by Leah Waldron
Last night in the second presidential debate, Obama found his footing with demanding, articulate arguments, seemingly off-the-cuff zingers, and enough facts and figures about Romney’s shady past to make you cheer at your TV. But one moment of the debate—and one that LGBT bloggers around the world pounced upon soon after—occurred in the final half-hour of the night, when both Romney and Obama were asked about gun control.
Not wanting to appear insensitive to this summer’s tragedy in Aurora, Colorado, both men danced around the subject of automatic weapon laws, mental illness/criminal background checks, and protecting innocent civilians. Obama schooled Romney by accusing him of going after the NRA’s endorsement, but all in all, both candidates were pretty murky on the actual laws they would pass (or repeal). And then, Romney switched to American family talking points, and everything got pretty confusing (actually, Romney did this debate trick throughout the night when asked about the economy, the federal budget, immigration, energy and so on). And he almost got away with it; the politician’s “smile-and-mention-American-families” trick works most of the time, because Americans generally want to believe that the president is talking directly to us. But here is where Romney screwed up. Instead of saying that the unity of an American family would help lower gun crime and poverty rates, he said that two“married” parents will.
Notice that Romney said nothing about a parents’ involvement in raising the child, but that the couple must “be married.” It was a low blow to the pro-gay marriage movement, and a slight-of-hand that no gay person in America missed (and Candy didn’t even need to bring it up).
The last time I checked, a marriage license didn’t make you any less of a crappy parent. And considering how easy it is for any (straight) couple to get a federal marriage license, I assume the problem isn’t keeping married couples from having children out of wedlock, but staying together—not married, but together under one roof—after they are born. There are plenty of deadbeat dads (and moms) that were once married, but skipped town. In a kid’s mind, it’s more important for dad or mom to just be around. Screw the marriage requirement. Most kids just want parents.
It seems like every time a child’s welfare is discussed in American politics, the idea of a “two-parent” household is lauded, and I happen to agree. A child raised by two parents (same sex or otherwise) has a better shot at life than a child raised with half the incoming cash and half the parental attention. But when Romney said that two-parent, married households will lower crime and poverty rates, he wasn’t talking about homes with same-sex parents. Maybe if he was, his segue from gun laws to marriage would have made more sense. If we passed gay marriage at the federal level, the number of married, two-parent households would increase. More families would be available to adopt needy children (the ones the conservatives seemingly care about), and crime and poverty would, presumably, go down.
But that’s not what he said, and we all know it.
The more I watch Romney talk about the importance of families, the more I want to move to Canada. If he wins this November, I may have to self deport.
Who’s with me?