civil rites

RNC Head Doesn’t Think Marriage Equality Is a Civil Rights Issue, But Michael Bloomberg Does

A demonstrator waves a rainbow flag in front of the US Capitol in Washington on October 11, 2009 as tens of thousands of gay activists marched to demand civil rights, a day after President Barack Obama vowed to repeal a ban on gays serving openly in the US military. AFP PHOTO/Maria Belen PEREZ GABILONDO (Photo credit should read Maria Belen Perez Gabilondo/AFP/Getty Images)

You might not believe it, but some public figures did not get a chance to share all their thoughts about the topic of gay marriage this week. And so they took to the Sunday morning talk shows, and the news cycle spun on. First up was RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, who cautioned the audience of ABC’s Meet the Press against comparing legal blocks to marriage equality to Jim Crow laws, as Democratic National Convention Committee co-chair Jim Rogers did last week: 

I don’t think it’s a matter of civil rights. I think it’s just a matter of whether or not we’re going to adhere to something that’s been historical and religious and legal in this country for many, many years. I mean, marriage has to have a definition. And we just happen to believe it’s between a man and a woman.”

“I think there’s a big difference between people that have been murdered and everything that has come with Jim Crow than marriage between a man and a man and a woman and a woman,” he said.

And then there was Face the Nation with Family Research Council president Tony Perkins, an evangelical Christian who does not support gay marriage but still criticized Rand Paul’s recent hilarious observation about the increasing gayness of President Obama’s views on gay marriage. “I don’t think this is something we should joke about,” Perkins said. “We are talking about individuals who feel very strongly one way or the other, and I think we should be civil, respectful, allowing all sides to have the debate.” Despite liking jokes, we find this to be a very reasonable statement. He was accompanied by American Values president Gary Bauer, who predicted that Obama’s big, gay announcement (an “ill-conceived position”) could put “six or seven states he carried in 2008” in play, though he declined to name those states

In the liberal corner, there was California senator Dianne Feinstein, who went on Fox News Sunday to push back against the idea that Obama’s “evolution” on the matter was really just another word for “flip-flop.” She said she experienced a similar evolution after getting to know more gay couples: “You see the happiness. You see the economic security that marriage brings and even more fundamentally you see children who otherwise would not have an adopted home being able to have that home.” She added, “More and more people say what’s wrong with people being happy?”

Meanwhile, Michael Bloomberg made like yesterday’s Mitt Romney, and used a commencement address as a convenient opportunity to discuss the issue. (His take, obviously, was the opposite of Romney’s.) Speaking to the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill’s Class of 2012, New York’s mayor gave a “spirited defense” of gay marriage to an audience whose home state banned it earlier this week: 

Each and every generation has removed some barrier to full participation in the American dream,” the mayor said. “I would argue last week’s referendum banning same-sex marriage shows just how much more work needs to be done to ensure freedom and equality for all people.”

He added, “I have no doubt that in your lifetime, liberty’s light will allow us to see more clearly the truth of our nation’s founding principles, and allow us to see all people, and all couples, as full and equal members of the American family.”

This being Bloomberg and all, he couldn’t help but encourage the kids to set their sights on fighting for justice, just like him: “The girl behind you could be a future president of the United States,” he told them. “Or even, better than that, the mayor of New York City!”

And finally — and perhaps most importantly — Newsweek released images of its “First Gay President” cover, and it is a doozy

* This post has been corrected to show that Jim Rogers is co-chair of the Host Committee for Charlotte in 2012, not the Democratic National Convention Committee .

RNC Head Says Gay Marriage Isn’t Civil Rights