taking into consideration.
Then, two years later, when the reputation of the Bush administration across the globe was hitting a new low, Powell degraded himself in a way that no amount of pro-gay marriage, pro-affirmative action or pro-Barack Obama endorsements can make up for.
Since he was the only person in the administration with a sliver of integrity internationally, Powell took one for the team and went before the United Nations to argue that Iraq was an imminent threat to the United States and military action was needed.
A year later he was gone.
Powell could have left the Bush administration. He could have refused to speak to the U.N. There are a hundred different things he could have done to stand by his disagreement with a policy he was sure would be doomed to failure. Instead, he sold out his reputation to justify a war that he knew all along would be a military and financial boondoggle. But he did it, ever the good soldier, ever the convenient moralist.
It matters very little what a former Secretary of State with no policy influence says about an issue that is essentially decided on a state-by-state basis. Especially when he says it days after President Barack Obama has already taken the credit and the hit for such a bold stance. In the greatest single policy decision of his entire storied career, he lied and condemned this country to a never ending war. I would have more respect for him if he actually believed what he said in front of the United Nations and was just wrong – instead he chose to sell out.
Colin Powell is always the good soldier, always the moralizing statesmen after the tough decisions have been made or when they are out of his power. General Colin Powell is not the kind of advocacy that any movement in America needs. He’s made it very clear that when it comes to taking the tough stances he’ll always cave.
This article originally appeared online at Politic365.com.
I can’t believe it took almost four years for Vice President Joe Biden to finally say something that the White House had to scramble around and explain. When Biden openly supported gay marriage last Sunday, just 48 hours before the hottest new purple state of North Carolina was set to vote on a same sex marriage ban, we could all exhale.
He’d finally made the gaffe we were waiting for.
Between Biden’s statement and voters in North Carolina overwhelmingly voting for Amendment 1, the president felt it was time to make a move. After a hastily scheduled interview with ABC’s Robin Roberts, the president became a full-fledged rainbow flag carrying supporter of gay marriage this afternoon, a reversal so sharp it almost gave me whiplash.
But Obama knew what he was doing: this was all very strategic, and part of a larger plan on the part of the Democrats to improve their chances this fall.
Obama is Smarter than You Think
The big questions from the press and political analysts are already trickling in.
“Will Obama’s support for gay marriage cost him African American or Latino voters?”
“Will this decision to support gay marriage cost Obama North Carolina?”
“Has the president’s flip-flop giving Romney a wedge issue?”
The answers to all three questions? No, No and No.
African Americans and Latinos that voted for Obama in 2008 and still plan on voting for him in 2012 are not going to be swayed by his stance on gay marriage. Any minority voter who is that driven by a social issue like gay marriage wouldn’t vote for any Democrat let alone Obama.
Next, Obama barely won North Carolina in 2008 and his chances of a repeat this year were pretty slim. Having a convention in Charlotte is as much about targeting North Carolina as it is about misdirection for Romney and wishful thinking. Obama knows his fates are tied to Virginia first and Florida second. The Tarheel state is a longshot.
Finally, Romney can’t win a flip-flop argument with a fish out of water (3:54 mark in the video) let alone Obama, so it would be foolish for him to attack the president with that line of argument.
So how does Barack Obama’s new marriage stance show that he’s smarter than anyone gives him credit for in 2012? As a good PR friend of mine told me earlier this week: “Any day where we’re not talking about the economy is a good day for Obama.” Which leads us to the second big result of today’s announcement.
Throwback to the 90’s
I already made a Faith No More reference to Romney the flopping fish in the last paragraph so I’ll just go full bore now.
This election is almost like a photo-negative of the 1990’s. If you remember those bygone days of Grungy cynical love, Flannel Shirts and neon colored hats, the economy was generally booming under Bill Clinton so the Republican’s best strategy to win in the House, Senate and White House was to focus on the “Culture Wars”. Affirmative Action, Drug Use, Abortion, Soccer Moms and the like dominated the GOP narrative, and they were generally successful at the state and occasionally congressional level with these arguments.
But this year it’s the reverse, and Obama is using his 2008 Cult of Personality to seduce the public back into his arms by using the culture wars in reverse. The economy is lousy so Obama hits Republicans on issues like Gay Marriage, Contraception and Gun Control (Trayvon Martin and Gabrielle Giffords opened up the door).
While Americans as a whole aren’t in love with the Democratic position on these issues most of the public is totally horrified with Republican views on gay marriage and contraception. If the GOP fights this election on the cultural battleground instead of the economy field they’ll lose this election. They have to remember it’s the economy stupid – this election is All About The Benjamins. (Okay that’s two 90’s references back to back. I’m done)
There are over 30 states that have some type of ban on gay marriage, many of which went for Obama in 2008 (Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, Minnesota and Florida just to name a few). It is highly unlikely that this announcement by the president is going to flip a blue state red or turn a red state blue. However his best option is to keep talking about this issue … because it’s certainly going to make a lot more people happy than last month’s jobs numbers.
This article originally appeared online at Politic365.com.
I have no idea why citizens waste thousands of signatures, volunteer hours and tax payer money to put anti-gay marriage legislation on the ballot in a state.
Moreover it escapes me why anyone in their right mind doesn’t see how or why such legislation always ends up being more trouble than it’s worth.
These laws always attract lawsuits, scandals and media to otherwise unimportant and looked over places like South Dakota.
Last week South Dakota got itself noticed by national media for something other than a mad cow scare because of recently married lesbian couple Ashley Stabe and Amy Stabe. Amy and Ashely got marriage legally in Iowa and decided to move to South Dakota for an even simpler life.
Unfortunately their transition hit a bit of snag for Amy Stabe — or according to South Dakota’s Department of Motor Vehicles — Amy Muston. Amy Stabe’s name was legally changed from Muston to Stabe when she got married in Iowa, but the state of South Dakota has refused to acknowledge her changed social security card, credit cards and a whole slew of other documentation that clearly shows she has changed her name. Why? Because to give Amy Muston a new drivers license with the name Amy Stabe, according to state officials, would be a state acknowledgment of a gay marriage, something that voters said “No” to in a statewide referendum in 2006.
The stupidity of the South Dakota law is a given. It is really none of the business of a state with more cattle than people to be telling other sentient human beings what to do with their hearts or body parts. However in their zealousness to stop the “gay plague” the anti-gay marriage citizens of South Dakota have turned what should be a routine bureaucratic matter into a state – and likely federal – case that will likely bring down the entire referendum. The Stabes, with the help of the state ACLU, are already heading to court on this matter.
One of the biggest problems with anti-gay legislation is that such policies violate basic American norms, stem from political dirty tricks and ultimately often violate the Constitution. In America people have the freedom to live how they wish, even if everyone else around them doesn’t like it. If an individual doesn’t like gay marriage they can simply chose to not have one.
In a similar manner if I don’t like Satan worshipers I don’t have to paint a hexagram on my driveway. However, I have no right to go out and petition the government to stop other people from worshiping Satan no matter how offensive it is to me personally unless I can prove that their behavior directly harms me – not offends or annoys but directly prevents me from living my life in any way that I wish. That is an American norm.
In addition, anti-gay marriage legislation is from the old George Bush/Karl Rove dirty tricks playbook to get out evangelical conservatives for elections. Bush did little or nothing to end gay marriage on the federal level because he didn’t care, he knew it was a tool to motivate voters and South Dakotans anti-gay crusaders fell for it.
Finally all of these laws are bound to fail when challenged in the courts because they violate the full faith and credit clause of the Constitution, which is essential to the American way of life. The clause was one of the key differences between the Articles of Confederation and our current Constitution. It states that laws in one state have to be honored and enforced in others. Without it, a contract between business partners in Virginia could be ignored in Ohio, a product order in Michigan could be considered invalid in Texas, etc. Consequently, a marriage in Iowa will be proven valid in South Dakota by any federal court. To rule otherwise the very fabric of America would unravel.
The irony is that states like South Dakota and others are willing to pass legislation that strikes at the very core of what it is to be an American just so that they can supposedly stop an action that they think strikes at the core of Christianity. That is their right. The problem is that we live in the United States of America, not the United States of Christianity. And to the degree that state legislators and citizens forget that difference they lead our nation down a dangerous path.