Let’s pretend that it’s November and Barack Obama is 20 points ahead—thanks, in part, to a collective decision on the part of the traditional media to stop eating John McCain’s ass and actually hold the McCain camp accountable for its crude race-baiting, anti-Christ-baiting, accusations of treason, and lies.
Hey, we’re fantasizing, right?
So let’s say Obama is on the verge of getting his ass elected. That’ll mean he’s also on the verge of having to make good on a campaign promise he made to us queers: He’s going to repeal the federal Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, which bars any federal recognition of same-sex marriages. Obama’s pledge to repeal DOMA—or work with Congress to repeal it—recalls Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign promise to end the military’s ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military—and we all know how that worked out.
Repealing DOMA would make the splashiest benefits of marriage—social security, joint tax filings, the ability of a foreign partner to obtain citizenship, etc.—available to legally married same-sex couples. Of course same-sex couples can only be legally married in California or Massachusetts at the moment (fuck you again, Washington State Supreme Court, and fuck you hard), while New York State, on the orders of it governor, will recognize their marriages (hello? Christine?). Which means that there are only three states where, if DOMA were repealed during the first Obama administration, same-sex couples would enjoy all the rights, responsibilities, and protections of legal marriage, the big ones granted by the federal government and the more numerous-but-less-crucial ones granted by the states.
Now pro-gay legislators would sign on for a DOMA repeal, of course. We’re not going to have any trouble lining up the votes of Barbara Boxer or Jim McDermott and Barney Frank and, um… those guys. But just as there weren’t enough “thinking Americans” to put Adlai Stevenson in the White House (look him up, kids), there aren’t enough pro-gay legislators in Congress to repeal DOMA.
We need to come up with an argument for repealing DOMA that would play well in anti-gay states, places represented by anti-gay Republicans and anti-gay Democrats. So how about this:
If DOMA is repealed then gay and lesbian couples that wish to marry, and gay and lesbian singles that would like to marry one day, will have a huge incentive to leave anti-gay states like Mississippi, Alabama, Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia, etc., for states where we can enjoy our full marriage rights, states like California and New York and Massachusetts. So a Congressman from Dumbfuck, West Virginia, could vote to repeal DOMA and then go home and spin his vote to his hateful constituents not as a pro-gay vote—heavens no!—but as an anti-gay vote. He voted to repeal DOMA so that those those sinful gays and lesbians would quit West Virginia for Massachusetts. And then the congressman from Dumbfuck could remind his constituents that God sent a hurricane in the shape of a giant wrathful fetus to destroy New Orleans because the gays were about to host a big street party and God is all powerful and so He could so totally send one to West Virginia if he felt like it. And so anything the congressman from Dumfuck could do to encourage native-born gays and lesbians to leave the state, and discourage gays and lesbians from moving into the state, was really in their best interests of his God- and fetus-shaped-hurricane-fearing constituents.
It sounds crazy, I realize, but Christian bigots are already fantasizing about mass gay migrations. When discussing a bill that would make it possible for American gays and lesbians to sponsor their foreign partners for US citizenship, Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council said that his organization would “prefer to export homosexuals from the United States than to import them into the United States.” Driving gays and lesbians out of the country may be a bit unrealistic, as even Mr. Sprigg might admit, seeing as we homosexuals reproduce ourselves out of the bodies of heterosexuals. By the time Sprigg finished rounding up all the gays and lesbians in the country and exporting us to, say, the EU (pick me! pick me!), he’d have a fresh generation of homos on his hands.
So it seems plausible that Mr. Sprigg, the Family Research Council, and the good people of Jesusland, USA, would embrace policies—the repeal of DOMA at the federal level, a halt to all efforts to amend state constitutions in California and Massachusetts to ban gay marriage—that resulted in American homosexuals exporting ourselves (in greater numbers than we already do) from states where we’re not wanted (Virginia, Mississippi, North Carolina, Michigan, etc.), to states where we are wanted (California, New York, Massachusetts).
Unfortunately Evan Wolfson of Freedom to Marry thinks my “trail of queers” idea is a bad one.
“I don’t think we win by buying into messages or arguments that adopt our opponents’ invidious premises, i.e., the suggestion that gays are bad and should be driven from the state,” Evan wrote in an email. “The opposition will not be mollified, and we lose a chance to move the middle through authentic engagement.”
Blah blah blah—authentic engagement and all that. But I honestly think my approach is more pragmatic, and will result in DOMA being repealed sooner rather than later.
UPDATE: In comments elswinger writes: “Not once have I ever heard him say [he was going to repeal DOMA]. If he had we would be seeing commercials from the McCain camp about it.”
From Obama’s Open Letter to Gay Americans: “I support the complete repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)—a position I have held since before arriving in the U.S. Senate. While some say we should repeal only part of the law, I believe we should get rid of that statute altogether.”
And Google “obama doma” if you want to see how exercised the religious right is about Obama’s “threat” to repeal DOMA.