Fire and ice!
You come on like a flame,
Then you turn a cold shoulder!
Fire and ice!
I want to give you my love,
But you’ll just take a little piece of my heart…
— from Pat Benatar’s “Fire and Ice”
A younger Barack Obama and his former girlfriend, Genevieve Cook, the daughter of an Australian diplomat, are shown in a photo from the 1980s, when they were a couple.
It was interesting to read the remarks of one of Barack Obama’s pre-Michelle girlfriends about her experience of him in the 1980s. While I didn’t see that anyone else made the overt comparison, it certainly struck me that Barack’s modus operandi in love is the same fucking one that we’ve seen in his politics.
“His warmth can be deceptive,” Obama’s ex-girlfriend, Australian Genevieve Cook, wrote of Barack in her diary years ago, adding, “[Though] he speaks sweet words and can be open and trusting, there is also that coolness. …” AFP reports that Cook’s diary chronicles “how [Cook and Obama’s] romance grew and then cooled when the couple moved in together.”
Fuck. I’ve had the same damned experience with Barack Obama. He courted me madly but then became a cold fucking fish. Does that make me one of his exes, too?
I remember one of my first exposures, if not my very first exposure, to Barack Obama’s first campaign for the White House. When I was visiting San Francisco for the Castro Street Fair (no, that’s not a sex fair [not that there’s anything wrong with that…]) in October 2007, an Obama campaign operative gave me an Obama campaign sticker that had the rainbow morphed into the ubiquitous “O” logo:
I was happy to see a Democratic presidential candidate courting the gay, lesbian, bisexual and non-gender-conforming vote.
But I also remember that the campaign sticker fucking ruined my faux-sueded shirt. (Seriously — the adhesive never came off completely.)
Maybe that was a sign of what was to come.
Barack Obama, you see, despite his rather unequivical embrace of same-sex marriage in 1996, today claims that on the topic of same-sex marriage he still is “evolving.” Today, he refuses to advocate for legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states, even though that is the right thing to do. Apparently he believes that to do so will cost him too many “swing votes.”
This issue has an awful lot of relevance to me. Let me give you a fresh example of how I have been relegated to a different drinking fountain because I am gay.
My same-sex partner and I are in our fifth year together. We consider ourselves to be, for all intents and purposes, married. We do maintain separate apartments (largely because both of us hate moving, and also largely because he doesn’t want to move to my city and because I don’t want to move to his suburb), but we are together on weekends and on holidays and on other days that we have off in common, and we speak on the phone every day that we are not together in person. And certainly, there are heterosexually married couples who, for whatever reasons (such as having jobs in different cities, states or even in different nations), see each other in person much less often than my partner and I do, but the validity of their marriages is never called into question — because they enjoy heterosexist favoritism.
Whether or not my partner and I have legal or social recognition of the fact that we consider ourselves, for all intents and purposes, to be married, this fact is our reality, is our truth, and as such, while recognition of our relationship from others is nice — and while such recognition, at least from our local, state and federal governments, is our pathetically and sickeningly unfulfilled constitutionally guaranteed equal human and civil right — it’s not essential for us to have others’ approval or recognition for us to know what we have together. We know that we are, for all intents and purposes, married; anyone who disagrees is a mean-spirited, fucking heterosexist, homophobic bigot who can go fuck him- or herself.
Recently, I claimed some “family” sick leave (time off for caring for an ill family member; in this case, for my partner) in my California state job. Whether I claim sick time for myself or for a family member, it doesn’t really matter, as it comes out of the same sick leave bank. There is not a separate sick leave bank for myself and for my family members.
My employer — the state of California, which should know much, much better — this past week mind-blowingly questioned whether or not my partner really is a family member. After all, my employer essentially stated to me, my partner and I do not have a domestic partnership. (The only legal protection that same-sex couples in California have, outside of such legally protective documents as wills and living wills, is the domestic partnership. [The marriages of those same-sex couples who married when same-sex marriage briefly was legal in California* remain legal, but today, all that same-sex couples in California have in terms of seeking state recognition of their partnership is the domestic partnership.])
My employer also, unethically if not also illegally, asked whether my partner and I live together full-time, and suggested (or at least implied) that because we don’t, my partner is not actually my family. Of course, California’s domestic partnerships, one of which my employer at least semi-faulted me for not having, don’t require that the two individuals share the same residence all of the time, and allows them to have two residences yet still be registered as domestic partners, so the invasively personal question was way out of bounds. And again, whether or not two heterosexually married individuals share the same residence all of the time never is used to determined whether or not their marriage is valid.
Sure, I told my heterosexist employer, my same-sex partner and I could get a domestic partnership, but to do so, of course, is to give tacit support to something akin to having to drink from a different drinking fountain or having to swim in a different swimming pool.
Real marriage, you see, is reserved for heterosexual couples. Non-heterosexual couples in the United States are lucky to get even second-class, separate-but-unequal marriage, such as a civil union or domestic partnership.
This bullshit is blatantly unjust and unfair in a nation that promises “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” and “liberty and justice for all.”
If I were heterosexually married and stated that my wife were ill, or even if I just claimed to be heterosexually married and claimed that my “wife” were ill, would my employer have asked to see the marriage certificate? Would my employer have questioned the validity of my heterosexual relationship/marriage?
Fuck no, because of widespread heterosexism, even within the supposedly “progressive” and “liberal” California state government.
(My employer advised me, by the way, in the future to claim sick time for myself only, whether or not the reason for my use of sick leave was for me or for my partner. In other words, my partner, according to my employer, the state of California, is not my family because we have not bought into the separate-but-unequal institution of the domestic partnership. I have a real fucking problem with my employer dictating to me who is and who is not my family. Especially when California state government explicitly prohibits discrimination based upon sexual orientation.)
I still am torn on the subject of getting a domestic partnership. The legal protections that come with it are good, and all couples deserve such legal protections, but it still rankles me that in the supposedly “liberal” and “progressive” state of California, my partner and I, if we want those legal protections, are forced to drink from a different drinking fountain than the fountain from which heterosexual couples drink. It’s unfair, it’s un-American and it’s fucking wrong.
To bring all of this back home: Does Barack Obama give a flying fuck about any of this?
Hell fucking no.
He is, indeed, as Genevieve Cook described him to be: a cold calculator. He says what he figures he should say in order to get what he wants from you.
He lures you in with pretty promises, such as of “hope” and of “change.” He gives you a pretty rainbow sticker. Then, once he has your money and your vote, he leaves you high and dry.
Instead of delivering upon his relentless, ubiquitous campaign promises of “hope” and “change,” Barry for the most part has maintained the status quo and has told us dreamers of full equality for all that our dream must be deferred.
No, it doesn’t have to be deferred. It’s that Barack Obama lacks the character, the courage and the moral conviction to deliver upon what he promised (explicitly and implicitly, and it goes beyond much more than just same-sex marriage; it goes into such other areas as combatting poverty and the growing gap between the haves and the have-nots, and combatting the corporate thievery that is responsible for this growing gap, and ceasing the bogus warfare for the military-industrial complex, which is looting the U.S. Treasury while Americans go without adequate health care, higher education, environmental protections, etc.).
Barack Obama has found going along to get along to be the easier, more politically expedient route. He is a moral sluggard. He can trumpet what the right thing to do is — like a trumpeter on crack. He just can’t bring himself to actually do the right thing.
Which is why, like Genevieve Cook, I broke up with Barack Obama a long time ago.
I gave him hundreds of dollars in Round One. His sweet talk swayed me that he’d be a significantly more progressive president than would Billary Clinton, but he turned out to be just another Clintonista, a Repugnican-ass-kissing Democrat in name only. I’m giving him not a single fucking penny in Round Two.
I also gave Barry my vote in Round One. He made me regret that vote, so in Round Two I most likely will cast my vote for Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein.
I don’t care that she can’t win the White House. I would much rather vote for the person I actually would like to see in the Oval Office than be punk’d by Barack Obama, the sweet-talking cold calculator, once again.
*The California Supreme Court ruled 4-3 on May 15, 2008, that the state’s Constitution as it was written at that time guaranteed legalized same-sex marriage to residents of the state, so Proposition 8, in response to the state’s highest court’s ruling, wrote the prohibition of same-sex marriage into the state’s Constitution after the proposition passed narrowly on November 5, 2008, and became effective the very next day.
The window period during which same-sex couples could legally marry in California in 2008 — after the California Supreme Court’s ruling until the passage of Prop H8 — was less than six months.
My partner and I had been together for just over a year when the window for same-sex marriage in California slammed shut on November 6, 2008. While we consider ourselves essentially married today, it was too early for us to get legally married then. We wanted to know each other for longer than just a year before making such a serious commitment, a commitment that we take much more seriously than do many heterosexual couples who marry and divorce willy-nilly — and whose marriages’ validity is never questioned simply because they are heterosexual.