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Saturday, October 22, 2016

This was going to be a different kind of column.

My friend Jackie, through a mutual contact, arranged for me to interview 20-year-old Tyler Winkler, a gay student born and raised in North Carolina and going to college there. Tyler and I were going to talk about his home state’s constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage and how he felt after the overwhelming majority of his fellow citizens voted for it.

By the time he called me back, the conversation had to change.

“How do feel about what the president just did?” I said.

Tyler had no idea what I was talking about. “What did he do?”

It was a thrill to deliver the breaking news: President Barack Obama had just told ABC News that he now supports same-sex marriage.

“Oh, my God,” Tyler said. “Oh. Oh. Are you sure? Oh, I’m flabbergasted.”


“I’m sorry I’m stumbling here, but I never — this is not something I expected to hear. I think the president’s job is hard enough as it is, but the fact that he did this, that he stood up for us-”


“You want a few minutes to think about this?” I said. “Maybe we could talk about you for a little bit and that amendment.”

Tyler laughed. “Yes. Yes, that would be great. I’m sorry. I’m just overwhelmed. What he did, what the president did, well, it makes this amendment so much easier to take.”

Too many political pundits to name predicted Obama never would do this before the 2012 presidential election. Most immediately memorable is Washington Post columnist Chris Cillizza’s insistence Monday that the president’s support for same-sex marriage “simply will not happen between now and November.”


Maybe this president is just too brave for Beltway journalism.

In the days and weeks ahead, we all are going to hash out what this means for Obama and his campaign. For a few moments, though, I want to relish my conversation with a young gay man in North Carolina who had just discovered that his president has his back.

“This changes everything,” Tyler said.

Tyler Winkler has been through a lot in his young life, which is the story of so many gay kids. He was raised in a Southern Baptist home where the list of things that would land you in hell was long and committed to memory. Homosexuality was way up there. Throughout high school, he tried to pretend he liked girls.

“I did like them, you know,” he said. “They were a lot of fun to be around. They were my buds. I just never wanted to kiss them, to touch them. When I started to have feelings for a boy, I asked myself, ‘Am I gay?’ I told myself, ‘No, no, I’m not gay. I’ll be burned at the stake right here if I’m gay. I can’t do that.'”

  • How convenient that he just had a conversion of opinion just before the election when he needed more money to fight Romney???
    I am not opposed to gay couples having a normal life and having similar rights as heterosexual married couples have…but do they have to call it “marriage”?
    I do not believe (as proven in 30 states) than Americans are ready to accept a gay life style as “normal”. I believe Obama is giving us a Red Herring to make us forget other more important issues…….Sorry…It is still the ECONOMY and JOBS.

    • Geronimo, I agree that economy and jobs are the Nº 1 and 2 items at the top of the pole. I am not so sure Republicans have the same agenda (may be theirs is: !1.Get rid of Obama, 2. get rid of Obama, 3. get rid of Obama, and so for 4 to 100.
      The President action, some time seemed as “inconvenient” shows above all a Man ready to face a huge group of voters bent to enforce their “religious” point of view on all of us, absolutely unwilling to allow the First Amendment to cover all points of view. He is showing that he believes in the liberty for all, and that religious beliefs should not become the law of the country.
      He risked losing a job he wants to carry on. He spoke regardless of the consequences. It may be a Red Herring, but his political future is at the other end of the fishing line. It shows he has guts! But then, the Republicans will not budge on their stand: Get rid of Obama, at any cost for the country.

    • All I hear from Conservatives is about following the Constitution. Well the 14th amendment provides for equal rights for all people. Therefore all people should be allowed to get married in the eyes of the government. What is difficult to understand about that!

    • grannyk8

      30 states chose to deny gays the right to marry, that in no way indicates that they don’t consider gay as being “normal”. I don’t know what you might mean by “gay lifestyle”, if there is such a thing. President Obama has stated his position, and that ends the conversation – so now he can get on to other things, and so should you.

  • 101strac

    touching story. My hat,s off to President Obama for the courage it took, at such a crucial point in time, politically speaking, to offer up this opinion, and thereby lend his support to it.But then, he is no stranger to making courageous decisions, is he?

    • 101strac I totally agree. He made a courageous decison during a time when the right are rattling spears. But I think there’s a lot more people who basically feel, “Live and let live.” That’s about liberty right? It’s about equality.
      I’m proud of my president. OBAMA IN 2012!

  • howa4x

    This is the last hurdle in a long struggle for equal rights fought by many people over a long time. There is not one group in this country that has not been singled out for their religious beliefs, nation of origin, color of skin or gender. All of them have overcome the bigotry that surrounded them, and were integrated into our society. It was not that long ago that Black and whites were forbidden to marry, and inter religious marriages were also frowned upon, if not out right banned by each religion. Some integration was evolutionary, and the tougher ones by legislation and court decisions. Now the president stood up for yet another group to have a status that everyone else finally enjoys. States are stepping up to legalize it and all that have see it as a civil rights issue. The south will be the last place it will happen, but then it has trailed the nation in integration for all groups so no suprise. While the older generations are vehmently opposed, the younger ones don’t see it as an issue. They all grew up with gay friends and don’t see what the fuss is about. This does not bode well for the future of the republican party and it’s evangelical base. As states enact the laws and people see no real change, it will become normal, just like seeing inter racial couples. All of America needs to wake up because in the lyrics of Bob Dylan: The times they are a changing!

  • de_lited

    This is certainly NOT the last hurdle. Atheists are subject to the same kinds of religious bias. Most folks don’t seem to understand that atheists are bound to disbelieve whilst believers have a glut of silliness they can pretend to believe in. Look in your heart, Believer! Know yourself for the Liar you are! And you would deny me my rights because I seek only the truth! Or is the problem because you seek your moral guidance from the Church? Who wants a Prez who even pretends to beliecve in magic underwear? Why would anyone want someone who pretends to believe in a belief system, who is a liar at heart and would deny equal representation to someone simply because that person doesn’t accept the same pack of lies that he pretends to believe in? No, the last battle for equal representation is far from over.

  • dik

    Mrs. Brown;

    I agree with the New York Times. It appears, with the outpouring of money in support of his campaign, that the wrench in President Obama’s “wrenching personal transformation” was cash.

    Dik Thurston
    Colorado Springs

    • joyscarbo

      So…you believe same sex marriage was ONLY money-driven? You are quite short-sighted. If he enjoyed a windfall of support in the form of money and votes, then it is the FEAR of the right that finds fault in it.

  • 1AmericanHoney27

    If people choose to believe in God or not is on them. How does Obama become a liar because he chooses to believe in God? Gay marriage & Atheism is 2 totally different subjects entirely. When has Obama ever said a word against or for Atheism? Do not chastise someone because their beliefs aren’t the same as yours. Do not speak without proof there isn’t a God above. Stop belly aching because you aren’t in the majority on the subject. Stop trying to remove “In God We Trust” for our money. Stop trying to keep us from having prayer at social gatherings (church, sport games,in our schools, etc…). I personally could care less about your opinion or if this offends you non-believers because we Believers have rights too. Last I heard in this country majority rules. Unfortunately for you being in the minority here… You lose… What happens on your judgement day when you stand before God and realize all along you were wrong…. Be thankful that our God is a Forgiving God. May God Bless and keep everyone safe…. God Bless America… Have a Blessed day…. Remember to Vote Vote Vote………. OBAMA/BIDEN 2012

  • I do admire the President for announcing this ! I do not understand being a gay person,but I also feel they do not understand heterosexual life style… We are born the way we are. Our Maker loves us anyway…..

  • I also do not understand Atheist , but they have the right to believe or not to believe…. If they are good people ,that is all that matters to me…

  • grannyk8

    Every human being should have equal opportunity to bloom where they are planted or to flourish wherever their heart takes them. I’m happy to see my children, and grandchildren puzzled that some people think gays shouldn’t have the right to marry someone they love; the time can’t come soon enough when all people see the meanness behind thinking otherwise. “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”. Brothers and sisters, our hearts are with you.

    • joyscarbo

      I love you, grannyk8. You put a very tender spin on this issue and my gay niece and her partner of many years thank you. It is a soley human rights issue.

  • QUESTION: If to the Republicans marriage in sanctified. Then why do half of them end up in divorce. Marriage is what two people put into it. No matter the sex.

  • joyscarbo

    I’ve been cruising some of the more “conservative” websites. I struggle to understand how a person comes to support the outrageous positions of the “religious right,” “ultra conservatives,” and republicans. What I found was shocking and disgusting. Most people who comment on The National Memo website are fairly reasonable people, even if they feel very strongly about their views. Most comments reflect values of inclusion, concern for the greater good and fairness. The opinions I read on “The Blaze” where freightening. These people want to see Pres Obama dead! They make the most disparaging remarks about him that have nothing to do with his performance in the role of commander and chief. These are intensely personal attacks and are angry, racist and sexist as well. There is no real intellegent discourse or exchange of views that are supported by facts.

  • michael sierra

    President Obama has the decency and the backbone to lead this country forward. He has taken a very sensitive issue and has spoken up for equality because it’s the right thing to do. People who have had the courage to follow their hearts and love whom they choose can rest assured that their President has the courage to support them. This country needs acceptance of all people and our president has taken a monumental step in the right direction. I applaud you President Obama!