Joe Scarborough, the MSNBC morning show host and former Republican congressman from Florida, loved that Focus on the Family Super Bowl ad. Or at least he loved that CBS chose to run it. He also has nothing wrong with the Defense of Marriage Act, and he’s railing against anyone who criticizes him on Twitter about his position. He’s wrong on all accounts.
Officially, Scarborough backs DOMA because it keeps the federal government out of the marriage business. But as his detractors point out — in real time; Twitter replies (including some of support) are going on as we type this — Scarborough is completely dodging the other side of DOMA. The part that allows federal and state governments to discriminate against gay couples while granting heterosexual couples a whole slew of rights.
While hosting Harold Ford Jr. on his March 2 show (just after Ford dropped out of a Senate run), Scarborough went after everyone who focused on Ford’s gay marriage positions as a reason to keep him from running. (Those positions, of course, include lying about his voting record, flip-flopping on issues when it’s politically convenient, and pointing to Barack Obama as why it’s excusable not to back gay marriage — and remaining in disbelief about how LGBT voters could be furious with him.) Scarborough’s problem is with political wonks — and voters! — only thinking about where elected officials stand on issues like abortion and gay marriage when there are “real” problems to deal with, like jobs and homelessness.
With all those jobs drying up, Scarborough says, “and we’re talking about gay marriage and we’re talking about abortion? Let’s talk about it, but obsess about it to this degree? It’s insanity. … Just so stupid people don’t misread it … seriously, talk about these issues if you want, but I don’t think Washington should be involved in gay marriage … abortion … I think we should focus on jobs … but the obsession over these social issues is corrupt to the national debate.”
When StopBeck.com’s Angelo S. Carusone tweeted Scarborough, after the segment, “I’m not going to apologize for being angry with people, like you, who prevent me from marrying my boyfriend of 6 years,” the talking head responded, “Dude, marry who you want. That’s above my paygrade. I just don’t want the federal gov’t involved in the bedroom. Keep Congress and the Feds out of gay marriage and OB issues. Let them focus on getting people jobs and protecting us.”
But what Scarborough misses is that marriage equality isn’t a social issue. That’s how conservatives like him have framed it.
The Defense of Marriage Act is a purposeful piece of discriminatory law, affecting real people — and extends into the arenas of jobs and health care. This isn’t some fringe matter to deal with when the economy recovers. It’s a crucial obstacle that must be eliminated because it is wrong, and doing so will help the economy recover.