Op-ed: Wise Up, Dustin Lance Black

The board member for the American Foundation for Equal Rights penned an op-ed condemning the president for not supporting same-sex marriage laws; a response to his assertions.

BY Melanie Nathan

April 30 2012 5:53 PM ET

The moment I saw Dustin Lance Black’s headline in The Hollywood Reporter, all my admiration began a-tumbling. While one cannot disregard the work of the screenwriter-turned-activist and its impetus for marriage equality, his latest critique of President Obama engorges like an unwelcome cloud on a sunny day.

In his article, “Hollywood & Politics: Dustin Lance Black Blames Obama and Romney for the Mess of Gay Marriage,” Black attempts to connect Obama’s record on LGBT issues to the nonrecord and vacillation of Mitt Romney.  Black says, “Both candidates are ‘up in the air’ on the equal rights issue.” He attempts an airplane analogy: “The problem is, when the president flies, he’s on Air Force One, a plane designed to refuel in the air. He can stay up there for as long as it serves him.” But Black fails to understand that pilots often circle in the air for the good of those on board as well as those on the ground. This trite and ill-timed analogy is not only inaccurate but also insulting.

Black throws a crumb or two with his cryptic mention of the Department of Justice and the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” yet his stance fails to elucidate on so much more that indicates Obama’s true attitude toward LGBTI rights, both here in the U.S. and internationally. 

When in the article, Black throws a reckless “but after all the hope and change LGBT people were promised four years ago, many are frustrated with Obama's sluggish, self-described  ‘evolution’ on the issue of marriage equality,” I hear words out of context and that indicate a misunderstanding of the milieu and politics.

Black is absolutely incorrect in his assertion that Obama has yet to “evolve” on the issue of marriage equality. Black buys into the rhetoric that died when the Respect for Marriage Act was introduced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein in July 2011 as repeal legislation for the Defense of Marriage Act.  Soon thereafter Obama indicated he had evolved. The Washington Post headline notably read, “Obama backs bill to repeal Defense of Marriage Act.” How much more evolving could one realistically do than that?

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