Op-ed: Wise Up, Dustin Lance Black
BY Melanie Nathan
April 30 2012 4:53 PM ET
The president probably believes in marriage equality — yet may not have mouthed the words, perhaps out of political expediency. It’s difficult to fault him, given the nature of the opposition. Obama’s so-called evolution has already happened. And the term now serves only as justification for a tantrum.
What we as the marginalized LGBTI community should realize is that there is only one option available to us for this election, and therein is our focus. I asked fellow filmmaker Kristina Lapinski, from Gay U.S.A. the Movie, what she thought about Black’s threat to pull his support for Obama when he said, “If his evolution continues to fall short, then those interested in equality in this country must abandon their support.” Her comment brought this back to the bottom line: “What an irresponsible thing for DLB to say before elections. Who is the pro-equality alternative, [Fred] Karger?”
For a gay man to threaten withdrawal of support for Barack Obama’s second term in a publication that serves his industry, a publication that reaches so many, one where allies are sought on so many levels, is reckless. Any sidetracking serves no good at all.
Black has caused more harm than good with this piece. Instead of standing tall with the president, he has used his celebrity to undermine equality by validating and further assisting in the alienation of many who do not understand what is at stake.
If we do not fully support this president, we face a new president who will veto the DOMA repeal legislation, a DOJ that will defend unconstitutional laws, judges who will kill marriage equality, binationals being deported in droves, and so much more.
The time to take the president to task has come and gone. At present, the focus ought to be entirely on the Obama reelection, and our support should be unrelenting. Once in office, we can have our day — and that will involve a lot more than pure reliance on the one office.
Black says, “So until the president publicly puts his wheels down on the side of full equality, he must be passionately engaged, confronted and protested for maintaining his prejudiced, hurtful public position.” This comment is way out of time. The time for criticizing the president to this degree of chastisement was way back in 2010 during the lame-duck session when the Democrats had a majority in both the Senate and House. Then the president should have placed LGBT interests at the fore, yet even then the blame must be distributed among our Democratic representatives, our own LGBT advocacy groups and grass roots alike. Winning equality requires a complex combination and cannot depend on one man and one office.