If you think Obama’s announcement re: gay marriage was worthless, you’re speaking from a position of privilege, both in a social justice sense of the term and an everyday one. And you need to think about what you’re saying.
I remember vividly when gay marriage was legalized in Iowa. I’m the sort of person who can barely remember the daily events from a date three weeks ago, but I remember the exact moment I learned about the court decision. I was in the car with my dad going to Iowa City for a college visit. April 3rd, a few minutes after the hour (10 o’clock?), it was announced on the radio. My dad didn’t say anything and to this day I don’t know how he feels about the issue, but that was a striking moment.
At that time, I had already come out. I was reasonably secure with myself. I had supportive family and friends. But if I had been a year or two younger, when I was struggling every day with isolation, repression, depression, internalized hatred—I can only imagine what I would have felt. I know what affirmation and support I felt as it was.
My point is that even a lone message of recognition and acceptance can be extremely powerful. Obama could absolutely do better and I hope that he will. But given that this lone message came from the mouth of the President, the single most prominent figure in the United States, and one of the most prominent in the world, it cannot be said that he’s speaking empty words. His words do have an impact and that needs to be recognized.