Nancy Polikoff

Obama Takes Gay Rights Stand Four Days Before the Election -- Can This Be Real?

Filed By Nancy Polikoff | November 01, 2008 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics, Politics, The Movement
Tags: Barack Obama, California, National Center for Lesbian Rights, No On 8, Shannon Minter

In a move drawing outrage from gay rights leaders and the San Francisco District Attorney, the campaign to eliminate marriage for same-sex couples in California mailed flyers to voters with a picture of Barack Obama -- and Michele -- and a quote: "I'm not in favor of gay marriage." The message "Vote Yes on Prop 8" appears under Obama's image.

But Obama had gone on record AGAINST Prop 8, and the flyer was a blatant attempt to mislead California voters into believing to the contrary.

When National Center for Lesbian Rights legal director Shannon Minter brought this to my attention, I said it was especially infuriating because four days before the election Obama could not afford to publicly disavow it. Well, I was selling short the man I hope will be our next President. In fact, late Friday evening his campaign put out a statement reaffirming his opposition to Prop 8. It gave me a pinch-me-I-must-be-dreaming moment.

In response to the mailer, the Obama campaign released the following statement:

Senators Obama and Biden have made clear their commitment to fighting for equal rights for all Americans whether it's by granting LGBT Americans all the civil rights and benefits available to heterosexual couples, or repealing 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.' Senator Obama has already announced that the Obama-Biden ticket opposes Proposition 8 and similar discriminatory constitutional amendments that could roll back the civil rights he and Senator Biden strongly believe should be afforded to all Americans.

When Congress passed DOMA weeks before the 1996 election, President Clinton signed it. It was widely believed that a veto would torpedo his reelection. Obama's response to this one misleading flyer is nowhere near as consequential as vetoing a law passed by Congress, but, still, I expected caution on Obama's part, and therefore silence.

I'm writing tonight from Hampton, Virginia, where I've been working this week on Get Out The Vote. The volunteers range from young people to 92. We work tirelessly. We have fun. We have faith in the future. And tonight my faith just deepened.

Crossposted from Beyond Straight and Gay Marriage

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crescentdave crescentdave | November 1, 2008 4:34 PM

This is from that same announcement of October 31, 2008, from the Obama/Biden campaign:

"As the Democratic nominee for President, I am proud to join with and support the LGBT community in an effort to set our nation on a course that recognizes LGBT Americans with full equality under the law...And that is why I oppose the divisive and discriminatory efforts to amend the California Constitution, and similar efforts to amend the U.S. Constitution or those of other states. For too long, issues of LGBT rights have been exploited by those seeking to divide us. It's time to move beyond polarization and live up to our founding promise of equality by treating all our citizens with dignity and respect. This is no less than a core issue about who we are as Democrats and as Americans."

Thanks for sharing this, Bil. I've used it in a hastily-composed email solicitation to my list of friends for donations to No On 8!

Keep up the good work my friend.

Yes we can!

T'wasn't me, Joe. This is a post by Nancy Polikoff. :) She deserves all the credit for this one!

Indeed. I've sent Nancy a note of gratitude.

I hope it actually reaches someone, instead of preaching to the choir. We need to win voters.


You are absolutely right! And, right now -- the very minute you are reading this -- the best way to do that is to click here: and donate $5 to No On 8!! They are using the money to keep their TV ads up day and night until Tuesday. You can help reach voters and turn the tide -- and MAKE HISTORY -- by taking two minutes to donate $5 right now.

Right now:

Don't hesitate. Do it now. Help make history, turn back the Religious Right and say NO On 8!

Lucrece, thanks for your contribution to No On 8!


Yes, the Obama campaign has issued statements...yet on the flier I have in my hand that was mailed to my home I read quotes.

These quotes are taken directly from the mouth of Obama (and Biden) when he spoke at a televised debate in front of a live audience.

What do we get as repudiation to the quotes?

A statement from the campaign. No money. No advertisement. No public statement issued from the mouth of the candidate himself.

And the mouthpieces of his campaign step up and promote his position for him while millions of homes in California receive a piece of mail that highlights Obama's weak and confusing stand.

We settle for crumbs and we get less.

Joe Biden stated on the Ellen show that he opposed Prop 8, and that if he voted in CA, he would vote against it. I'm sure there is a clip of that available, as I saw it online. I think it was on this blog as well.

That really should qualify as coming from the horse's mouth.

Assuming the whole country rushes to watch Ellen when announced, which is not the case.

Far more people turn to the presidential debate than those who turn to Ellen.

Very unfortunate. Millions saw the Rick Warren debate and no doubt Obama's "god is in the mix" has been damaging to NoOnProp8, especially among black voters. Happy to hear NoOnProp8 hired a new PR firm to do their ads, but much too late. I have a hunch we will probably lose the fight for our marriage rights to religion. Hope I am wrong but I see the fervor on the streets here in Palm Springs with Yes on Prop 8 bible thumpers.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | November 2, 2008 1:49 AM

Pinch harder, Nancy.

The bigotry of the Obama and McCain tickets about same sex marriage is the one single factor that hurts us the most in California, Arizona and Florida.

The constant repetition of their superstitious (religious) prejudices about same sex marriage is a green light to bigots to vote against us. Obama’s phrase “god’s in the mix” says two things. First that same sex marriage is a sin and secondly that bigotry is sanctioned from “On High”. That excites those whose lifestyles embrace irrational and superstitious views, aka, christians, and if enough of them vote we’re toast.

Of coursei the right and the bigots embrace Obama and use him against us. Why wouldn’t they. It makes perfect sense because he, the Clintons, Focus on the Family, Biden, Palin and McCain all agree that we have no right to marry. The fact that Obama supports civil unions, which cements our second class status, and that he’s quite content to let state DOMAs mistreat us just makes matters that much worse.

Lots of people don’t bother voting and most of those who do enter the voting have to hold their noses. They know we’re going to get screwed blue (not in the good way) no matter who wins. It’s happened in every election since 1868. Hopefully, if all the hard work of the volunteers pays off a lot of them will reject the outright bigotry of McCain and Obama and vote for their rights as well as ours.

Win or lose, though, we owe a huge debt of gratitude to the volunteers and to all the local and campus groups and especially to Unions and groups like the NAACP. When it got down and dirty they were there doing the most valuable thing people can do with their lives; fighting injustice.


You make excellent points! But it doesn't matter about McCain or Obama right now, the really important thing we need to do, this instant while you are reading this, relative to No On 8 is to just get it done. Defeat Prop 8. An argument about McCain, Obama, Clinton and other people or things political can wait. Only we can help defeat Prop 8 at this point -- not the politicians. Everyone else has done all they're going to do. It's up to you and me and everyone else reading this post right now.

Today, Sunday the 2nd, and all day Monday, it's going to be absolutely critical that the No On 8 people keep their TV ads up all over California, to combat the Right Wing's onslaught of anti-gay ads. Will you help us?

It'll take you two minutes to click here, , and then to use your charge card to make a donation to No On 8 of $5 or more. Just two minutes. It's critical and your donation, no matter its size, could be the straw that helps break the Right Wing's back on Tuesday.

Don't wake up Wednesday morning wishing you'd helped defeat Prop 8 but didn't. Do it now -- take two minutes and donate $5. Click here:

Obama opposes proposition 8.
Obame opposes same-sex marriage.

Both those statements are true.

How you interpret that is another matter. As I'm on the Right, my own interpretation is far too subjective to comment further.

The timing of the statements by Biden and the campaign was exquisite. Given the McSlime Machine's incapacity to process new information and their increasing inaudibility over the din of their own old slogans, the political risks to the Obama campaign are near zero. Even if the Republican campaign could have mustered the attention span to focus on something, the best they're left with on this issue is a campaign against equality, calling to mind the segregationist roots of today's Southern Strategy Republicans, spoiling their chances with voters in the middle and sapping the enthusiasm of their campaign workers.

Is Obama therefore trustable? Hell, no. It's a step in the right direction. Just as not providing money or people to the No on 8 campaign is a step in the wrong direction. It's up to Obama to become trustable. For now, people in the community are trustable. Mostly. Openly avowed allies, maybe. Trust has to be earned over time.

Just my $0.02.

I think that's great news, Nancy, so thank you for posting this. I understand and sympathize with everyone's frustration about Obama-Biden's stand on gay marriage, but I think we need to remember that they are politicians and that politicians hedge all the time on hot-button issues like this. It doesn't make it right, but I think it's excellent that they're willing to come out strongly against Prop 8. I also don't think that Obama-Biden are actually against gay marriage personally, it's just part of their platform so they don't lose conservative voters who might vote for them otherwise. Again, doesn't make it right, but McCain and Palin are much, much worse for LGBTQ folks, and third-party candidates are just not viable in this election. I really believe that we're just going to continue to see LGBTQ folks disenfranchised more and more if McCain-Palin end up in White House. Ugh...wish I could vote "no on Prop 8" in California on Tuesday

I do wish he were a little more proactive here and wasn't doing so much damage on this issue throughout the season by talking about how "god's in the mix."