If the election were before yesterday, I probably would have voted for Barack Obama. Not especially avidly or ardently or with any fire in my belly, but simply because life for me and my family during the past four years hasn't been that bad. In fact, it's probably been better than it would if John McCain were president. Erin's and my being able to stay on our parents' health insurance until age 26, a tangible result from Obamacare, has actually directly affected and helped me, a head of household who made fewer than five figures last year (and not for lack of work ethic).
I like President Obama's plan for supporting education and making student loans less burdensome. Although we only know through retrospect, the auto bailout worked. The economy isn't great, but it's better than it used to be. In the realm of foreign policy, under President Obama's watch the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are tapering off, and both Osama bin Laden and Muammar Gaddafi were toppled. And in the case of Gaddafi and Libya, not a single American soldier was lost and the operation was only a matter of months.
Maybe Romney would be a better president, especially in relation to the economy. And he also supports lower interest rates for student loans. But in almost everything else (taxes, immigration, foreign policy), he's either the typical rich snob, the typical Republican, or both. It's hard for me to be a big fan of someone who has an elevator for his cars, says "corporations are people too" and calls himself a fan of "sport." Maybe I'm just skeptical and hesitant when it comes to people whose wealth is in another stratosphere, and who don't know how to relate to people whose wealth is closer to earth.
I disagree with some of his political beliefs, but I wouldn't bemoan Romney becoming president, and I don't think he'd be a disaster or anything. He could even be great. Who knows?
And, since yesterday, I might be more willing to give him a chance.
Barack Obama came out in personal support of same-sex marriage yesterday, in an ABC News interview. He said that his views on the subject have "evolved," and after talking with his family and pondering about it, he has decided that same-sex marriage should be legal.
That in and of itself doesn't bother me. Of course he's entitled to his opinion.
And, a vote for President Obama doesn't necessarily mean a vote for same-sex marriage (yet). He said that politically, legalizing same-sex marriage should be left up to the states. And I can live with that. I wouldn't flee the country even if a majority of states legalized it. Heck, I'm about to willingly move to a state where same-sex marriage is legal. Iowa can legalize it if it wants to, and North Carolina and California can make it illegal if they want to. And I'm fine with that.
But here's what does bother me:
1) There was some discussion, definitely warranted, on how when Romney changes his mind on something, it's "flip-flopping," but when President Obama does it, it's "evolution." I usually think Romney does flip or flop according to what is most politically opportunistic. He's a capitalist, in the sense that he likes to capitalize on any situation and make any statement that will get him votes. But, on some of his positions, I think Romney probably did genuinely change his mind. So does President Obama, and so does any human being. The media should remember that in their portrayals of both Romney and President Obama, and should be fair to both sides. And by portraying Romney and President Obama in this way, it's a dead giveaway of media's liberal bias.
2) What bothers me more than that, however, is this will add momentum to the sense that universal support for same-sex marriage is inevitable, and that it's only a matter of time before everyone else will "come around."
In many ways, I think the change in opinions and understanding about homosexuality is progress and evolution. And I've progressed and evolved too.
But no matter how much knowledge I gain about the issue, I don't see myself ever voting for same-sex marriage.
Just in my own short lifetime, I have seen a shift in public opinion on this issue. Support for gay rights and same-sex marriage rights have moved from being represented by folks on the extreme fringe to being shared by people in the mainstream. I remember when someone who wanted marriage for same-sex couples was radical. Now, someone who doesn't want same-sex marriage is widely considered a backward-minded bigot.
Some gay rights activists see themselves in the midst of a revolution, and compare themselves to Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. In reality, the Mormons and others who supported Prop 8 in California are more like the civil rights crusaders than the gay rights activists are.
"After a significant majority of California voters (seven million - over 52 percent) approved Proposition 8's limiting marriage to a man and a woman, some opponents characterized the vote as denying people their civil rights. In fact, the Proposition 8 battle was not about civil rights, but about what equal rights demand and what religious rights protect. ...
"The marriage union of a man and a woman has been ... the core legal definition and practice of marriage in Western culture of thousands of years. Those who seek to change the foundation of marriage should not be allowed to pretend that those who defend the ancient order are trampling on civil rights." - Elder Dallin H. Oaks
No matter what side of the debate we are on, we have to realize that fighting for same-sex marriage is not the same as fighting for human rights. The freedom to marry is not the same as freedom from oppression or tyranny. Sexual orientation is not the same as race or ethnicity, and being gay is not the same as being black or white.
Being in a homosexual relationship or marriage has always been a choice. Even if someone is born with a susceptibility to the temptation, acting on that temptation is still a choice. Being tempted by homosexuality does not define us any more than any other temptation or sin defines us.
“You serve yourself poorly when you identify yourself primarily by your sexual feelings. That isn’t your only characteristic, so don’t give it disproportionate attention. You are first and foremost a son [or daughter] of God ...” - Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
I can't help but see this issue through the lens of the understanding and knowledge I have, whether that be secular or spiritual knowledge. I don't want to force or impose that knowledge on others, but at the same time I don't have to embrace something that is contrary to and conflicting with my knowledge.
On a lot of political issues, there isn't any cut-and-dry knowledge, secular or spiritual, to make an obvious choice. But you won't be seeing me voting to legalize same-sex marriage, marijuana, taking the Lord's name in vain, coveting or anything else I know is wrong.
At the same time, if other voters choose differently and put me in the minority, I won't hate them. I'll just have to work harder to follow what's right and teach what's right to my family.
3) President Obama said that he talked about this topic with his daughters at the dinner table. And what they said surprised me. The president's daughters had friends who had same-sex couples as parents, and to them it was completely normal.
"It wouldn't dawn on them that somehow their friends' parents would be treated differently. It doesn't make sense to them," the president said in the interview.
Before that, when I imagined Allisyn and my future children growing up and learning about the world around them, I was expecting that I would need to teach them to be tolerant and respectful of people who choose to live a homosexual lifestyle.
But now, I wonder if maybe Malia's and Sasha's and my children's generation lives in a different world than I do. I might have to teach my children from the other direction, guiding and reminding them that although we should be tolerant and respectful of others' beliefs, God intended for marriage to be between a man and a woman, and there are reasons for that. I agree that "their friends' parents" shouldn't "be treated differently" by my children. But those parents and their lifestyle shouldn't be treated as just another viable option, because according to what I know and what I want my children to know, it isn't.
It's not necessarily a problem that I would have to teach that way. Just an interesting factor to add to my future parenting methods.
I don't know yet whether all of these thoughts and feelings will make me vote any differently this November. But, I'll put it this way: spending the summer in a house with a Mitt Romney sign on the front lawn might not be as bad as I thought it would have been a couple of days ago.