In a rather weird post yesterday, Jeffrey Toobin argued bravely that it’s a shame that there is a squabble over who gets credit for the extraordinary success of the marriage equality movement. Well: duh. I couldn’t agree more. It’s unseemly and ungracious and ugly. And that’s why you can scour the web for examples of Mary Bonauto or Evan Wolfson or Robbie Kaplan or Dan Foley or me ever claiming that we, and we alone, “changed the world”. It’s a grotesque thing for anyone to claim in such a broad and long and multi-faceted movement.
But Ted Olson, David Boies and Chad Griffin have all claimed as such through the Becker book, the Prop 8 HBO documentary, and the Olson-Boies book. And that‘s why there’s been a fight. They did something no one had ever dreamed of doing before. And that’s why the near-universal response in the gay community to the books has been criticism and derision. It’s certainly not because we begrudge newcomers to the movement, or straight people, as Toobin also bizarrely implies. The very first lawyer who filed a successful marriage equality suit in Hawaii was straight, Dan Foley. I welcomed Olson and Boies with open arms and backed their lawsuit, despite its risks of backfiring. I’ve welcomed every convert to the cause for twenty-five years.
The issue is not between laborers and newcomers; it’s between laborers and a tiny number of newcomers who declared themselves indispensable saviors of a movement that had previously been allegedly “languishing in obscurity” – and then launched on a lucrative publicity tour to cement their place in history (something also that no one had ever done before). So no, Jeffrey, the correct historical analogy of Ted Olson is not to white freedom-riders in the South. They didn’t turn around and claim exclusive credit for the work of African Americans and then bill them over $6 million.
And no, Jeffrey, it isn’t just about the first paragraph. The framing of this lawsuit as “the legal battle to bring marriage equality to the nation” was the central message of the book, which is why Toobin used that exact phrase in his now-embarrassing blurb. It was neither of those things, as Toobin must now know. And as for the first paragraph, you know who doesn’t regret or retract a word of it, even when given several opportunities to do so? Jo Becker. There’s only so much the media establishment can do to keep a lie alive. And I guess Jeffrey just did his part.
Today, I took a long view of Obama’s long game – and didn’t buy the current chattering class consensus that he’s a failed president. We noted more good news for Obamacare; and continued awful news for Palestinians enduring the latest air assault on Gaza. Plus: feminism tackles circumcision; neocons know nothing (again!); a montage of soccer’s high drama in real life; and a mash-note from me to the Millennial generation.
Many of today’s posts were updated with your emails – read them all here. You can always leave your unfiltered comments at our Facebook page and @sullydish. 19 more readers became subscribers today. You can join them here – and get access to all the readons and Deep Dish, including my new podcast with Matthew Vines – for a little as $1.99 month.
See you in the morning.
(Photo: The body of eight-year-old Palestinian boy Abdul Rahman Khattab who was killed when an Israeli missile struck his home, is brought to al-Aqsa hospital morgue in Deir al-Balah, in the central Gaza Strip, on July 10, 2014. At least 86 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have been killed and hundreds injured in a major Israeli air offensive against the Gaza Strip that began late Monday night, according to reports by the Palestinian Health Ministry. By Ashraf Amra/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images.)