Dan Savage says President Obama’s decision to support efforts to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act signals a big shift in the way Democratic politicians handle the LGBT community — a community that often supports them, only to see their hopes dashed once those Democrats take office.
He credited the move as a sign gay politics are now going mainstream.“I think it’s great, very heartening, in part because it’s clear that the cold, political calculations are adding up in our favor now,” Savage told TPM over email. “We’re seeing significant political movement in our direction because it’s not just the right thing to do, or the just thing, but because, in the long run, it’s the politically smart thing to do.”
Savage is a noted LGBT-rights activist, sex columnist and founder of the It Gets Better campaign.
He pointed to the recent move by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) to push same-sex marriage through the legislature — as well as the decision by Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA) to essentially kick off his campaign for governor in Savage’s native Washington by openly calling for a similar law in that state — as other signs that those demanding same-sex marriage rights are turning a corner.
Polls show the electorate supporting gay marriage is continually expanding. The Gallup poll on the topic published in May showed that for the first time, a majority of voters said they favored extending marriage rights to same sex couples.
Obama has yet to make the shift to openly supporting marriage rights for same-sex couples, but he’s indicated his position is “evolving”. Savage says it’s evolving among numerous top Democrats because of the widening base of LGBT-rights supporters.
“After the ’10 midterms, the Dems — from Obama on down — suddenly realized that the gay vote, and gay donors, couldn’t be taken for granted anymore,” Savage said. “They also realized that the gay vote wasn’t exclusively gay: our friends, families, and progressives generally weren’t satisfied by the status quo: make promises during campaigns, deliver squat once elected.”
“They’ve started to walk their talk,” he said, “and I think it’s great.”
Savage also talked at length about some new rhetorical sparring he’s currently engaged in with his old nemesis, Rick Santorum. Following Savage’s public apology for some incendiary remarks about Republicans he made on HBO’s Real Time With Bill Maher, Santorum took to the radio airwaves to attack him as well as reaffirm his opposition to same-sex marriage. More on that later.