Is Tavis Smiley's Criticism of Obama's Gay Marriage Timing Legit?
If Smiley is against same-sex marriage, why criticize Obama's timing and not his views?
A year ago, we saw Tavis Smiley approached by Jeff Justice (of Jeff for Justice) during a book-signing event at The Museum of African American Art in Los Angeles. Jeff asked Smiley a few questions during the Q&A portion of the event, particularly whether Mr. Smiley was for or against same-sex marriage. Mr. Smiley said he was against the right for same-sex couples to marry which, when coupled with his response to Obama’s recent announcement in support of the right, makes people wonder.
“You talked about the day that Barack Obama was elected president, ya’ll got to vote on your love for me as a gay man with Proposition 8. How did you vote? Do you support the freedom to marry and how do you feel about Obama’s stance about marriage equality for gay and lesbian folks? Also as a gay person,” Jeff said. “Do you feel it's fair when the gay community makes comparisons between the perils of gay folks and black folks?”
In response, Mr. Smiley said those were a lot of questions and that they would talk afterwards. It appeared that Mr. Smiley said that he would answer all the questions that Jeff posed but following the event, Mr. Smiley answered only one question in a seemingly rushed manner. Jeff asked about his stance on gay marriage again and received this response.
“I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. I do not agree with that particular issue. I think the country may evolve on that issue but my faith tradition says that marriage is between a man and a woman.”
There may have been a lot going on during the event so criticizing his mannerisms and the way he answered the questions wouldn’t be fair. However, the question arises that if Mr. Smiley is against same-sex marriage, is it odd for him to totally disregard the argument and criticize Obama on the timing?
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During a podcast with Dr. Cornel West, Mr. Smiley seems to agree with Dr. West on how “it’s a beautiful thing for our gay brothers and lesbian sisters” and that it was a calculated political move. Later in the podcast, Mr. Smiley does state he does not support gay marriage but there may be cause for confusion since he initially agreed with Dr. West on the statement. Furthermore, if he is indeed against same-sex marriage, assuming he is just as critical of President Obama with this as he is regarding Obama and his economic policies, would he not argue against what Obama said instead of when Obama said it?
Dr. West is known to openly support gay marriage. Email and call requests for comments clarifying Mr. Smiley’s stance on gay marriage went unanswered.