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Politics & Current Affairs

Should Gay Marriage Be The Number One Issue?

Sometimes peoples’ views surprise you. When I heard Tim McCarthy, director of Harvard’s Human Rights and Social Movement program, talk about gay marriage in his Big Think interview, I was interested to find his perspective a bit counterintuitive. You’d think- he’s a historian who’s passionate about human (and gay) rights, so he’s probably fuming that same sex marriage still isn’t legal in so many states. But for McCarthy, the issue is more complicated than that.

Tim McCarthy doesn’t think gay marriage should be number one on the agenda right now. Strategically, it’s just not the most important issue for the broadest range of LGBT people. He says: “For a lot of folks, employment nondiscrimination is more important than marriage. For a lot of folks, adoption rights are more important than marriage. For a lot of folks, universal health care is more important than marriage.”

McCarthy also speaks passionately about how President Obama has yet to use any political capital on the gay community. “He got Congress to move on climate change last week. He could get Congress to move on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

You should also check out what he has to say about social networking’s role in mobilizing a political movement. On one hand, it’s one of the reasons Obama made it to office. On the other, it robs us of that physical space that’s so crucial when coming together for a common cause. To McCarthy, a few traditions still reign supreme: holding hands, singing songs, congregating in that basement of a church.


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